David Brooks got the 3 a.m. phone call from the Board of Overlords:
Culture wars and right-wing wedge issues are Out. Diversity and loving-kindness are In. Otherwise, Ted Cruz might win the nomination and lose to Hillary Clinton. So enough already with the bigotry and the religious paranoia. Up with Obama-style centrism (social liberalism balanced with economic conservatism.)
Taking a page from the postmodern GOP playbook (see my previous post) Brooks told the reactionary Christian Coalition wing of the party to stuff it for awhile, and play the part of Obama-style community organizers. It worked once for a Democratic corporatist, so why shouldn't it work for a Republican corporatist too?
Of course, this synopsis is only the crass political subtext of today's New York Times column from the Pundit to the Plutes. Telling moralizers like his colleague Ross Douthat to stop moralizing over the scourge of birth control and gay marriage, Brooks moralized:
Otherwise, rich Republican politicians might lose a few, the CEO-to-worker pay ratio might plummet from 350:1 to 348:1 under a Clinton restoration, and there might not be any more Scalia clones to amuse us to death once the original disappears into a puddle of bile. So think before you hate, haters! Here's the Brooksian formula as dictated by the Wall Street wing of the party:These conservatives are enmeshed in a decades-long culture war that has been fought over issues arising from the sexual revolution. Most of the conservative commentators I’ve read over the past few days are resolved to keep fighting that war.I am to the left of the people I have been describing on almost all of these social issues. But I hope they regard me as a friend and admirer. And from that vantage point, I would just ask them to consider a change in course.
Notice how Brooks strains to emulate Obama's "We Shall Overcome" eulogy. He even dips into Biblical anaphora -- the rhetorical device often used by the president (and preachers) which repeats the first part of sentences over and over again -- "those are the people" -- for maximum emotional, moralizing, co-opting impact.Social conservatives could be the people who help reweave the sinews of society. They already subscribe to a faith built on selfless love. They can serve as examples of commitment. They are equipped with a vocabulary to distinguish right from wrong, what dignifies and what demeans. They already, but in private, tithe to the poor and nurture the lonely.The defining face of social conservatism could be this: Those are the people who go into underprivileged areas and form organizations to help nurture stable families. Those are the people who build community institutions in places where they are sparse. Those are the people who can help us think about how economic joblessness and spiritual poverty reinforce each other. Those are the people who converse with us about the transcendent in everyday life.
Here is my published Times response to Rev. Mr. Brooks:
They thought their southern strategy to suck up the votes of poor white people was safe for all eternity, until a mass shooting in a Black church made everybody notice what a hateful symbol the Confederate flag truly is.
Their sustained ACA-repealing dog-whistle, sending the message that Poors and Blacks don't deserve to live, just got a big wad of gum stuck in it, courtesy of the Court.
And marriage equality becoming the law of the land in all 50 states? It's been a perfect trifecta of loss for the GOP.
So what to do, now that the rebel yell is losing its oomph? The GOP changes course overnight, resurrecting the stale Poppy Bush-era propaganda of "compassionate conservatism" This column is a very cute way of both endorsing Jeb! and repudiating such losers as Ted Cruz and Mike Huckabee. There's an election to be won, bloodthirsty Neocons waiting to claw their way back into power, fear to be struck into the hearts of America in the name of "national security."
While reciting his Christian litany, Brooks is very careful to emphasize that love for the poor will be purely voluntary. The hyper-rich will not be taxed as they "tithe and nurture" on their own private terms. Opportunity will still abound for pathologizing poor people as conservatives dellcately venture into "underprivileged areas" for daytime photo-ops, and then slash the social safety net to ribbons under cover of darkness.
Brooks's litany of hypocrisy is the smell of GOP desperation in the morning.