David Brooks Should Be Behind a Firewall, Not a Paywall

Like most of us, I suppose, I was frustrated when the NYT put its major columnists behind a paywall but there was a bennie I hadn’t counted on: I couldn’t be tempted to read David Brooks or Tom Friedman, thus raising my blood pressure to new heights. Alas, the paywall is gone, the Terrible Two are available again, and – like somebody with a toothache who can’t resist sticking a tongue in the hole to make it quiver and sting – today I finally gave in to the urge and read (well, skip-read, really) a David Brooks column. I noticed one thing immediately: he hasn’t improved in the past year.


The column I read was from yesterday’s NYT, and in it, Brooks manages to spend the whole thing talking about how unhappy people are with the direction the country is going in without once mentioning George Bush or Iraq – a feat of no mean proportions, similar to writing a negative movie review without mentioning that the star sucks wind. The Congress, however, comes ion for some heavy bashing. If you came from another planet and this was the first thing you read about us, you’d think the mess we’re in was the Democrats’ fault.

Called “The Happiness Gap”, Brooks’ superficial scan of a couple of polls has him convinced him that we don’t trust govt – not this administration, all govt.

Sixty-eight percent of Americans think the country is on the wrong track. Sixty-two percent think that when government runs something, it is usually inefficient and wasteful. Sixty percent think the next generation will be worse off than the current one. Americans today are more pessimistic about government?s ability to solve problems than they were in 1974 at the height of Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War.

This happiness gap between the private and the public creates a treacherous political vortex. On the one hand, it means voters are desperate for change. On the other hand, they don?t want a change that will upset the lives they have built for themselves.

On the one hand, they want the country?s political leaders to take bold action. On the other hand, they are extremely cynical about those leaders and are unwilling to trust them with anything that seems risky.

Pretty neat, ay? The destruction of the Constitution, the prosecution of an illegal oil war, the destruction of a once-stable economy, a health care system skewed toward insurance company profits rather than good medical care, an educational system destroyed by the right-wing mania for testing, the politicization of the justice system, corruption in every single agency of the Executive Branch, a tax system skewed toward the top 1%, the aggressive defense of torture as an interrogation technique, stagnant wages, etc etc etc (you know I could go on for several pages here) – none of this has anything to do with Bush. It’s the Democratic Congress and “the government” we don’t trust.

Brooks didn’t just drink the kool-ade, he drowned in it.

Hopefully this will satisfy my occasional urge for pain and I’ll be able to resist him for another year, at which point I fully expect to find that he hasn’t changed and is the same unlovable dingbat neocon apologist/Bush propagandist he is today and always has been.

And he can’t write for shit.

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