If by any chance you missed the excellent piece by Hunter the other day, Kos, I am phoning in this essay, read it now while you can still savor it. It was a worthy effort, a wonderful distillation of every tired trope pounded to death by Tom Friedman, in a clever and entertaining parody of his punditry.
I say savor it now while you still can, because David Brooks has gone one better on Hunter....He has parodied himself so thoroughly, any further attempts would be futile. Brooks has plumbed the depths of fatuity so deeply, he may never come up again. (If we're lucky.) I refer to his latest effort - and I'm not making this up - Workers of the World, Unite! Mr. Brooks is telling one and all that the savior of the beleaguered White Working Class is....wait for it....Rick Santorum!
If your head hasn't exploded yet, bear with me a little longer. Brooks manages to twist and shape reality so severely to fit his grand vision, the space-time continuum may have to take a few sick days to recover. Consider how he begins:
The Republican Party is the party of the white working class.Ponder that - and think what the Republicans have done for them lately. Then gird up your loins - it only gets...even more so.
...They sense that the nation has gone astray: marriage is in crisis; the work ethic is eroding; living standards are in danger; the elites have failed; the news media sends out messages that make it harder to raise decent kids. They face greater challenges, and they’re on their own.Still with me?
The Republicans harvest their votes but have done a poor job responding to their needs....
...Other times a candidate will emerge who taps into a working-class vibe — Pat Buchanan, Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin. But, so far, these have been flawed candidates who get buried under an avalanche of negative ads and brutal coverage.Well, nobody's perfect. And who is the man riding to their rescue in their hour of need?
Enter Rick Santorum.You can almost hear the soundtrack building to a dramatic crescendo.
His worldview is not individualistic. His book, “It Takes a Family,” was infused with the conservative wing of Catholic social teaching. It was a broadside against Barry Goldwater-style conservatism in favor of one that emphasized family and social solidarity. While in Congress, he was a leader in nearly every serious piece of antipoverty legislation. On the stump, he cries, “The left has a religion, too. It’s just not based on the Bible. It’s based on the religion of self.”I imagine Brooks had to lie down for a while after composing that paragraph. You can picture his breath quickening, his tongue moistening his lips as he contemplated where this was going.
...He certainly wants tax reform. But he goes out of his way in his speeches to pick fights with the “supply-siders.” He scorns the Wall Street bailouts. His economic arguments are couched as values arguments: If you want to enhance long-term competitiveness, you need to strengthen families. If companies want productive workers, they need to be embedded in wholesome communities.Cue the cute little bunnies! Fire up the rainbow! But alas - is it not to be?
But I suspect he will do better post-Iowa than most people think — before being buried under a wave of money and negative ads....Yes, Santorum is probably doomed in the end, but Brooks can't quite abandon his hope that someday, redemption will arrive in the ultimate bipartisan rejection of the false elites. Mr. Brooks has such deep affection for the common people, it spills over here.
If you took a working-class candidate from the right, like Santorum, and a working-class candidate from the left, like Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, and you found a few islands of common ground, you could win this election by a landslide. The country doesn’t want an election that is Harvard Law versus Harvard Law.That last sentence is the only false note in the whole column. Up till that point, Brooks had almost managed to maintain his detached, above it all tone. Could it be that one moment of peevishness is the inner-Brooks showing a flash of petty resentment at these supposedly smart people who don't seem to get his vision of the way things should be?
You really need to read the whole piece to comprehend just how completely Brooks has transcended his own particular punditry schtick in this column. The artfully-built false narratives, the counterfactual depiction of the principals, the warm, fuzzy fantasies spun out from his peculiar alternate reality view of the world - it's all there in spades.
If you have the strength of mind to face the whole thing, do so. You will seldom find a finer example of the mental processes and belief systems among the punditocracy that are demolishing this country.
6:59 AM PT: A quick update: there was only one comment on Brooks column when I put this together last night. The ones that are up there now... well let's say he doesn't have many fans, and even a few who claim to value his work are taken aback. I don't know what it is about Iowa, where Brooks wrote this piece, but it looks like it's not only the GOP jumping over the cliff. Maybe it's something in the corn dogs at the salad bar...