Tuesday, October 13, 2015

David Brooks, in a Moment of Clarity, Notices His Conservatives Are Incompetent Whack Jobs.

David Brooks: I come not to mock you but to praise you!

That's right, I speak in praise today of David Brooks. After all the posts pointing out Brooks' half-baked fake dualism sophistry, etc., he landed in credit-where-credit's-due territory, with his NYTimes column, "The Republicans’ Incompetence Caucus." Why, it's enough to give a liberal the vapors, in a good way.
But this new Republican faction regards the messy business of politics as soiled and impure. Compromise is corruption. Inconvenient facts are ignored. Countrymen with different views are regarded as aliens. Political identity became a sort of ethnic identity, and any compromise was regarded as a blood betrayal.
A weird contradictory mentality replaced traditional conservatism. Republican radicals have contempt for politics, but they still believe that transformational political change can rescue the nation. Republicans developed a contempt for Washington and government, but they elected leaders who made the most lavish promises imaginable. Government would be reduced by a quarter! Shutdowns would happen! The nation would be saved by transformational change! As Steven Bilakovics writes in his book “Democracy Without Politics,” “even as we expect ever less of democracy we apparently expect ever more from democracy.”
This anti-political political ethos produced elected leaders of jaw-dropping incompetence. Running a government is a craft, like carpentry. But the new Republican officials did not believe in government and so did not respect its traditions, its disciplines and its craftsmanship. They do not accept the hierarchical structures of authority inherent in political activity.
Holy crap. This admission that the folks whose views he is supposed to uphold are too corrupt and incompetent to shill for at the moment is a breath of fresh air from the Conservative of Record on the Paper of Record. I commend Mr. Brooks' honesty, but like a number of the commenters on the column, I wonder why it took this long to own up to this state of affairs in the party whose "conservatism" no longer serves any purpose other than to oppose all moves by our elected government to, er, govern.

I've never seen so many comments on a David Brooks column, nor have I read so many favorable to Brooks, although, again, a startling number begin praising him before questioning why now and not before.

One comment was particularly notable:


houston, texas 3 hours ago
This may be the most insightful -- and the most significant -- column Brooks has ever written.
Wow. The most insightful -- and most significant -- column that David Brooks writes is one in which he finally stipulates that he can no longer toe the party line because of "jaw-dropping incompetence." It's hard to argue with that. Put some salve on that, David. I'm sure it will heal.

David, you get the last word:
If a politician lacks the quality of detachment — the ability to let the difficult facts of reality work their way into the mind — then, Weber argues, the politician ends up striving for the “boastful but entirely empty gesture.” His work “leads nowhere and is senseless.”
Welcome to Ted Cruz, Donald Trump and the Freedom Caucus.
Really, have we ever seen bumbling on this scale, people at once so cynical and so na├»ve, so willfully ignorant in using levers of power to produce some tangible if incremental good? These insurgents can’t even acknowledge democracy’s legitimacy — if you can’t persuade a majority of your colleagues, maybe you should accept their position. You might be wrong!
People who don’t accept democracy will be bad at conversation. They won’t respect tradition, institutions or precedent. These figures are masters at destruction but incompetent at construction.
These insurgents are incompetent at governing and unwilling to be governed. But they are not a spontaneous growth. It took a thousand small betrayals of conservatism to get to the dysfunction we see all around.
Okay, a couple more from me: OH MY.


  1. But now, at least, I better understand the expression "pissing into the wind". What's the point of making sense when making sense doesn't matter?

    1. Yes, that's about it. It's about being pointed in the right direction. There's a reason the wind is blowing in your face and why you turn around to piss. A stubbornness not to turn when the resulting blowback will be so messy is why pragmatism trumps ideology or at least should.

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