In the constellation of terrible political punditry there are many blazing examples: Cal Thomas, Peggy Noonan, Thomas Friedman, to name just a few. But David Brooks has immortally cemented his position as the greatest with this column: Been there, Done that, so now the rest of you who go there and do that should go to prison.
Brooks has written some of the most truly pathetic columns imaginable - just a few weeks ago he wrote a piece pointing out the complete irrelevancy and meaninglessness of ideologically lazy political pundits, the chief notable example being himself - but this column must go down in history as the definitive piece of sheer ass-hattery. The man has produced entire books which consist of him making up stories and claiming them to be data points, but that's just simple fraud. This column moves beyond that.
He spends the entire column discussing the complete lack of danger associated with marijuana, as evidenced by his own personal experience: his worst personal experience was botching a speech in English class, and the vast majority of his friends naturally outgrew it. He concludes that legalizing pot is good for personal freedom (Isn't this the rallying cry of the Tea Party Republicans? Freedomz!).
He then concludes with the banal fact that spending all of your time smoking pot is not the best possible life, and in the ultimate act of mind-boggling hypocrisy and willful ignorance suggests that society should therefore continue to discourage marijuana use. At no point does the brute fact that society currently sends men with guns to lock you up in jail with murderers and rapists and take your house and prevent you from holding hundreds of classes of jobs again and take away your right to vote cross David Brook's alcohol-fogged tiny little mind (because you know the bastard was drunk as a skunk while he wrote this - he had to be: no sane human mind could commit such a heinous act of indifference while sober). Thus does society "discourage" pot use; by putting it in the same class as using heroin, meth, burglary, and assault. By destroying lives and swelling prisons.
If David Brooks had been "discouraged" when he was smoking pot, he wouldn't have a cushy job writing banal idiocies for a national audience. Or maybe he would; Brooks has spent his entire life in an atmosphere where rich white guys get second chances (and thirds, and fourths, and....).
To advocate a policy while remaining willfully blind to its actual implementation is one thing; to do so when said policy would have ruined you had it been applied to you is something entirely different. Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh are evil clowns, but they are clowns. David Brooks is vastly more wicked: he makes people comfortable with hypocrisy. Brooks has column in a old and venerable newspaper, a national audience, and a cushy paycheck - and he uses it every week to display brazen hypocrisy, for which he is continually rewarded. This amounts to society encouraging hypocrisy, as long as it's hypocrisy for rich old white men. All the pot smokers in the world cannot add up to the harm David Brooks personally inflicts on the national character.
Edit: note that Brooks is endorsing the police state: he is saying that society's moral culture should be enforced by criminal law and the power of the state.
(Cross-posted at http://mcplanck.blogspot.com.au/)