Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Lonely Lunacy of David Brooks

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?


Kat said...

I know it is important for OWS to stick to the principles of non violence but...

James F Traynor said...

The guy is still living in the '50s.

Anne Lavoie said...

What a fuddyduddy. He needs some Geritol. NYT needs to put him out to pasture.

James said...


You are a formidable writer, critic, and proponent of what I have always thought to be true American values (or perhaps just human ones). I am glad you are on our side. Thanks for your support.

Will said...

If anyone needs a spiritual shower after exposure to the latest Brooksian bullshit, take a stroll over to Chris Hedges' neighborhood for his latest column and video.

Warning: Chris is positively CHEERY (and even gets a little weepy) in the video. OWS really IS changing the world, huh?


4Runner said...

A good anagram for David Brooks (thanx to wordsmith.com) is "Avid SOB Dork".

dean said...

David Brooks is nothing if not consistent; consistently wrong. It is shocking that he has a job writing opinion for a respected (?) newspaper when nothing he writes has any factual basis.

He throws together some elequent-sounding phrases and expects them to pass for critical reasoning.

They should pass alright, straight into the Numi.

Valerie said...

If you are interested in seeing if your Congress member and senators sold you out signing on to Obama's Free Trade agreements with Korea, Columbia and Panama you can check here http://my.firedoglake.com/iflizwerequeen/2011/10/13/analysis-of-the-trade-agreement-sell-out-of-the-majority/

All mine were good Yellow Dogs. I am sick of these Democrats who act like Republicans when it comes to doing the bidding of the corporations. I not only want another choice for president, I want true progressive choices for Congress.

I can only hope the OWS continues to grow and gain support and it will embolden truly progressive candidates to run for office.

Valerie said...

Karen brought the trade deals to my attention (and provided links) in her August 14 post "It's the Re-election, Stupid!"

"And what about those trade deals they insist will create American jobs? More prevarication. The deal with Columbia will enable even more corporations to pay off local drug cartels to get rid of trade unions who might be impeding their free enterprise. No jobs for us here, but plenty of graft, death and corruption south of the border. Ditto for Panama. This job-creator of a trade deal will allow tycoons and corporations one more safe, tax-free haven for their hoarded profits. The deal with South Korea will be Nafta-esque in its scope and consequences, with one more cheap labor market creating even more job exports and the potential for even more worker abuse if the impoverished "free zone" North Koreans are used as wage slaves."

Kat said...

Glad your letter is no.1 in response to the the mustache's latest variation on "the start up of you!" theme!
Geez, he fixates on one idea for a while and really drives it into the ground. I realize there is not much brain capacity there, but c'mon!

Valerie said...

Tommy Freedom writes a totally crap opinion piece in the NYT but the comments are great. Our Karen leads the way with Reader Recommendations (#1). Also check out Talbot’s comment (#42 – right after Karen) which portends things to come if we don’t revive good union manufacturing jobs in the U.S.

BTW Mike in Beijing (#4) confirms what my husband says about Chinese made products. Part of his job as Naval Architect is to inspect the workmanship and designs of boats built overseas being brought into the Australian market. The workmanship on the boats is shoddy to the point of being dangerous to the passengers and crew. I don’t blame the poor Chinese worker who is undereducated, under- skilled and worked to the point of exhaustion for pennies on the dollar. I blame the rich guy who thinks he can import a fishing boat on the cheap and then resell it for a profit.

And we need to really start putting pressure on our personal technology manufacturers – Yes, Apple and Dell, I am talking about you! This is the link to the Daily Mail article mentioned by one of the TF commenters that is chilling and gives a picture of what terrible conditions these factory workers endure – in a “good” factory. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1285980/Revealed-Inside-Chinese-suicide-sweatshop-workers-toil-34-hour-shifts-make-iPod.html What must it be like in a run of the mill toilette brush factory that Walmart or IKEA uses to make their cheap plastic products?

I am so glad “Free” Trade is finally being seen through something other than rose coloured glasses. Too bad Obama and the Democrats just pushed through more “Free” Trade agreements. Yeah! Great jobs plan O’Bummer!

Will said...

These new trade deals are sickening but hardly surprising. After all, we're the white men of The United Corporations of America. We've been killing/enslaving/suppressing/exploiting red, brown, and yellow people in the never-ending pursuit of gold coins and green paper for centuries!

Ugh. I think I just made myself even sicker.

eddie - papa said...

Your writing is wonderful, and more. I read you daily in the NY Times comments.
Many thanks.

Karen Garcia said...

Thanks Eddie!