Saturday, July 31

The Problem with David Brooks

Forgive the appearance of slander, but the urgency of this year's election does not permit me to let glaring incompetence go unnoticed.
New York Times columnist David Brooks, a conservative pundit featured weekly on the Jim Lehrer News Hour, always gets a sparkle of idiot admiration in his eyes after viewing George Bush giving a stump speech. The idiocy of the sparkle is confirmed by Brooks's comments. Brooks apparently sees "authenticity" in Bush's gruff manners, his syncopated gestures, and "simple folk" accent (which he adopted from Texas-born citizens), because this is the imprecise and somewhat mystical category by which Brooks assesses public figures time and again. In this exchange, from the July 30 program, David Brooks responded to Jim Lehrer's question about the negative tone of the campaigns in this way:
JIM LEHRER: What about the negative thing, for instance we ran a while ago, what Kerry ads had to say today and what President Bush had to say today. President Bush was on Kerry's record. Would you interpret that as a negative?

DAVID BROOKS: I think that's fine. First of all one of the most annoying tropes of the convention was we're uniting, we're not divisive, and then they said something incredibly nasty about the Republicans. Kerry said, that they don't care, the people who talk about family values don't value their families, so republicans don't value their families. But that's not divisive.
Not so fast, Brooks. The Democrats did not say that the Republicans don't value their families. It's irresponsible to exaggerate the Democrats' claim about the plight of the middle class in this way, by making it appear that the Democrats are saying, in essence, "The Republicans don't like their children." Brooks goes even further than this by winding his comment up with a smug quip (apparently meant to ring true as irony). "But that's not devisive," chuckle, chuckle. I wonder, though, is it truly "incredibly nasty" to point out the well-established fact that Republican tax "relief" has shifted the tax burden from the wealthiest in the land to working families? Why is that "incredibly nasty"? Is it not, rather, "incredibly nasty" to squeeze the middle class while claiming to be the pro-family Party? That seems to me a more relevant question, and it's the one that Americans have a right to ask.

Brooks then turns to George Bush's comments and says this:

DAVID BROOKS: But, you know, if you were going to call somebody a traitor or un-American, that's out of bounds. And I think that will be out of bounds. But if you're going to say he voted this way, he made that decision, that's what it's supposed to be all about.
I find it very hard to understand how Brooks is able to make such a distinction between Bush's criticisms of Kerry's voting record (which criticisms Brooks deems "what it's supposed to be all about") and the Democrats' criticisms of the Republican voting records that led to unjust tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of the nation (which Brooks portrays as a distortion and a low blow).

I have a real irony for Mr. Brooks to chuckle over. In the same speech to which Brooks was referring (given by Bush in Missouri on July 30), Bush said that "we stand for the institutions of marriage and the family," with implications that Brooks, to remain consistent with himself, could only deem "incredibly nasty." Those implications are that, by contrast, the Democrats are not only against marriage and family but, like any unapologetic anarchists the world over, are against institutions! And where, I ask, is the voting record to demonstrate that?