Tuesday, October 11

The Eternal Spotless Locker And Its Occupants

David Brooks, "The Milquetoast Radicals". October 10

DAVID in NYC, in comments:
The locker-dwelling (or even unborn, as is the case of so many of them) citizens of the 60s just can't get over the fact that they weren't cool then, they aren't cool now, and nothing will ever, ever change that.

David Brooks in NYT, right on fucking cue:
It's the moderates in suits, not the Occupiers, who are the real cool kids, because we--I mean they--think deeply about things.

Been a while since I fleshed this out, so, by way of explaining that I never stuffed anyone in a locker, myself:

I entered high school in the west suburbs of Indianapolis in 1969. They were still trying to enforce a haircut code for boys, something which got blown up that very autumn when a fellow whose name I still remember won a lawsuit over that issue at his tonier, northside school. The one that gave us Mitch Daniels. Overnight, assistant principals across central Indiana had to put down the rulers they used to measure sideburns, and find something less vital to occupy their time.

As far as I recall, this directly affected exactly zero of my fellow students, except in the theoretical, freedom-increasing sense. We direct the court's attention to the Exhibit market "A": at the end of The Sixties, at the apothefuckingosis of Sex, Drugs, and Rock and Roll, in of one of the five largest high schools in Indiana, in a city of 750,000 (albeit one noted mostly for the opportunities it provided for unmolested slumber) you could have combed the halls without finding anyone who needed a comb.

By the time I was a senior, two years later, I couldn't walk down a hallway without some guy I didn't know, with his bellbottoms dragging a foot behind him like busted mudflaps, calling me Man or Dude in hopes of scoring some righteous weed I must be holding because of the length of my hair.

If anything, I hated those fuckers more than I hated the Young Republicans they were crowding out of the ecosystem.

And those are, in my obviously overstated but justified both as literary device and because I clearly have my finger on some sort of Deep Fucking Truth--the people that James Lileks met five years later in an even-more remote, god-forsaken and Christ-ridden part of the Prairie, when it was possible--maybe even compulsory--to be a dope smoking hippie, Freebird Division, and still be a star quarterback, let alone an all-purpose goon. Brooks and Reynolds came along shortly after; Goldberg and half the mastheads of NRO and the Weekly Standard after that. And, yes, I've been known to exaggerate for comic effect (Could a sane and civil society expect otherwise with these fucks, Your Honor?), but look at 'em. Maybe the preppies among 'em got laid before they turned 26, but you'd want to decide even that much on a case-by-case basis. With Kristol or Podhoretz, e.g., I'd wanna see a receipt, or a police report.

Look at 'em. Every one of those guys gives evidence of involuntary locker rash. Except Goldberg, who wouldn't fit in an NBA locker. And every one of them demonstrates an inability to admit, anywhere, the validity of the great social movements of the 50s and 60s that borders on Locker-Incarceration Syndrome levels of denial. You'll get a Brooksian "everybody believes women should get equal pay for equal work" now and then, and of course the obligatory paean to Martin Luther King once a year, but otherwise the difference between the "deep thought" of David Brooks or some NRO legacy pledge and the output of a robo-program designed to disagree with anything a long-haired teenaged hooligan, circa 1983, would have said about contemporary politics had he a) cared or b) been able to read is negligible. These guys found solace and a chaste sexual surrogacy (the Clean kink must be particularly attractive to the professional brown-noser, unless he's lucky enough to get paid for doing what he loves) in Reaganism, and the Right had already dived headfirst into its own little insular universe in which no Leftist critique troubled the ear, aside from the one the make up themselves. And it still is news.

[If you want my bona fides: I landed at Indiana University while Emmett ("Bob") Tyrrell was still playing out the twelve-year string begun when he handed out towels to Doc Counsilman's great IU swim teams of the early 60s. He was working as television pioneer and notable wingnut crank Sarkes Tarzian's butt boy, and bilking Indianapolis pharmaceutical heiresses on weekends to keep his Spectator going. Tyrrell had reached the conclusion that because he could think up ways to make fun of hippies it made him their intellectual superior, and that the fact that his stuff struck him as clever made up for the fact that no one else did.]

Take Brooks on the Occupiers. Please.

I'm not even going to bother quoting the guy. If you've heard the right-wing chatterphone response over and over--the one it took 'em a week or so to craft so they'd have time to avoid Teabagger toes, a mark of how much they're slipping, and how little official Republican officialdom and its mouthpieces actually know about real Teabaggers--you've already read Brooks' piece a hundred times without realizing it. Disorganized! Unfocused! Ill-informed! Not enough vandalism! You know. All the stuff these guys expressed such admiration for among anti-war demonstrations from 1963-2008.

What's the fucking excuse? None. Well, there's the attendant feature that Don't Tax Really Wealthy People gets another airing, like they're at a loss for venues in these trying times, but so fucking what? Even that has that Mitch Daniels, I'm-going-to-give-you-the-metaphysically-certain-Answer, but-if-you-respond-it'll-vanish cowardly isolation stench about it. Why does Brooks write this column? He can intellect rings around the dirtiest of hippies. Like the rest of the Finance wing of his party he's stuck now showing grudging admiration for grassroots politics (just kiddin'; he's required to show enough cognitive dissonance about this or any other matter to prove which side he's on) forced by circumstance to do just enough tap-dancing between Vox Populi Teabaggers and Possibly Dangerous Street Morons to sound like he's convinced himself he's given the matter a lot of thought. But in order to give himself that much credit he has to sound, in the main, like Erick Erickson with 25% more college and 55% less personal time allotted to polishing his gun collection. I might be half-joking, and I may be a little embarrassed to put my name on it--even my name!--but there has got to be some explanation for the lockstep promotion of every pathetic Did Not! argument that comes down the right-wing pike, and the hurried wagon-circling that goes on at the slightest perceived or invented threat to big business hegemony or the continuation of the Republican party as one of two majors, despite its philosophical anathema to the lives of 87% of the American public. Can there be a rational explanation for a willingness to appear irrational before an audience that can read? I think we may well be reduced to an emotional-disturbance explanation for even the most casual Republican behavior any more.

And Brooks uses--I'm not going to quote him today--the contention of a tax-exempt anti-tax foundation working for rich people to "prove" we can't tax the put-upon wealthy and make any significant dent in The Deficit. Which may or may not be true (or, rather, is true in an extremely limited sense, and an utter lie, rhetorically) . But if you tax them and the corporations they control at something approaching fair value, let alone fairness + sufficient justified income redistribution to keep the game from being rigged (that is, rigged any further), you'd accomplish a lot more. And just (re)-establishing the concept of Fairness would be a boon to the society and the darkest day for Capital since Roosevelt turned on his class. So, two good reasons.

You're fifty years old now, Mr. Brooks. Mitch Daniels is sixty, and Jonah Goldberg is nine. In your twenties, for whatever reason, possibly including Wedgies, you embraced a pop-philosophy which was both a) ludicrous and b) insistent upon a droning metaphysical certainty from its Acolytes. Now is the time--there's to be precious little other--to admit how fucking wrong you were and to try to help put things right for the sake of future generations you've fucked over. No, of course I don't expect you to. Now gimme that lunch money, fuckwit.


Fearguth said...

I thought Jonah was eight. He must've been double-promoted.

scripto said...

Dave's right. Occupy Wall Street has not cured cancer. Therefore they are stupid.

(And if you weren't holding you should have just said so instead of embarrassing me 40 years later.

David in NYC said...

First of all, Mr. Riley, being quoted at the top of one of your posts is -- seriously -- a great honor. Since my eyes were drawn first to the set-off block quote, I wondered why that sounded so familiar. ;-)

And I swear, though I work in the same building as Our Mr. Brooks, that I had no inkling that he was going to write anything like that. And never, in my most fevered imaginings, did I think that he would actually go as far as:

because we--I mean they--think deeply about things.

Jesus H. Christ on a cracker, you dumbfuck -- you are not "deep", you are not "profound", you are not a "thinker". Not then, not now, not ever. What you are, if I may quote my 60s self, is a tool of the Establishment. The fact that it pays well, or you wear a suit, or even that you write for the NY Effing Times, does not make you anything other than that.

Nobody wants to smoke dope with you, nobody wants to hang with you, nobody wants to get funky with you -- yesterday, today, or tomorrow -- not because you are "deep", but because you are an unmitigated douche who likes to brown nose the powers that be in the hopes that someday they'll let you eat at the Big Boys' table.

And believe me, most sentient beings can smell that unctuous slavering from at least a mile away.

David in NYC said...

For a calmer, more analytical explanation of why Our Mr. Brooks doesn't know his ass from a hole in the ground, try Dean Baker at CEPR.

In economics-speak (with which I am familiar; I have a graduate degree in Economics), this is a major bitch-slap.

nanute said...

Brooks is still trying to get a seat at the big boys table. I have a strange feeling that once he gets there, they'll stuff his moronic ass in a locker somewhere.

michael said...

Hell, I was one of the skinny, hair-down-to-his ass dope smokers in high school...non-violent, playing in a band, shy...and even today I'd pants Brooks, then slam him into a locker. With gusto.

I remember David Brooks in 2001, jumping up and down because Sandra Day O'Connor gave it to Bush 43/Cheney. A couple years later he started backpedalling. Sorry, Brooksy: some of us remember.

What an utter brown-nosing lapdog twit.

Anonymous said...

Well, who can speak for every situation everywhere at all times, but I think you have locker-stuffers and -stuffees wrong. My recollection is Brooks' type (milquetoasted, colorless, smug) would have been standing sniggering nearby as some perfectly nice-but-nerdish kid was tormented by a large-for-his-age quasi-brownshirt. For the crime of being interested in something. The something wasn't the crime, being interested was.

If Brooks had actually suffered such indignities he might be capable of living sympathy, not just mumble-mouthed rationalizations for continued injustice.


77south said...

If Brooks could do anything other than mumble mouthed rationalizations for continued injustice, he wouldn't have the job he has. The Times was looking for a first-rank craven toadying lickspittle when they hired him, and boy howdy did they ever get what they were looking for.