Friday, January 18, 2013

David Brooks, Contortionist

The rhetorical contortions of David Brooks have been something to behold for a long time. As the liberal New York Times' chief apologist for a conservative, plutocratic Weltanschauung he has had a lot to deal with the last decade. When he started as a columnist he had to find ways to justify the Bush-Cheney wars of choice. Fortunately for Brooks he washed his hands of the administration by the time the economy began its collapse. When Obama won in a landslide in 2008 and started actively courting the University of Chicago product I wondered whether Brooks would use his column to support a Democratic president. He did not.

Brooks' pitch is that he is a sensitive, thoughtful, good-government type who cherishes the hard work of compromise. When the GOP hitched its wagon to the Tea Party this put Brooks in a pickle. How to act as an advocate for a Bircher political party while maintaining a Westchester County refinement for all the mythic soccer moms? Brooks has accomplished this the last three years by means of indirection and fence straddling.

This morning's column, "The Next Four Years," is a perfect example. Rather than speak the truth plainly -- that Republicans have shit the bed and it's their own fault -- he blames the Democrats for not helping the Birchers. Brooks then provides an illuminating description of the legislative perils ahead for the GOP -- votes on the debt ceiling, on assault weapons, on immigration reform, on student loans. But rather than sing in it in his own voice he posits a hypothetical Washington D.C. Democrat and puts it in his mouth using quote marks and labels it a "Kill the Wounded" strategy, the wounded being those poor infant House Republicans who just need an understanding legislative partner who will teach them how to crawl.

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