Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Brooks and the Culture Wars

David Brooks is smart and observant and also deeply conflicted and venal. The reason is because he is intellectually man enough to admit this:
Sarah Palin has many virtues. If you wanted someone to destroy a corrupt establishment, she’d be your woman. But the constructive act of governance is another matter. She has not been engaged in national issues, does not have a repertoire of historic patterns and, like President Bush, she seems to compensate for her lack of experience with brashness and excessive decisiveness.
While at the same time too jejune to leave aside these Rovian lies:
Palin is the ultimate small-town renegade rising from the frontier to do battle with the corrupt establishment. Her followers take pride in the way she has aroused fear, hatred and panic in the minds of the liberal elite. The feminists declare that she’s not a real woman because she doesn’t hew to their rigid categories. People who’ve never been in a Wal-Mart think she is parochial because she has never summered in Tuscany.
Why? Because he signed on with the half-wits.

What Brooks well knows is that the mass of well-educated Democrats in this country are just like me--we live modest lives informed by real information we take from NPR on our way to our (pick one: government, university, nonprofit) jobs in our Priuses. We aren't rich (no Tuscany for us), but we aren't stupid, either. Going to college doesn't necessarily mean earning enough to own seven houses, just knowing that a pinhead like Bush is dangerously incompetent, that a war in Iraq is not only illegal but abjectly stupid, and that Sarah Palin doesn't know Shiite from Shineola, never mind her world class ability to bullshit.

The thing is, Brooks is rich. He doesn't shop at Walmart (invoked in this article for the 2,347th time), and he does summer in Tuscany. And he's smart enough to know that signing onto the Bush Doctrine means sacrificing forever the claim that we modestly-compensated, educated folk take for granted--that we saw the Bush disaster coming from a mile away, that we knew he was stupid and incompetent, and that the GOP were going to sack Washington and steal away in the night with wheelbarrows full of cash. This is a pill too bitter for Brooks to swallow. He wants to be smart and right, but as a Republican apologist, the illusion is spoiled. He's wrong, and rather than owning up to that like a man, he continues to attack the dusty old straw men of the Republicans' now failed culture war.

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