As you may remember, David Brooks has been teaching a course on "Humility" at Yale this semester. Always a master of hilarious, unintentional irony, Brooks' students were required to read his own writing:
the class will be forced to discuss Professor Brooks's very own writing. During Week 2 (theme: "The Cultural Shift") his students will read his 2001 Atlantic essay "The Organization Kid"; for Week 13 (theme: "Fate"), they'll appraise "Life Reports by David Brooks," which are three of his Times columns stitched together.Today, Brooks shares with us a term paper by one of his students. Of course, Brooks begins by quoting his own 2001 Atlantic article. Then he turns to excerpts from the paper by Victoria Buhler.
Victoria has learned well at the feet of the master. Like Brooks, she invents catchy terms for supposed sociological phenomena, like the "Cynic Kids," and the "Tinder Effect," while tossing in hip cultural references like "Girls" and unhip ones, like "Honey Boo Boo."
But the most striking part of Brooks' use of Ms. Buhler's column is his typical complete lack of self-awareness and whitewashing of his own complicity in the events he describes:
Then came Sept. 11. That was followed by the highly moralistic language of George W. Bush’s war on terror: “Our responsibility to history is already clear: to answer these attacks and rid the world of evil.”Hmm. Who was one of the main cheerleaders for all of those disasters? Who could it be? Hmm. Could it be David?(1)
But Bush’s effort to replicate the Reagan war on an evil empire lead to humiliation, not triumph. Americans, Buhler writes, “emerged from the experience both dismissive of foreign intervention as a tool of statecraft as well as wary of the moral language used to justify it.”
Then came the financial crisis, the other formative event for today’s students. The root of the crisis was in the financial world. But the pain was felt outside that world. “The capitalist system, with its promise of positive-sum gains for all, appeared brutal and unpredictable.”
Brooks thinks that the lowered expectations for students today materialized out of thin air because things just happened in the 2000's. How did that "humiliation" come about? Let's turn to one of the best Brooks bashers in the business, Driftglass:
Remember that Mr. Brooks backed the ruinous Bush tax cuts because the Bush Administration promised they contained magic stimulus bean powers that would grow the economy into the ionosphere. When they failed miserably and blew a giant hole in the deficit to boot, Mr. Brooks was apparently too busy taking up fife and drum for Simpson-Bowles to bother to apologize for fucking that one up.On tax cuts in 2002, Brooks displayed the civility and sage analysis for which he has earned a permanent spot with Charley Rose, the News Hour, the NY Times and Sunday mornings:
Following the bloody implosion of the Iraq War that he had so stridently pimped, the craven Mr. Brooks could never summon the guts to offer his readers a scintilla of the bold, straight talk he endlessly chastises others for failing to proffer.
Are they going to become the stupid party? ARE THE DEMOCRATS about to go insane? Are they about to decide that the reason they lost the 2002 election is that they didn't say what they really believe? Are they about to go into Paul Krugman-land, lambasting tax cuts, savaging Bush as a tool of the corporate bosses? Are they about to go off on a jag that will ensure them permanent minority status in every state from North Carolina to Arizona?Yes, David. Victoria deserve her A. You deserve an F, but you'll never get it from your pundit class buddies.
(1) (imagine Church Lady echo effect here)