Frank Bruni is troubled. He looks around and sees signs of America's decline -- Education, our economy, our trains, bridges and tunnels, our own expectations. And Frank relies on impeccable sources like Maureen Dowd, who sees the President's "truculent passivity" as part of a new "fatalism." Why even "Democratic strategists" comment on this!
Bruni's column suffers from an acute but typical case of Beltway Emperor's-New-Clothesism. He looks around, scratching his head, and can't figure out why the heck this is happening. Why the pessimism? Why the stagnation? What could it possibly be?
Bruni et al. cannot see the blatant nakedness of one party losing its mind. Of 35 years of that party rejecting the New Deal consensus, and doing everything possible to create the pessimism of which Bruni despairs. We can look in vain at Bruni's column for any mention of Republican sabotage and war against the poor and middle class.
Bruni et al. cannot remember that affirmative tax and spending policies of Reagan and the Bush's caused the shrinking of the American dream the Bruni bemoans.
Bruni et al. cannot see that the ACA is the most obvious factor in starting to reverse pessimism and despair. They cannot see that half of the states are standing in the way of their people getting this route out of medical and financial despair.
Bruni et al. cannot see, as they fret about bridges and tunnels and trains, how Republicans are killing these projects, like Christie and the ARC Tunnel (a bigger scandal when he did it in 2010 than anything that's been revealed since, including the GWB)
Bruni et al. cannot admit that they played (and are still playing) a key part in the process they lament. They choose not to remember or repent from their behavior in 2000 that helped put W Bush in the White House:
In his 2001 campaign book, Ambling Through History, Bruni described the first presidential debate between Bush and Gore as a dispiriting debacle for Bush. He wrote:So Frank Bruni et al. (and you know who you are), spare me your lamentations about pessimism and shrinking America. Recognize who is at fault, including your own role. Write about issues -- about Republican governors' war against their own people by denying Medicaid expansion; about Republicans racist Voter ID laws (much worse in their effect than any spewing by a Sterling or Bundy); about the disgrace of killing unemployment insurance extension and cutting food stamps.
By any objective analysis, Bush was at best mediocre in the first debate, in Boston. … in all of [the debates], he was vague. A stutter sometimes crept into his voice. An eerie blankness occasionally spread across his features. He made a few ridiculous statements. … I remember watching the first debate from one of the seats inside the auditorium and thinking that Bush was in the process of losing the presidency.Funny, but the guy who covered that very same debate for The New York Times—a fellow by the name of “Frank Bruni”—wrote it up rather differently. Nothing at all appeared in his coverage about Bush’s “ridiculous statements.” Instead, Times readers got the following:
It was not enough for Vice President Al Gore to venture a crisp pronunciation of Milosevic, as in Slobodan, the Yugoslav president who refuses to be pried from power. … Mr. Gore had to go a step further, volunteering the name of Mr. Milosevic’s challenger, Vojislav Kostunica. Then he had to go a step beyond that, noting that Serbia plus Montenegro equals Yugoslavia. … and as Mr. Gore loped effortlessly through the Balkans, barely able to suppress his self-satisfied grin, it became ever clearer that the point of all the thickets of consonants and proper nouns was not a geopolitical lesson. … it was more like oratorical intimidation, an unwavering effort to upstage and unnerve an opponent whose mind and mouth have never behaved in a similarly encyclopedic fashion.
Otherwise, you're occupying useless space.