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Chait writes: "Moderate Republicanism is a tendency that increasingly defies ideological analysis and instead requires psychological analysis. The psychological mechanism is fairly obvious."

New York Times columnist David Brooks. (photo: unknown)
New York Times columnist David Brooks. (photo: unknown)


David Brooks Is Pathological

By Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine

18 January 13

 

oderate Republicanism is a tendency that increasingly defies ideological analysis and instead requires psychological analysis. The psychological mechanism is fairly obvious. The radicalization of the GOP has placed unbearable strain on those few moderates torn between their positions and their attachment to party. Many moderate conservatives have simply broken off from the party, at least in its current incarnation, and are hoping or working to build a sane alternative. Those who remain must escape into progressively more baroque fantasies.

The prevalent expression of this psychological pain is the belief that President Obama is largely or entirely responsible for Republican extremism. It's a bizarre but understandable way to reconcile conflicting emotions - somewhat akin to blaming your husband's infidelity entirely on his mistress. In this case, moderate Republicans believe that Obama's tactic of taking sensible positions that moderate Republicans agree with is cruel and unfair, because it exposes the extremism that dominates the party, not to mention the powerlessness of the moderates within it. Michael Gerson recently expressed this bizarre view, and the pathology is also on vivid display in David Brooks's column today.

Brooks begins by noting that the Grand Bargain on the deficit, which he has spent the last two years relentlessly touting, is not actually possible. Why is it impossible? Because, he writes, "A political class that botched the fiscal cliff so badly are not going to be capable of a gigantic deal on complex issues."

Oh, the political class? That's funny. In 2011, Obama offered an astonishingly generous budget deal to House Republicans, and Brooks argued at the time that if the GOP turned the deal down, it would prove their "fanaticism." Naturally, they turned it down. Obama continues to offer a bargain including higher revenue through tax reform in return for lower spending on retirement programs, but Republicans refuse to consider higher taxes. So, in summary, this proves "the political class" is to blame.

What Obama should be doing in response, Brooks argues, is push for policies that provoke no opposition even from the craziest of the Republicans: "We could do some education reform, expand visa laws to admit more high-skill workers, encourage responsible drilling for natural gas, maybe establish an infrastructure bank." Brooks argues that these issues would be uncontroversial enough to "erode partisan orthodoxies and get back into the habit of passing laws together." Then, maybe we could pass some laws under a future president.

Note that solving actual problems is besides the point here. Brooks is almost explicit about this. He begins with the need for initiatives that he thinks will lead to happiness and comity between the parties in Washington, and then comes up with policies that might fit the bill. Not surprisingly, viewed from the standpoint of an agenda designed to make life better for Americans in some way, shape or form, Brooks's proposed agenda is strange. Let's consider his ideas:

Education reform. I love education reform. Obama passed a sweeping education reform in 2009. Brooks writes a column the next year fulsomely praising it. (Obama "has used federal power to incite reform, without dictating it from the top.") Is there more education reform to be done? There may be, but I don't know what it would be, and Brooks doesn't seem to know or care.

Expand visa laws to admit more high-skill workers. Would this really pass right away without partisan animosity? Brooks says yes. We don't have to guess. Democrats tried this last month. Republicans loaded it with poison pills and killed it dead. So instead they're trying to do it as part of comprehensive immigration reform.

Encourage responsible drilling for natural gas. Wait, how much more encouragement do we need? The country is undergoing a massive natural gas boom:

Is there some element to natural gas policy that needs fixing? Does Brooks just think the two parties should get together and congratulate each other for all the natural gas being produced?

Establish an infrastructure bank. Okay, this one is a good policy idea. But is it something Republicans would easily pass without rancor? In fact, Obama has been asking for this very thing for years now. And Republicans have called it dead on arrival.

So Brooks's proposed alternative agenda consists of either empty list-filler or actual policies that Obama has proposed and Republicans have killed. But instead of this happy term of modest accomplishment, Obama is pursuing a nasty, partisan agenda. Step one of this devious ploy is to, as Brooks puts it, "invite a series of confrontations with Republicans over things like the debt ceiling - make them look like wackos willing to endanger the entire global economy."

Right - Obama is the one inviting confrontations over the debt ceiling. Never mind that, before 2011, the debt ceiling was just an occasion for routine posturing, and Republicans insisted on turning it into a showdown with real, dangerous stakes. Also never mind that Obama offered to sign the plan - proposed by Mitch McConnell! - to permanently defuse the debt ceiling and let Republicans use it to posture against him rather than actually threatening a global meltdown. And never mind as well that, by refusing to cave in to extortion, Obama seems to actually be defusing the real danger to the world economy.

This is all Obama's fault because it makes Republicans "look like whackos willing to endanger the entire global economy." Brooks displays an almost surreal lack of interest in the underlying reality that Republicans actually are whackos willing to endanger the entire global economy. It is his responsibility to conceal this reality from America.

Worse, argues Brooks, Obama is nastily choosing an agenda intended only to harm Republicans. Obama's proposals on gun safety and immigration, he writes, are "wedge issues meant to divide Southerners from Midwesterners, the Tea Party/Talk Radio base from the less ideological corporate and managerial class."

Brooks asserts, but does not actually explain, that Obama chose these issues for the purpose of dividing the opposition - as opposed to trying to cut down on mass murders and fix a huge field of broken policy. Brooks concedes that Obama's proposals here are moderate, but believes that the moderation is what makes them so nasty. By appealing to mainstream Republicans, he is splitting them from the most extreme Republicans!

You would think proposing policies that large numbers of Republicans agree with would qualify as the kind of centrism and bipartisanship Brooks has spent the entire Obama presidency calling for, but now that it's here, it turns out to prove just the opposite to him.

 

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+138 # FactsFirst 2013-01-18 20:44
Can;t believe this guy gets media space. PBS needs to take another look at whom they give air time to. He constantly squirms and blinks when he talks. Judy Wodruff and Mark Shields are way too passive with this guy.
 
 
+76 # genierae 2013-01-19 06:39
PBS is not nearly as progressive as most think it is. David Brooks has been allowed to spout his nonsense with milk-toast Mark Shields barely pushing back. I gave up watching Newshour a long time ago.
 
 
+26 # NanFan 2013-01-19 18:06
Indeed! Brooks is whacko himself!!!!!!!!!!

Let him eat cake as the last flipping of the tail of the last dinosaur Republican dies on the vine...PLEASE!!

It's only the billionaire corporate money that keeps Republicans afloat, not the American people.

N.
 
 
+20 # genierae 2013-01-20 10:34
I agree NanFan, the Republican Party does not represent the will of the people. Just check out the current polls on gun regulation. The majority of Americans want universal background checks, they want a ban on assault weapons, and they want a database on gun sales. This is only one issue, there are many more where Republicans in congress ignore the people. And also Republicans couldn't get elected without lying and fear-mongering. They are a downright disgrace.
 
 
-57 # BobbyLip 2013-01-18 22:00
It's time for that liberal warhorse Shields to head off for the pasture or the glue factory, too. He may have been something once, but who can recall? No firebrand, he. A perfect example of PBS's strong commitment to ideological balance.
 
 
+2 # vicnada 2013-01-22 20:19
I returned to give this comment a thumbs down but found a crowd so rightly acted first. Cruelty is what Brooks and his Republican cronies peddle as public policy. They reason coldly and order acts that utterly bypass the heart. Inhuman. Shields would, could never do so. When we lose our "inner Shields", we lose the heart placed as the warm, steady, feeling mediator between reason and act. When kindness becomes a "crime of weakness" in our discourse, we all might has well follow reckless you and your firebrand Republicans straight to hell.
 
 
+127 # wwway 2013-01-18 22:08
PBS has been under threat from Republicans for years. Accusations that PBS is liberal so they can withhold funding while cutting funding year after year. I quit watching the News Hour because Brooks seems to be towing the conservative line much more fervently than in the past when I respected what he had to say. Now I don' believe a single word that comes out of any conservative mouth. I do appreciate Kevin Phillips. He built the conservative movement only to turn against it with his book American Theocracy. Otherwise I think Republicans have gone absolutely mad with insanity.
 
 
+48 # vicnada 2013-01-19 06:36
Quoting wwway:
Republicans have gone absolutely mad with insanity.
Is this possible? Unfortunately, so. Republicans have pathologically double-downed to the point that redundancy is the only "logic" remaining. Brooks suffers epistemological vertigo--his columns call out like an aging Minnesotan in a snow storm: "Ver to go? Ver to go?"
 
 
+6 # genierae 2013-01-20 10:35
Well said, vicnada!
 
 
+2 # dovelane1 2013-01-22 00:24
Vicnada - Most people who grow up in Minnesota know where to go, and what to do, in snowstorms and cold. It's people from other states that get lost in Minnesota, and have no clue where to go, or what to do when the snow and cold comes in.

Such people are in a place they are not used to. So it is with Republicans who are used to rationalizing all their thinking, rather than thinking rationally.
 
 
+3 # Mannstein 2013-01-22 09:17
Does that include Michelle Bachman? Does she know where to go? If not I can think of several places for suggestions.
 
 
+24 # Smokey 2013-01-19 07:11
[quote name="wwway"] "... Brooks seems to be towing the conservative line much more fervently than in the past when I respected what he had to say...."

David Brooks is the token "conservative" for PBS. He's supposed to talk like a conservative, if he wants to collect a paycheck.


And, now, maybe Fox News will offer Dennis Kucinich to its audience.

BIG DIFFERENCE: I doubt that David Brooks has much support among today's political conservatives. Although he's comparatively young, he represents the old liberal wing of the Republican Party. A wing that was broken when Reagan won the White House.

In contrast, Dennis has some significant political support. Democrats take him seriously. And some Democrats may pay more attention to Fox News. (Which may boost the ratings, in order to sell more dog food or whatever Fox is selling nowadays.)
 
 
+23 # wantrealdemocracy 2013-01-19 09:47
Yeah, Kucinich may help sell dog food and that is all the people of this nation are sold on TV. The two corporately funded political parties are only a show on TV (between dog food ads). You have to be living in a paid for mansion not to notice that we are in a long term depression where only those in the mansions are doing just fine. Those people that are doing well are in control of our government and our media to keep the rest of us down and dumb. We need a reawakening in this nation. First step is to turn off that flickering box in your home and get out and talk to people in real time, face to face.
 
 
+1 # Mannstein 2013-01-22 09:19
Dog food? I thought it was horse turds.
 
 
+75 # Regina 2013-01-18 22:50
Thanks for the update on poor David Brooks. I find his NYTimes columns so far from reason and fact that I just skip them.
 
 
+44 # dawn99 2013-01-18 22:59
I love this article and I agree with it. David Brooks needs to go shovel real manure for the rest of his life and not talk in public again - ever.
But, although the grammar isn't bad, I, REALLY, want to "red -pencil" the punctuation. ( I hope that I made no punctuation mistakes on THIS post! )
 
 
+54 # beeyl 2013-01-18 23:01
This article is just one long way to say - as if we didn't already know it 1000 times over - that David Brooks is a disingenuous ass.
 
 
+98 # Robert B 2013-01-18 23:05
I had the same thoughts about William F. Buckley sometimes. He would twist and turn and contort himself into a pretzel in order to arrive at an appropriately right-wing position, refusing to acknowledge that the Republican Party had gone nuts. It must have been perplexing for him, as it is for Brooks and other apologists for an increasingly fascist and dishonest GOP. Now they've cooked up an idea to fiddle with the electoral votes in swing states so they can rig elections in their favor. Yeah, that mean old Obama drove them to this.
 
 
+2 # Mannstein 2013-01-22 09:21
George Will is another one who falls into the same category.
 
 
+103 # Ralph Averill 2013-01-18 23:08
I read the column yesterday morning. It seems David Brooks believes that it is the president's responsibility to fix the Republican Party. How long will moderate Republicans refrain from denouncing the zealots within their party who are destroying their party?
 
 
+58 # Robert B 2013-01-19 06:45
Barry Goldwater said 20 years ago that the GOP had gone nuts, and he wasn't even a moderate.
 
 
+66 # Sophie 2013-01-18 23:40
All you ever need to know about David Brooks-otherwis e known as "Bobo"- has been researched and written about brilliantly for quite some time by Driftglass.
His latest:
http://www.driftglass.blogspot.com/2013/01/true-conservatism.html

Brooks is allowed to continue to write his specific brand of drivel for the NYT in order to gaslight so called "moderate readers."
Chait:
"Brooks displays an almost surreal lack of interest in the underlying reality that Republicans actually are whackos willing to endanger the entire global economy. It is his responsibility to conceal this reality from America."
Exactly.
 
 
+63 # motamanx 2013-01-18 23:52
Every six months or so, the title of one of David Brooks' columns
intrigues me, and I read it; after which I remember that he is 180 degrees wrong about everything--and I promise myself that never again will I waste my time with his stilted tripe. This philosophy, mercifully, limits my intake of Brooks to two reads a year. He started his career as Nancy Reagan's lapdog, and has regressed from there.
 
 
+48 # unitedwestand 2013-01-19 00:21
I can't figure Brooks out. When I watch him, I picture him split vertically down the middle, on one side looking like a sheep and on the other side, a wolf. On any given interview, I'm not sure which side of his body is going to speak. Occasionally, I feel sorry for him because he seem like a Democrat but still in the closet. Come out David, we'll take good care of you.
 
 
+17 # Smokey 2013-01-19 06:59
[quote name="unitedwes tand"]"I can't figure Brooks out. When I watch him, I picture him split vertically down the middle, on one side looking like a sheep and on the other side, a wolf. On any given interview, I'm not sure which side of his body is going to speak. Occasionally, I feel sorry for him because he seem like a Democrat but still in the closet...."

Brooks' book "Bobos in Paradise" explains David Brooks and the political culture that he represents.

If I were teaching a class about American politics in the 21st century, "Bobos in Paradise" would be on the reading list.

Who are the "bobos"?

The list includes LGBT people who support the Republican Party.

The list includes "food movement" people who talk for hours about food politics without mentioning poverty and the increase in food prices in the global marketplace.

Also, the people who want to raise consumer energy prices because "Americans are wasting too much energy." Yeah, sure. Tell it to the homeless and to the elderly who beg for fuel assistance and public transit.

"Bobos" worry about polar bears and climate change. Less attention is given to impact of droughts and heat waves in Texas. (Any suggestions on how to respond? Send improved lightbulbs to Houston, maybe?)

"Bobos" support public education. Although they don't want to send their kids to public schools.

David Brooks can explain the "bobos."
 
 
+10 # kelly 2013-01-19 08:43
BRAVO!!!
 
 
+8 # Diane 2013-01-19 18:05
If we send improved lightbulbs to Houston, will they know how to screw them in??
 
 
+24 # Vern Radul 2013-01-19 00:22
Yes. This batsh*t crazy drive for "bipartisanship " with batsh*t crazy republicans that obama is determined to pursue even at the cost of pushing the whole country over the cliff has to be seen for what it really is. An insane con job. One so insane that even Brooks as irredeemably loopy as he is can't stomach it or find it within himself any longer to try to justify it the way Chait can.
 
 
+65 # Larry 2013-01-19 02:40
The entire confounding, disgraceful liturgy of Republican obstructionism, lying, hypocricy, chauvanism, gun worship, Obamaphobia, homophobia, and other accoutrements of the party's extreemism is numbingly familar. However, these attitudes and behaviors are only symptoms of two pathologies that inform and invigorate the core of neo-conservativ tism; greed and fear. The party has nothing else to offer; a sobering fact that voters are beginning to recognize.
 
 
+23 # gdp1 2013-01-19 04:54
A herd of donkeys standing in the middle of a pasture, and one says, "Stay in the middle, everybody, because if we don't, those elephants over there on the edges of the field, will come in, crowd everybody out, and then say that we, somehow, made them CRAZY elephants."
 
 
+31 # walt 2013-01-19 05:34
Brooks is a neocon who supported the Iraq invasion and likely would welcome an attack on Iran. That should say enough.
 
 
0 # Mannstein 2013-01-22 09:25
When one is on the payroll of the NY Times it comes with the territory. Non Neocons need not apply.
 
 
+22 # Jackpine 2013-01-19 06:07
Brooks has always struck me as living proof that you don't have to be very bright to pass yourself off as a pundit in this country. In the land of the brainless, the half-wit is king. And while I'm at it, I wish writers like Chait would look up the word "fulsome" before they use it.
 
 
+6 # MJnevetS 2013-01-19 11:26
Quoting Jackpine:
while I'm at it, I wish writers like Chait would look up the word "fulsome" before they use it.


Ad hominem attacks upon Brooks aside (only because I agree with you)

'fulsome' - Adjective

1. Complimentary or flattering to an excessive degree: "they are almost embarrassingly fulsome in their appreciation".

2. Of large size or quantity; generous or abundant.

"Hello, kettle, this is the pot...you were saying?"
 
 
0 # Jackpine 2013-03-03 09:18
Quoting MJnevetS:
[quote name="Jackpine"]while I'm at it, I wish writers like Chait would look up the word "fulsome" before they use it.


Ad hominem attacks upon Brooks aside (only because I agree with you)

'fulsome' - Adjective

But by the 16th century, fulsome’s meaning had taken “full” overboard, to “satiating, cloying, excessive.” Shakespeare used it often, meaning “loathsome” and “rank with lust.” The O.E.D. defines its application to language and style as “offensive to good taste . . . from being ‘over-done.’
 
 
+17 # vgirl1 2013-01-19 06:31
Wow, now the TPee'ers have even driven him to be one of the crazies.

Welcome to your participation in the clown rodeo circus, Mr. Brooks.
 
 
+9 # Smokey 2013-01-19 06:39
Aw, shucks... Don't be so hard on David Brooks. He's one of the great entertainers. (One of the great jugglers, maybe.)

"Bobos in Paradise" - one of Brooks' first books - is still one of the best books for explaining the new "liberals" of the 21st century. Call them "yuppies" or "limousine liberals" or whatever you like. Brooks himself is one of their chief spokespersons.

The "bobos" are drifting around looking for political acceptance and influence. On social issues - for example, gay rights and abortion - they're libertarians. With economics - anything that looks like it might limit "bobo" prosperity - they're often surprisingly cheap. Although most of the "bobos" are far more generous than the Tea Party. (In part, because "bobo" therapists, teachers, artists, etc., often depend on government programs for their careers.)

A hundred years ago, most "bobos" supported Republicans like Teddy Roosevelt. Fifty years ago, the
"bobos" liked Nelson Rockefeller. Nowadays, the "bobos" have been pushed to the far margins in the GOP. Even in the Northeast, it's difficult to find "bobos" in high political offices.

David Brooks is usually ignored by Republican conservatives. He makes his appeal to "bobos" who spend more time with Bill Moyers than they do with Rush Limbaugh. Brooks is the "token conservative" who "liberals" like.

Poor David! He lives in a difficult place in American politics.... Don't take the man too seriously.
 
 
+38 # genierae 2013-01-19 06:50
I sometimes feel as if I'm living in a lunatic asylum where half the people are sane, yet are forced to mingle with those who are insane. You can't make any sense of them, and you can't get away from them, you're stuck with their bizarre behavior even though it is causing great chaos in your life. This is what our American society has become, a lunatic asylum.
 
 
+21 # dick 2013-01-19 06:54
Brooks' uselessness is a sad commentary on the NYTimes.
 
 
+35 # RMDC 2013-01-19 07:22
I don't know if I would go to pathological. but I would go to pathetic. Brooks generally has nothing to say. He is trying to defend the republican party which has become indefensible. I predict he will break with the republicans some day, if they continue to become even more lunatic right wing fringe.

The whole mission of the republican party derives from Reagan and his lackeys like Grover Norquist. The goal is to make the government so dysfunctional that americans demand a shut down of huge parts of it -- especially anything that has to do with sustaining american living standards like education, healthcare, health, environment, and safety standards. They want to shut the government down because they hate it (except the military). Now this is truly pathological. They do not believe in "society," "community" or anything done collectively. They are RAndians who think everyone is on their own. Everyone must get their own things or simply die. This is the pure theory of the survival of the fittest. Now that is pathological. At the root of this belief is racism. They really think this will mean the mass death of all people with dark skins. The white cream will rise to the top.

The nice thing is that it is the republican loonies who are disappearing. In another generation, they will be almost gone and the US will be a wonderful mixed race nation as it always has been.
 
 
0 # Robert B 2013-01-20 15:42
As Lily Tomlin said, "We're all in this alone."
 
 
+36 # revhen 2013-01-19 07:31
A week ago Brooks stated that we (evil? greedy?) senior who are collecting Social Security and Medicare are preventing the government from spending more money on education. He entirely ignores the fact that what we collect is what we paid for our whole working careers. What we get are "entitlements" only in the sense that we paid Federal Insurance Contributions (That FICA Slot on our paychecks)which is NOT a "payroll tax." It seems every "pundit" of right or left or even middle incorrectly and unknowingly uses these terms to take from us what we have paid for. Today FICA contributions are roughly the same as the money collected from income tax (Corporations pay a fraction of what we belabored taxpayers pay. The REAL entitlements are the tax breaks corporations and the very rich individuals get because they are very wealthy. As Warren Buffet put it, "There is class warfare and my class has won."
 
 
+19 # tbcrawford 2013-01-19 11:36
[quote name="revhen"]. ..what we paid for ... "Federal Insurance Contributions" (That FICA Slot on our paychecks) NOT a "payroll tax."

Thank you. Paid-for retirement insurance is NOT a hand out. And, for self-employed the rate was over 15%. There is no crisis in the trust fund and raising the cap would correct any shortfall decades hence. Spread the word, everyone.
 
 
+23 # NOMINAE 2013-01-19 12:32
@ revhen

Thank you SO much for reminding everyone that LANGUAGE MATTERS !

Those out to destroy the U.S. Government by undermining the entire New Deal are incredibly successful simply in employing the childish, but *WILDLY* effective tactic of employing Orwellian speech and sucking the Media Mynahs into echoing their pap.

"Entitlements", in ALL CASES, are Insurance PAYMENTS. From now on, all clowns who wish to refer to SSA, Unemployment Insurance Payments, Medicare, etc. as "entitlements" must repay any future reimbursements from either Auto or Homeowner's Insurance payouts because they can't be taking "entitlements" and, the Insurance Companies *obviously* need the money more than do the "entitled" persons who paid the premiums all their lives. Let's see how that works.

Yes, from "Entitlements" for simple Insurance payouts, to "Death Tax" for Estate Tax, "Death Panels" for insuring End of Life Counseling, "Clear Skies Initiative" for "No Penalty Polluting", "Operation Iraqi Freedom" for ..... you get the idea, there has been no let up.

The drumbeat has become so common, and the media sources so bought-up an controlled, that the Orwellian speech now goes largely unchallenged but for a few lonely writers.

Yes, it IS negative and painful noise coming in, but if we do NOT critically listen and call them on their sh*t, we can *seriously* be made to pay dearly for our complacency.

They care not one whit for the truth. They care only for what WORKS.
 
 
+17 # Regina 2013-01-19 15:32
What we paid during our working years is what gives us "TITLE" to "entitlements." That's the opposite of "freebies." When it comes to language, beware of right wing distortions and inversions. What goes to corporations and the ultra-wealthy is subsidies, not entitlements -- they have no "title" -- they just subvert our entire economy by their subsidies to compliant candidates.
 
 
0 # Mannstein 2013-01-22 09:47
Quoting Regina:
What we paid during our working years is what gives us "TITLE" to "entitlements."


Thank you for putting it so succinctly. I will make use of the phrase when arguing with friends and family about the so called "Entitlememts"
 
 
+9 # genierae 2013-01-20 11:05
revhen, don't forget that it is a core Republican belief that if you repeat a lie often enough, it will eventually be accepted as truth. W. used the term "catapult the propaganda".
 
 
+2 # Cassandra2012 2013-01-20 14:29
Hear, hear!
 
 
+1 # Mannstein 2013-01-22 09:37
Actually FICA brings in 1.1 Trillion and Income Tax 900 Billion into the Treasury to be exact. If the Republicans could and would shut down SS and Medicare and people refused to pay FICA they would barely have enough money for their everlasting wars and the Pentagon. The Republicans would be forced to raise taxes but not on the 1% of course.
 
 
+19 # mnmufon 2013-01-19 09:01
This pathology is called Narcissism. Not your garden variety Narcissism either. The pathological Narcissist will never accept blame or fault of any kind, they demand complete obedience to their will and cannot empathize with other points of view. For them, it's 'my way or the highway'. They think that they are God. Anyone who disagrees with them is selfish and wrong. And they are everywhere. Fear them.
 
 
+7 # bobby t. 2013-01-19 09:11
another catch 22 moment on RSN...lol..
This is a very funny page. Loved the wacko statements by everyone, especially the serious ones. Brooks is funny. I watch him and Mark every night and enjoy the entertainment. That is their jobs. And don't forget getting rid of Big Bird,,,
Moyers on the other hand is what I watch for serious. He is the man now.He still does his homework.
Years ago I even learned to enjoy Bill Buckley's humor, even though he was a stone killer, especially around Norman Mailor.
Fromm was right, the problem with humans is that we have a thin veneer of civilization covering our atavistic natures. We really never left the caves, and our wolf pets are now toy dogs. They bite too.Ruff.
 
 
+3 # tclose 2013-01-19 09:19
What ever happened to the mostly reasonable moderate conservative that David Brooks used to be? I can only assume that some right wing zealots got to him somehow (intimidation, extortion, blackmail, ...?).
 
 
+19 # Pipester 2013-01-19 09:30
Brooks' editorial yesterday was literally a hoot. When I read it I laughed out loud. His argument was silly on its face. If I had written anything as shallow when I was an undergraduate more than fifty years ago, I would not only have received a failing grade on the piece, the professor would have invited me in for a chat about the hopelessness of such a mind pursuing higher educationl
 
 
+6 # Edwina 2013-01-19 09:34
Who gives these pundits air time? Corporate interests. Brooks' job, it seems, is to be confusing, much as Tom Friedman is. The average news reader, who trusts the NYT, then concludes he or she cannot figure out what's going on, and so abandons the effort.
 
 
+9 # coberly 2013-01-19 09:42
revhen

let me add: yes we paid for it. an amount that is almost exactly what we would have had to "save" at an interest rate 2 04 3 percent above inflation in order to get the "benefits" we end up getting.

in the case of the very poor, the effective interest rate is closer to 10%... something they could not hope to get "on the market" even on a good day. this is paid for by the "effective premium" that people who end up "rich" after a lifetime of work pay for the insurance that Social Security provides... in case they hadn't ended up rich.

This is very important to understand because the "right" lies about it, and the "left" would like to change SS into a pure welfare program... where you could never again say "i paid for it myself"

meanwhile SS contributes NOTHING at all to the deficit, and the "actuarial shortfall" that you hear about {"SS is broke, flat bust") turns out to mean that workers today would need to gradually increase the percent of their incomes they pay into Social Security in order to pay for the fact that they are going to live longer than their grandparents.

The increase needed is less than one tenth of one percent per year. About eighty cents per week more each year. And you get the money back with interest.
 
 
+18 # coberly 2013-01-19 09:48
As for greedy seniors. Social Security takes absolutely NO money away from education or any other part of the budget.

Medicare does take some from the budget (a mistake made by folks who what "the rich to pay for it). But even at that, Medicare is paying for keeping you alive and healthy, using money that you paid in while working. It is not clear to me that money spent for "education" goes to anything that real people need quite so much. Education is paid for mostly by state taxes, and while it's important, it probably doesn't really need to steal granny's medical care in order to do a very good job educating kids.

In short, Brooks is a liar, playing the old "think of the children" scam that damn liars have played for as long as I can remember.
 
 
+17 # Vauban 2013-01-19 10:56
I do not need to read Brooks or any other "moderate" pundit to know that the Republican party is broken-I live in Utah!
 
 
+12 # NOMINAE 2013-01-19 12:35
Quoting Vauban:
I do not need to read Brooks or any other "moderate" pundit to know that the Republican party is broken-I live in Utah!


Dear Vauban ........ my condolences. :)
 
 
+10 # jwb110 2013-01-19 10:59
If I did my job the way Brooks does his job I'd would have been made redundant. And redundant is just what Brooks is.
 
 
-14 # Quickmatch 2013-01-19 11:27
Oh! Balderdash! Brooks is a convert from decades ago liberalism who recognises, as all centrists do, that there is no progress from the exterem left that ends up in a workable system, and no progress from the extreme right at all--only retreat into the American Revolutionary years (where they would find themselves still on the far right, I suppose). most od what Brooks says is better than what 80% of the farthest right and 20% of the farthest left (change the percentages as you wish, they're instructional only) submit for consideration. I can live in a Brooks universe much more easily than a Cantor, or McConnell or (certainly) a Paul or Bachman universe. It's the ends that are killing debate, that and the ignorance so well represented by the right and far-left. We need a center than can stand, and such a center would include a David Brooks.
 
 
+15 # ericlipps 2013-01-19 12:34
Quoting Quickmatch:
Oh! Balderdash! Brooks is a convert from decades ago liberalism who recognises, as all centrists do, that there is no progress from the exterem left that ends up in a workable system, and no progress from the extreme right at all--only retreat into the American Revolutionary years (where they would find themselves still on the far right, I suppose). most od what Brooks says is better than what 80% of the farthest right and 20% of the farthest left (change the percentages as you wish, they're instructional only) submit for consideration. I can live in a Brooks universe much more easily than a Cantor, or McConnell or (certainly) a Paul or Bachman universe. It's the ends that are killing debate, that and the ignorance so well represented by the right and far-left. We need a center than can stand, and such a center would include a David Brooks.

The trouble is that at present the far right has real power, while the most the far left can do is sputter and snipe from the sidelines. This has the effect of shifting the spectrum of actual political discourse ssharply to the right, with all the negative consequences one would expect from the enabling of a worldview hostile to compassion and reason alike.
 
 
-3 # bobby t. 2013-01-19 12:56
Quickmatch you are so right. When I decided to move to Miami, I called my favorite college english teacher and we went out to lunch so I could tell him how much he meant to me. He said he had no one to eat lunch with in the professors dining room, as they had become so radicalized on both sides of the political spectrum, and that was in 1969! Dr. Park, the great guy and the great teacher believed that all truth lay in the center, as did buddah and many other great men. Thank you for your post. All sides must be listened to, as none of us had all the answers or even the right questions!
 
 
+9 # MindDoc 2013-01-19 13:55
Wow, some great observations and commentary. I mean, aside from the article, which clearly is provocative. I particularly enjoy this "psychology"-or iented profile - being both a psychologist and follower of current events (including NewsHour). My own reaction for some time is: David Brooks has little credibility or standing in offering up "psychological" reasons or portraits. He's way dimmer a light in this regard than, say, Malcolm Gladwell (journalist, author of "Blink" and "Tipping Point"). Brooks can be cutesy and offer some glimpses into the 'thinking' of parties and coalitions, but IMHO, he is, as the article nicely portrays, way over his head in trying to present factual, research-based psychological principles (except occasionally, to be fair). Time & again he returns to seemingly indelible biases and parrots the party spin-of-the-day . Which is ok, for "op-ed", I suppose, and of course both Brooks & Shields are entertainment (dog & pony, yin & yang). They do occasionally illuminate the leading edges of political discussion. But a teacher of human psychology? David Brooks? Sorry - he seems unable to leave behind the mantle of cheerleader for old chestnuts and partisan mantras - even if he's a nice guy who occasionally smiles sheepishly and eats crow; people do find some charm there. My opinion, just based on years of casual watching & reading only. (Perhaps Brooks might benefit from some insight into his own psychology before preaching about others'?)
 
 
+1 # spenel334 2013-01-19 21:06
spenel334 Does anyone have any figures relating total amount of money paid toward social security throughout one's career, to the total amount paid back after retirement? I did read or hear that a retiree received, on average, 20% more than (s)he put in, during his or her lifetime, but I have no idea if that figure is correct or even close.
 
 
+4 # rosaleee 2013-01-19 23:14
You know what this reminds me of?

It reminds me of the families of violent, abusive men blaming the men's wives/girlfrien ds for the men's violence. Why, the women make the men crazy and that's why they beat them, sometimes to death.

Yeah. Right.
 
 
+1 # debraslone 2013-01-20 22:01
I think he's sloppy, and he can't do the critical reasoning. He feels free to contradict himself without any irony.
 
 
+1 # Innocent Victim 2013-01-21 08:24
Almost all of our politicians are social psychopaths, especially our immoral President. No surprise that mainstream journalists are also abnormal! These folks have no morality. They operate from greed and careerism. Our military high command are similarly driven; they also include many sexual cheaters as the recent embarrassments have revealed.

The entire elite and their political servants have no patriotism - in the sense of caring about other citizens and the generations to come. They are loyal only to the class with which they identify: the class of wealth and power. This condition of our country could not have reached its present state without the cooperation of mainstream media and journalists, which - after all - are nothing more than the propaganda arms of the ruling elite. They are social psychopaths because they have no morality. For them, anything is possible.
 

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