|A Brooksian Nightmare|
New York Times columnist David Brooks looked at Occupy Wall Street today, and liked not what he saw. The protesters are a "flamboyant fringe" getting all the media attention. Normal people are suffering in silence, living lives of quiet desperation simply because it is the right thing to do. According to him, people are having fewer children because they are pessimistic spoil-sports about the future, not because of financial hardship. They are cutting up their credit cards, not because their credit scores are in the toilet, but because they have experienced the sudden epiphany that thrift is a virtue in and of itself. And they're sticking with their jobs, not because they have no other choice, but because they have discovered the value of loyalty. It's a "Values Restoration" to combat the OWS radicalism!
A few years ago there was a celebration of Free Agent Nation. But now most people, even most young people, would rather work long-term for one company than move around in search of freedom and opportunity.... This values restoration is reshaping the way Americans see the world around them. Many economists say the cutback in consumption will hurt the economy in the short run. But, according to the Heartland Monitor poll, 61 percent of Americans said the decline in consumption would “help the economy as it would create more savings that could be invested to create or expand business.”
Yep, the 99ers of the unemployment rolls are just sitting around telling pollsters that they're saving their benefit checks to invest in a booming business someday rather than blowing their cash on food or shoes for the kids. Pay no attention to the 80 percent of disgruntled souls who say they have no faith in government and that income disparity is grossly unfair. The Americans of David Brooks's addled imagination are hunkered down and saving for the future. They have patience. Never mind that patience, as defined by Ambrose Bierce a century ago, is "a minor form of despair, disguised as a virtue".
Brooks waxes nostalgic about the past:
If, in the 1960s, you had tried to judge America by looking at the sit-ins and Woodstock, you would have had a very distorted picture of where the country was heading. You wouldn’t have been able to predict that Richard Nixon would win the youth vote in 1972, which he did. You wouldn’t have been able to predict that Republicans would go on to win four out of the next five presidential elections, a streak only interrupted by Jimmy Carter, who ran as a conservative Democrat.He doesn't seem to get that OWS is not a three-day love in, nor is it made up solely of disaffected youth, nor does it have much of anything to do with partisan politics. The poll he didn't see fit to mention was the one conducted by Time showing that 86 percent think that “Wall Street and its lobbyists have too much influence in Washington” and another 79 percent believe that “the gap between rich and poor in the United States has grown too large.”
Brooks obviously got the info that more people know about the Amanda Knox case and the death of Steve Jobs than the protest from a poll conducted in the first week of OWS, when the movement wasn't even being covered by the mainstream press. According to the latest Quinnipiac poll, even the majority of Republicans believe the protesters have a right to be in Zuccotti Park.
Poor David. The Republican Party has sunk so far from the heyday of beloved felonious Vice President Spiro Agnew and his angst about the "nattering nabobs of negativism" in a mainstream media that was then policed by the Fairness Doctrine. Brooks strives to be the voice of the restoration of the always-mythical "Silent Majority" -- but he just can't do it like Spiro (or his speechwriters Pat Buchanan and William Safire) who railed against the "pusillanimous pussyfooters" and the " hopeless hysterical hypochondriacs of history."
The best alliteration he can come up with is "flamboyant fringes." Pretty sad. But what more can you expect when your 2012 party platform revolves around killer electric border fences and 9-9-9 numerology?