DAVID Brooks looks into his post-Iowa crystal ball and sees...a reflection of David Brooks. What a surprise.
I'm a slow learner, so here's my nugget of obliviousness for 2008: Politicians (viz. Mike Huckabee, Barack Obama) eventually have to turn their collection of platitudes into some sort of action; it's the punditocracy that gets to pander for votes twelve months of every twelvemonth with no regard for the payoff.
Barack Obama has won the Iowa caucuses. You’d have to have a heart of stone not to feel moved by this. An African-American man...
Hello, Dave? Is this David Brooks? Hey, hi, Dave, it's me, 1961. You remember, the year you were born? Look, I'm not surprised you don't recognize my voice, 'cause you never bother to look me up. Oh, sure, once a year I get some offhand Camelot reference, but...anyway, me an' some of the other Bygones were sitting around drinkin' coffee and kicking around your article--I mean that literally, Dave--and, well, y'know, I've got the Freedom Riders, and the Albany Project, and some of the other guys have bus boycotts and sit-ins and mass arrests, Marches on Washington and Voting Rights Acts and Edmund Pettis Bridges or assassinations, and we sorta agreed that for the last forty of us your party, Dave, has had next to no use for any of the African-Americans involved in those, yet here you are lecturing people on how they ought to have an emotional attachment to an African-American candidate for the other party's nomination! And, well, it seemed a touch facile, you know? Jes' sayin'. Hey, nice talkin' to you, and maybe we'll see you at that virtual touch football game in Hyannisport this summer, huh? Bunghole.
wins a closely fought campaign in a pivotal state.
"Pivotal"? Th' fuck's pivotal about Iowa? The only time in a century seven votes would have decided a Presidential election Iowa went for Gore. The only postwar election where Iowa didn't vote for the actual winner (ahem, of the popular vote) was 1976. Iowa may be in play, but it's a trailing indicator at best. No non-incumbent has won his party's caucus on gone on to be elected, and only one--George W. Bush--wound up in the White House anyway.
He beats two strong opponents, including the mighty Clinton machine. He does it in a system that favors rural voters. He does it by getting young voters to come out to the caucuses.
1) It may be a happy day when young voters decide an election, or it may not, but by all means call me when it happens, because the next time will be the first; 2) "a system that favors rural voters" is a peculiar way to say "94% white", and he won among people who described themselves as "Democrats", not those who called themselves "clodhoppers"; and 3) we do not accept the idea that professional political wordsmiths use terms like "machine" accidentally, which means we smell the Klintoon Khronicles, v. 2008 at work. Fine. Just leave us remember who got depantsed in the Racist Reagan Sweepstakes. "Clinton Juggernaut" we accept. "Clinton Express", no problem. The suggestion of a political machine, coming from a Republican, is a mirth provoker. So's stealing your lunch money. For the time being, let's just admit there's a sizable anti-Clinton machine that's still fascinated with Bill's You Know, which apparently cannot be shamed into quitting.
And Americans are not going to want to see this stopped. When an African-American man is leading a juggernaut to the White House, do you want to be the one to stand up and say No?
Not if you're a Republican and you're saying it in print, anyway. Or if you're saying it out loud before sundown, you're alone, and your sheet's still at the dry cleaners.
I'd just like to note here that this notion of America as a place somewhere over the Hudson just waiting to clasp a black man to its Kumbaya-hummin' bosom comes from the same wing of the Republican party which was shocked a couple of years back to learn it had been sharing a platform with Christian extremists. And it's not exactly as if you have to sully your beautiful mind at LGF to find racist attacks on Obama. Rush Limbaugh gets invited to the White House, doesn't he?
Obama has achieved something remarkable. At first blush, his speeches are abstract, secular sermons of personal uplift — filled with disquisitions on the nature of hope and the contours of change.
Sorta like a David Brooks book, except for "abstract, secular sermons of personal uplift" you substitute "crabgrass".
Yet over the course of his speeches and over the course of this campaign, he has persuaded many Iowans that there is substance here as well.
Or, as someone who wasn't trying to spin the Iowa caucus results to reflect his opinion of all things Clinton might put it, he got several hundred Iowans to vote for him in a glorified straw poll.
Obama is changing the tone of American liberalism, and maybe American politics, too.
Okay, I've said it before, and I'll say it again: when you can't offer bullshit profundities on the Times Op-Ed page simply because you're one of its two designated Republican mouthpieces; when the public airwaves aren't dominated by liars, thieves, whores, and racists, and when being spectacularly wrong, or spectacularly dishonest, as a national pundit carries at least the same prospect of losing one's job as spitting in a hamburger while working at Burger King does, then we will have changed the tone of American politics.
Until then, Barack Obama is an accomplished guy with a line of patter that's won him some votes. He may be positioned to be the best Democratic candidate in terms of pulling the party together post-convention, but the idea that in the meantime he's subdued the party's activists and the general anger on the Left under the warm cloak of abstract secular sermons of personal uplift is a Republican fantasy, Dave, ol' lad.
On the Republican side, my message is: Be not afraid. Some people are going to tell you that Mike Huckabee’s victory last night in Iowa represents a triumph for the creationist crusaders. Wrong.
All righty, then. Glad we got that cleared up before there was any ugliness on the campaign trail.
Huckabee won because he tapped into realities that other Republicans have been slow to recognize. First, evangelicals have changed. Huckabee is the first ironic evangelical on the national stage. He’s funny, campy (see his Chuck Norris fixation) and he’s not at war with modern culture.
Um, meaning what, exactly? That your multinationalist chums won't have any pornoesque money-making schemes unduly hindered by public morals crusades? I think you might imagine that Huckabee would be the most beholden to that crowd of any Republican President, past, present, or potential, which means a religious-nut AG and a Christo-nutty FCC, which are GOP guarantees anyway--don't kid yourself about Maverick John, boy-o--and a lot state legislatures emboldened to do the work too dirty for the national party. And what else? There won't be another Schiavo, or ten, just because the man has a sense of humor?
I'm not worried about him--in fact I'd love to see him nominated--but you phony libertarians ought to be. "Evangelicals have changed" is the latest line from people who read the Times Sunday Magazine, not from people who actually know evangelicals. '08 was the shot they were waiting for, but they blew it by believing Bush's win in '04 was all about them. Suddenly they're revived. If they gain the White House again, through Huckabee or Thompson or, yes, Romney, they'll be looking for a big payoff. McCain won't be much better. But Huckabee would definitely be the worst.
...real middle-class families have more to fear economically from divorce than from a free trade pact. A person’s lifetime prospects will be threatened more by single parenting than by outsourcing. Huckabee understands that economic well-being is fused with social and moral well-being, and he talks about the inter-relationship in a way no other candidate has.
Ignoring the cringe quotient of "single parenting" for a moment--what happened to that Mike Huckabee guy who was here a paragraph ago? You know, the evangelical Christian? He's suddenly morphed into David Brooks giving his idea of a spiffy luncheon speech for Ecumenicalism Week. So you can construct an economic-esque argument against what evangelicals generally describe, rather more plainly, as Sin (while avoiding any mention of the behaviors they tend to focus public opprobrium on, like homosexuality, in favor of that amorphous single parentin', which, like divorce, evangelicals probably do more of than the general population). Big deal. It doesn't mean the matter's going to stop at President Huckabee lecturing poor women about keeping their legs crossed.
In that sense, Huckabee’s victory is not a step into the past. It opens up the way for a new coalition.Hey, give me ten minutes. I'd like to list every defense of that conservatism found in the columns of David Brooks before it became politically expedient.
A conservatism that recognizes stable families as the foundation of economic growth is not hard to imagine. A conservatism that loves capitalism but distrusts capitalists is not hard to imagine either. Adam Smith felt this way. A conservatism that pays attention to people making less than $50,000 a year is the only conservatism worth defending.
Will Huckabee move on and lead this new conservatism? Highly doubtful. The past few weeks have exposed his serious flaws as a presidential candidate. His foreign policy knowledge is minimal. His lapses into amateurishness simply won’t fly in a national campaign.
And give me another five; I'd list to recount every instance of David Brooks saying this about George W. Bush, misunderestimated candidate.
So the race will move on to New Hampshire. Mitt Romney is now grievously wounded. Romney represents what’s left of Republicanism 1.0. Huckabee and McCain represent half-formed iterations of Republicanism 2.0. My guess is Republicans will now swing behind McCain in order to stop Mike.
How convenient for you. Republicans will now rally around the candidate who most resembles David Brooks, in order to stop the one whom he most fears but can't say so, whose constituency, the Changed Evangelicals, will then silently go right along with this in order to help create Republicanism 2.0, belatedly justify a foolish support for an idiotic war, and be content with a nice, half-assed, conveniently doomed School Prayer Amendment or two. Looks like another bright shiny year for you guys.
And here's the thing I'd like to know, though I realize it's a busy season for pundifyin': supposing either man does get elected President. What steps are the other's supporters planning to take toward ending partisanship then, huh?