David Brooks, Famed Conservative-Politics Writer Is Burned Out By Trump, Leaving Politics For Good
By ursulafaw August 9, 2017
What will we ever do without David Brooks and his moral compass?
David Brooks doesn’t love us any more and has informed the New York Times that he will no longer be writing about politics in their pages. More specifically, David Brooks doesn’t love the Republicans any more, after seeing the lengths to which they were and are willing to go to maintain power. Brooks particularly doesn’t love Donald Trump any more, saying about Trump, There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative. That sounds about right. Crooks & Liars:
Future historians who want to get a good bead on what things were like during the inmates-running-the-asylum madhouse of American politics in the Year of our Lord 2017 could do worse than study Mr. David Brooks’ column in The New York Times today in some detail.
It is no exaggeration to say that Mr. Brooks spent every hour of his professional career boosting Republicans and Conservatism, mocking Democrats and Liberals, and relentlessly positioning himself as America’s Most Ubiquitous Conservative Public Intellectual. And yet, in 2017 during the Republican Party’s Year of Jubilee — the year when Mr. Brooks’ Republican Party owned every branch of the federal government and Mr. Brooks’ Conservative Movement had effectively conquered the media both through direct propaganda efforts (Fox News/Hate Radio/etc.) and by bludgeoning the “mainstream media” into a state of meek complicity — Mr. Brooks announced that he was suddenly sick and tired writing about Conservatism or politics.
Which means that, other than the brief “Jewels of Nuance” period during the Age of Bush when Mr. Brooks (and every other Conservative writer) felt it was finally safe to let their inner Sean Hannity completely out and use their public platforms to heap unalloyed contempt and slander on the Dirty Libtards, Mr. Brooks has spent most of his career assiduously avoiding any actual, honest reportage on the state of Conservative politics and culture.
David Brooks, whether he would ever admit it or not, is responsible for this “false equivalence” insanity which has overtaken the media, “both sides do it,” ad nausem.
Instead, Mr. Brooks has been in the business of delighting his employers and media colleagues by spinning elaborate fairy tales about how cool the GOP used to be, or how terrific the GOP was going to be in the near future, or how awesome it would be if we had a third party because both the Republicans and the Democrats sucked so hard. It didn’t really matter to his employers and colleagues in what order Mr. Brooks told his three basic lies, and it didn’t really matter how quickly reality would overtake them and smash them to bits every single time. All that mattered was that, whatever five-alarm sh*tfire the Republican Party was dancing nekkid around today shrieking about Kenyan Death Panels and Emails and Benghaaazi…Mr. Brooks’ could be counted on to deliver 800 words of tapioca explaining that, somehow, Both Sides were always to blame.
Brooks is partly responsible for this Frankenstein’s monster being in the White House, but he won’t cop to it.
But of all of those who profited personally, politically and professionally from debasing our media and corroding our politics, the worst of them were those who knew better. Those like Mr. David Brooks, who made a whole career out of building a monster, and then frantically scuttled away and blamed everyone but themselves when the monster they made kicked the laboratory door off its hinges and then ran amok, nearly destroying the country.
These are his final words to us:
“One way or another I’m gonna wash that man [Trump] right outta what’s left of my hair.”
Thanks, David. Don’t worry about anything, we’ll clean up the mess. Don’t let the door hit you in the ass.
New York Times Opinion Pages
Getting Trump Out of My Brain
David Brooks, Op-Ed Columnist August 8, 2017
President Trump salutes a soldier on his way to Marine One at the White House this month. Credit Brendan Smialowski/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Last week The Washington Post published transcripts of Donald Trump’s conversations with foreign leaders. A dear friend sent me an email suggesting I read them because they reveal how Trump’s mind works. But as I tried to click the link a Bartleby-like voice in my head said, “I would prefer not to.” I tried to click again and the voice said: “No thanks. I’m full.”
For the past two years Trump has taken up an amazing amount of my brain space. My brain has apparently decided that it’s not interested in devoting more neurons to that guy. There’s nothing more to be learned about Trump’s mixture of ignorance, insecurity and narcissism. Every second spent on his bluster is more degrading than informative.
Now a lot of people are clearly still addicted to Trump. My Twitter feed is all him. Some people treat the Trump White House as the “Breaking Bad” serial drama they’ve been binge watching for six months. For some of us, Trump-bashing has become educated-class meth. We derive endless satisfaction from feeling morally superior to him — and as Leon Wieseltier put it, affirmation is the new sex.
But I thought I might try to listen to my brain for a change. That would mean trying, probably unsuccessfully, to spend less time thinking about Trump the soap opera and more time on questions that surround the Trump phenomena and this moment of history.
How much permanent damage is he doing to our global alliances? Have Americans really decided they no longer want to be a universal nation with a special mission to spread freedom around the world? Is populism now the lingua franca of politics so the Democrats’ only hope is to match Trump’s populism with their own?
These sorts of questions revolve around one big question: What lessons are people drawing from this debacle and how will those lessons shape what comes next?
It’s clear that Trump is not just a parenthesis. After he leaves things will not just snap back to “normal.” Instead, he represents the farcical culmination of a lot of dying old orders — demographic, political, even moral — and what comes after will be a reaction against rather than a continuing from.
For example, let’s look at our moral culture. For most of American history mainline Protestants — the Episcopalians, Methodists, Presbyterians and so on — set the dominant cultural tone. Most of the big social movements, like abolitionism, the suffragist movement and the civil rights movement, came out of the mainline churches.
As Joseph Bottum wrote in “An Anxious Age,” mainline Protestants created a kind of unifying culture that bound people of different political views. You could be Catholic, Jewish, Muslim or atheist, but still you were influenced by certain mainline ideas — the Protestant work ethic, the WASP definition of a gentleman. Leaders from Theodore Roosevelt to Barack Obama hewed to a similar mainline standard for what is decent in public life and what is beyond the pale.
Over the last several decades mainline Protestantism has withered. The country became more diverse. The WASPs lost their perch atop society. The mainline denominations lost their vitality.
For a time, we lived off the moral capital of the past. But the election of Trump shows just how desiccated the mainline code has become. A nation guided by that ethic would not have elected a guy who is a daily affront to it, a guy who nakedly loves money, who boasts, who objectifies women, who is incapable of hypocrisy because he acknowledges no standard of propriety other than that which he feels like doing at any given moment.
Donald Trump has smashed through the behavior standards that once governed public life. His election demonstrates that as the unifying glue of the mainline culture receded, the country divided into at least three blocks: white evangelical Protestantism that at least in its public face seems to care more about eros than caritas; secular progressivism that is spiritually formed by feminism, environmentalism and the quest for individual rights; and realist nationalism that gets its manners from reality TV and its spiritual succor from in-group/out-group solidarity.
If Trump falls in disgrace or defeat, and people’s partisan pride is no longer at stake, I hope that even his supporters will have enough moral memory to acknowledge that character really does matter. A guy can promise change, but if he is dishonest, disloyal and selfish, the change he delivers is not going to be effective or good.
But where are people going to go for a new standard of decency? They’re not going to go back to the old WASP ideal. That’s dead. Trump revealed the vacuum, but who is going to fill it and with what?
I could describe a similar vacuum when it comes to domestic policy thinking, to American identity, to America’s role in the world. Trump exposes the void but doesn’t fill it. That’s why the reaction against Trump is now more important than the man himself.
One way or another I’m gonna wash that man right outta what’s left of my hair.