Thursday, August 27

Nicely Said, Mr. Brooks. By The Way, Did You Realize What You Were Saying, Exactly?

IT'S possible that I've mentioned this before, but it seems a trifle odd calling something "The Conversation" when the only element of what we commonly consider "conversing" is Gail Collins occasionally starting out her obligatory 250 words with "David" (or, in truly terrifying moments, "Ross"). Though that's not as odd as the notion of our Balkanized politics being portrayed as a competition between the Silly Goose schools of Economic "conservatism" and "liberal" centrism, as though we were deeply divided over tuh MAY toe and toe MAH toe. By the way, the modern senses of spoken interchange and familiarity with a subject or object date to the late 17th century; in Middle English--and, please, check the back of the seat in front of you to make sure the barf bag is available, or try not to think of David Brooks, Gail Collins, and/or Ross Douthat for the remainder of the paragraph!--conversation meant "residing in a community, consorting" or "intimacy with", out of which, apparently, it came to mean (clear blue ocean, clear blue ocean) sexual intercourse with, which, yet more oddly, still survives as the historical obsolescence of criminal conversation, i.e., adultery.

Whoa. I got a little whoozy there myself, and I knew what, you should pardon the expression, was coming. Anyway, whenever I read one of these things I'm tempted to imagine the Slow News Monday last December some time when Brooks and Collins were spotted firing paperclips at a Dixie Cup, and a passing supervisor told them if they couldn't find anything to do he'd find something. The Conversation. Of course it's more likely the Times' excuse for giving each the expected raise plus COLA this bleak year, but I like my version better.

Oh, plus it's part of the Times' "blogs" section, whatever th' fuck that is, so it's also someone's idea of how to lure that portion of the younger, internet-savvy set which still reads Standard English (albeit with so little comprehension that it would test its skills on Gail Collins and David Brooks).

So today's buzz-creator is about Teddy, and I made it through the first two sentences:
David Brooks: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve become less enamored of charisma. It’s fun to cover a charismatic politician, but government is boring and in a healthy society it should be boring.

Now, leave us ignore temptation and behave like proper archaeologists working from the top down. A cursory examination of that first coprolite reminds us that the charismatic figures of Brooks' youth were Milton Friedman, Ronald Reagan, and William FuhBuckley. We suspect, to begin with, that Barely Legal Brooks, or any other sun-baked Yout of the day who found that trio of geriatric charlatans "charismatic" is, at the very least, operating under a different set of assumptions than the rest of us. We won't quibble over describing each as having followers, of course, but time has certainly questioned the source of the inspiration they provided (the scientific fakir in his Loincloth of Freedom; the Brahmin, and the Bubble-headed Spokesmodel, who had only just begun, by Brooks' reaching majority, to couch their racism). And that, at any rate, is distinct from having fallen under the sway of 80s "conservatism" as a young person, which has to raise the question, "What was it exactly that you didn't like about sex?"

If the aging Brooks is now less taken with actual corpses than he was, then, with the merely corpselike, well, all we can say is Wow, some surprise! Like, considering that the whole carnival burned down along with everyone inside. Like, considering that that big Burkean discussion group of a Party you belong too now considers Sarah Palin the IT Girl, and half a wit the maximum amount permissible. Y'know, maybe you could write about that directly some time. Say in the New York Times or something, Dave. Instead of you and Ross trying to survive on exhaust fumes, and convincing yourselves, and no one else, that a future Republican majority would somehow be different. More like yourselves.

And, okay, so we're just supposed to infer your Bush-era chastisement; I don't really expect anything more, such as personal honesty, from you or the rest of your cohort. Like Gene Lyons says today, all you people in the lucrative infotainment business saw what happened to the Dixie Chicks. You all know What to Kiss, and When. You were still pretty happy to toss rocks from the fifteenth row of the Bush Charisma mob, back when that still paid well, as I recall it.

But really, "government is boring and in a healthy society it should be boring?" We're a healthy society? Only if your definition of such is "one where David Brooks can make a living peddling shit as Shinola". Only in one where you ignore what the Republican party has become.


David said...

I'm still reading, loyally. Despite the permission granted by the blogosphere to comment on anything, anytime, regardless of brains or pertinence...I have nothing to say but keep at it, you wonderful man.


Brendan said...

Haven't even finished reading this one yet, but those first two paragraphs were so fucking great that I just had to break off and say so.

I don't know if I'll ever get that image of Brooks and Collins being busted firing paper clips at each other out of my head. I hope not, because when coming across that, suddenly, all my worries seemed a little less severe.

Forget "Mr. Riley." From now on, I'm calling you "Dr. Feelgood."

Brendan said...

(rest was also great)

jackd said...

Re a 20-ish David Brooks:
"What was it exactly that you didn't like about sex?"

Not getting any.

It had to be said.

Brendan said...

lol @jackd