David Brooks reminds me of one of those film aliens who disguise themselves in human skin. For half the movie, they're just friendly people. Then, when things get serious, they peel off the skin, reveal their reptilian, disgusting alien form, and go about their real business of destroying the world.
Brooks has made an excellent living as the "reasonable conservative." Why he's even won awards for "civility." He engages in oh so decorous banter with Mark Shields on the News Hour. He writes a lot of columns about noble sounding philosophical issues. He even sometimes dares to criticize some of the loons in the Republican party (when it's relatively safe, like in the case of Sarah Palin).
But he also can't help sometimes peeling off his human, civilized skin to reveal the alien right wing zealot that he certainly was outwardly in the '90s and Bush II years, but has done his best to conceal so he can continue his Times and $50,000 speaking gigs.
Yesterday, for example, on Meet the Press, Brooks weighed in on the President's foreign policy:
“Basically since Yalta we’ve had an assumption that borders are basically going to be borders and once that comes into question if in Ukraine or in Crimea or anywhere else, then all over the world all bets are off.
“And let’s face it, Obama, whether deservedly or not, does have a – I’ll say it crudely – but a manhood problem in the Middle East. Is he tough enough to stand up to somebody like Assad or somebody like Putin? I think a lot of the rap is unfair but certainly in the Middle East there is an assumption that he’s not tough enough.”*
No, David, saying your own statement is "crude," doesn't excuse its crudeness and insult. Especially when it's simply and utterly wrong. For example, Steve Benen
reminds us that as for "standing up to Assad," that already happened last year, "when Obama threatened military force and Assad agreed to give up his chemical-weapons stockpiles". As for other examples of toughness, Benen cites:
It was this president who escalated the use of force against al Qaeda; it was this president that launched the mission that killed bin Laden; it was this president who increased the use of predator drones to strike at terrorist suspects (including killing Americans affiliated with al Qaeda living abroad); it was this president who helped assemble an international coalition to strike at the Gadhafi regime in Libya; and on and on.
Brooks' phony tough guy pose was echoed by the reliably hackish Chuck Todd, who sagely opined, "You know, it’s not just Bob Corker saying it, okay, questioning whether the president is being alpha male. That’s essentially what he’s saying: He’s not alpha dog enough. His rhetoric isn’t tough enough.”
Yes -- it's not just Corker -- it's you and Brooks!
I don't think you have to be a shrink to conclude that these tough guy, armchair "alpha dogs" just may be compensating for some inadequacy of their own anatomy or consciousness.
I just hope that when Stephen Colbert moves to CBS he will find a way to take with him The Alpha Dog of the Week. Lord knows there will continue to be many deserving candidates, including resident alien David Brooks.
*Updated (based on comments) to provide full Brooks quote. Some comments argued that lack of context mitigated Brooks' comments somewhat. I don't agree. In fact, I commented that the context actually makes it worse:
First, what evidence does he have that any Middle Easterner perceives Obama as having a "manhood" problem. Second, it's disingenuous to attribute your own likely feelings to others when you don't have any support from the others. Third, it doesn't help to say "lot of the rap is unfair" when you've just made a very insulting, unsupported criticism -- it's a weak attempt to run away from the slander you just committed.
In fact, it's classic Brooks passive aggression -- just like the Fox News "some say" technique. Brooks' attempt to impute to unidentified "Middle Easterners" what are clearly his own (or the "CW") sentiments makes it actually worse.