Wednesday, September 3

Strap On Your Thinking Caps, America, As Old Gold Cigarettes And Your Local Sinclair Dealer Bring You Well, That's Remarkable!



David Brooks,
"What the Palin Pick Says". September 1

John McCain is not a normal conservative.
Well...that's Remarkable! David Brooks, since, starting with the collapse of the Republican party at the beginning of the second Bush term, you've been telling us how awesomely diverse "conservatism" is. But then suddenly, when its political fortunes are tied to a guy who is intensely hated by the biggest lunatics in his own party--not exactly a scarce commodity--for reasons that in the real world could only be termed "microscopic", suddenly there are "normal" and "abnormal" conservatives. And what's especially odd about that is, the more "normal" a person appears in real life, the more likely he is to be an "abnormal" conservative. And--especially,and--vice versa.
He has instincts, but few abstract convictions about the proper size of government.

I'm sorry, David Brooks, but...that's not Remarkable! So this might be a good time to reacquaint you, and the folks playing along at home, with the Old Gold™ Rulebook. Old Gold: not a cough in a carload! Okay, you are an extraordinarily overpaid political pundit whose sole requirement is to squeeze out roughly 1500 words a week, plus your main side gig, teaming every Friday with Mark Shields to reprise your Carl Reiner/Mel Brooks routine as The Prototypes for Disney World's Rejected Hall of Animatronic™ Talking Secretaries of Transportation, which, frankly, is beginning to wear a little thin, if you'll forgive some well-meant criticism. Your job, so far as any of us can tell, involves circulating Republican talking points while giving the impression of an imminent asthma attack, thus making anyone responding to even the most heinous of these seem like a heartless bully, and possibly a legally culpable one as well. To complete the image, you are supposed to seem uncomfortable with the torchlit crusading of the party's Bronze Age "social" "conservatives" without, naturally, denouncing their excesses or turning away their votes.

So in this instance, for example, reciting your high school debate team talking points --oops, sorry, I forgot; you were a "liberal" back then, am I right? Eh?--about "the proper size of government" (now marked down from "shrinking the size of government") is simply too much at odds with "Reality" to be Remarkable. Ronald Reagan talked practically non-stop about his abstract intentions to reduce the size of government, and when he left the federal payroll was 10% larger and the budget was up 25%, and there was a new cabinet position. Bush II, of course, is worse yet, although the cabinet thing remains tied.
He’s a traditionalist, but is not energized by the social conservative agenda.

He seems to pander to it pretty energetically, though.
As Rush Limbaugh understands, but the Democrats apparently do not, a McCain administration would not be like a Bush administration.

Okay, we haven't made it out of the first paragraph yet, and you're already flailing.  Deep cleansing breath.  Let's just run through that list of McCain's supposed apostasies, shall we? First, and foremost, he co-sponsored campaign finance reform. Two, he sass-mouthed Jerry Falwell and Bob Jones U. back in 2000, though seven years later he'd join the choir and endow a pew. Three, he voted against The Bush Tax Cuts, because he insisted on program cuts to go with them. Four, he has, on occasion, behaved like a Senator, notably in that Gang of Fourteen business, which, one might note, got the so-called "Democrats" in the Senate to agree not only to dance at the successive bachelor parties for John Roberts and Sam Alito, but to do so strictly for tips, in exchange for the Republicans not doing something (the "nuclear option") which would not exactly have played well everywhere.  The fact that Limbaugh has chosen to release torrents of intestinal gas while McCain was in the elevator with him does not constitute a GOP policy dispute for most sane people.

And speaking of gas, whenever you fill up, remember to look for Dino the Dinosaur and the fine family of Sinclair gas and lubrication products.
The main axis in McCain’s worldview is not left-right. It’s public service versus narrow self-interest. Throughout his career, he has been drawn to those crusades that enabled him to launch frontal attacks on the concentrated powers of selfishness — whether it was the big money donors who exploited the loose campaign finance system, the earmark specialists in Congress like Alaska’s Don Young and Ted Stevens, the corrupt Pentagon contractors or Jack Abramoff.

Judges? Okay, we're giving that one a Not Truly Remarkable, since simply making shit up about McCain's supposed anti-corruption track record while ignoring his campaign's continuing reliance on lobbyists is not Remarkable at all, but neatly parodying your own parody of Democratic National Convention platitudes from last week--if that's what you were up to--is.
Like McCain, Palin does not seem to have an explicit governing philosophy.

Okay, points for turning the negative space of Palin's accomplishments into a sort of amorphous blob of philosophical incertitude while simultaneously not being George Will. Remember, the "not George Will" bonus is available only once per round.
Her background is socially conservative, but she has not pushed that as governor of Alaska.

Unremarkably, since the "conservative" social agenda is 99% jawbone and 0.001% legislative action.

[Speaking of which, her Eagle Forum questionnaire, with the famous "If 'Under God' was good enough for the Founders it's good enough for me" response, seems to have been taken down, but the social agenda she "hasn't pushed" is still cached here. ]
She seems to find it easier to work with liberal Democrats than the mandarins in her own party.

Judges? Okay, the ruling is Not Remarkable, with a minor dissent on the grounds that reusing leftover Bush 2000 clichés is supposed to be avoided, just like all other references to the formerly misunderestimated Winston Churchill Junior. They're ruling that one inadvertent.

Incidentally, I'm from Indiana, where you get credit (or blame) for "working with liberal Democrats" if you pass Evan Bayh in the hall and wish him a good morning. So I'm just curious as to where Sarah Palin finds liberal Democrats to work with in Alaska? And what do they do--play three-handed Euchre?
Instead, she seems to get up in the morning to root out corruption. McCain was meeting a woman who risked her career taking on the corrupt Republican establishment in her own state, who twice defeated the oil companies, who made mortal enemies of the two people McCain has always held up as the carriers of the pork-barrel disease: Young and Stevens.

Fake bio, David. As Republican as, well, claiming to be a former liberal. That's your second warning.
The Palin pick allows McCain to run the way he wants to — not as the old goat running against the fresh upstart, but as the crusader for virtue against the forces of selfishness. It allows him to make cleaning out the Augean stables of Washington the major issue of his campaign.

Okay, again, we'll pass it, even though Augeas is a registered Republican and the last thirty years worth of oxen shit is the overflow from Reagan's bedpan.
So my worries about Palin are not (primarily) about her lack of experience.

Okay, Remarkable! in that in the previous 350 words you had not a) mentioned her lack of experience; b) talked about your reaction to it; nor c) led anyone to believe you thought the highest office in the Land required anything much beyond a lack of governing philosophy and a PR department with no scruples.
She seems like a marvelous person.

So do most sharpers at cards, except they tend to avoid lying to your face before the pot gets big.
She is a dazzling political performer.

That's Conditionally Remarkable! David Brooks. How many times, exactly, had you seen her before Monday's deadline? Two?
And she has experienced more of typical American life than either McCain or his opponent.

I'm warning you, Brooks. Not only are you out of here if you pull that Bobo shit again, but I'm going to personally give you an asthma attack that'll last til Election Day.
On Monday, an ugly feeding frenzy surrounded her daughter’s pregnancy. But most Americans will understand that this is what happens in real life, that parents and congregations nurture young parents through this sort of thing every day.

Just as an aside, does it hurt when you type something like that? Is there some point where every artifact of self-respect has crumbled to dust?
My worry about Palin is that she shares McCain’s primary weakness — that she has a tendency to substitute a moral philosophy for a political philosophy.

Just like Old Golds™ have a tendency to taste rich, smooth, and mild. C'mon, Brooks. She's a fucking Jesus-addled nutball.
There are some issues where the most important job is to rally the armies of decency against the armies of corruption: Confronting Putin, tackling earmarks and reforming the process of government.

Now, that's truly Remarkable! seeing as how it was the combination of Christ-like certitude and neocon "morality"-based foreign policy that provoked the Sov Russia into jabbing a stick in our eye the minute it had the chance, while Republican-controlled Congresses kept bettering their own earmark records in a way Michael Phelps would have envied. As for "reforming the process of government", what? The biggest dump ever taken on the Constitution, absent rebel armies being camped 100 miles from DC, wasn't enough reform for you?
But most issues are not confrontations between virtue and vice. Most problems — the ones Barack Obama is sure to focus on like health care reform and economic anxiety — are the product of complex conditions. They require trade-offs and policy expertise. They are not solvable through the mere assertion of sterling character.

Wait, David, Vertigo! is on another network. There's a clear-cut moral imperative for us to act as though we can order Russia around--in the Caucases!--but protecting the health of our own citizens is a tricky moral quandary lined with metaphysical landmines? Do you shave yourself in the morning?
McCain is certainly capable of practicing the politics of compromise and coalition-building. He engineered a complex immigration bill with Ted Kennedy and global warming legislation with Joe Lieberman. But if you are going to lead a vast administration as president, it really helps to have a clearly defined governing philosophy, a conscious sense of what government should and shouldn’t do, a set of communicable priorities.

BZZZZZTT! I'm so sorry, but three inadvertent Bush clichés and you're Out! like one of those cigarettes that doesn't use Old Gold's™ luxury blend of carefully selected tobaccos from around the globe! Here's a carton for you, plus our home game, and a $25 gift certificate to Red Lobster.  Better luck next time, David Brooks, and when you see Mark Shields, talk retirement! G'nite, folks!

6 comments:

Marion in Savannah said...

God, I love it when you go after Bobo. Nobody flays him alive the way you do. It is one of my fondest wishes that people send him copies of your take-downs...

James Stripes said...

But most Americans will understand that this is what happens in real life, that parents and congregations nurture young parents through this sort of thing every day.

Of course we do. I ask my son (about the age of Palin's daughter) when he gets home from school each day three questions?

From whom did you buy drugs?
How much did you make reselling them?
Who did you get pregnant during lunch?

Seriously, though, Brooks says Rush Limbaugh understands and you keep reading?

the bunny said...

"But if you are going to lead a vast administration as president, it really helps to have a clearly defined governing philosophy, a conscious sense of what government should and shouldn’t do, a set of communicable priorities."

Republican answer for all three: Help the rich; screw the middle class; screw the poor.
Democratic answer for all three:
Help the rich; pander to the middle class; screw the poor.

Why does Bobo talk about philosophy? Because he can't do real work for a living.

map106 said...

Wait, excuse my alcohol addled mind, but I'm really confused. Was Bobo's article an endorsement of Obama?

I don't know if the last paragraph you report is the final in Brook's article, but "it really helps to have a clearly defined governing philosophy" is sort of, no exactly what he stated McCain and Palin lacked.

Did I miss something? Or is that the remarkableness part? What seems remarkable to me is that he supports two someones he claims do not possess the philosophy he states is necessary for the jobs.

Anonymous said...

Like McCain, Palin does not seem to have an explicit governing philosophy ... But if you are going to lead a vast administration as president, it really helps to have a clearly defined governing philosophy...

Welp, according to Brooks, McCain is out. He just struck out swinging playing T-ball.

Rugosa said...

This is classic Bobo - he gives the reader reason after reason why his premise is wrong. McCain/Palin lack a clear governing philosopy; most problems are not battles between virtue and vice; personality is not enough.

If you read this essay not knowing that Brooks is a Republican hack, you might think he's a Democratic hack.