Friday, May 16

If You Need Me, I'll Be In The Storm Cellar.

David Brooks, "Obama Admires Bush." May 16

OKAY, first:  that's George Herbert Walker Bush, and if you'd like to take a moment to scream about deceptive headlines, I'll wait.

Second, George Herbert Walker Bush? What, the Reagan comment wasn't enough for this guy? What's next? Nixon went to China? Herbert Hoover really had us on the right track? Roger B. Taney was misunderstood?  

Thirdly, fourthly, and fifthly, as the Bush Obama doesn't admire would say...well, okay, I don't think I have three more points. I just wanted to say that, having endured Bush the Dumber saying "fourthly" the other day, on The Daily Show, where they thought the gag was that he'd opened with  something like "There are three things to keep in mind..." whereas I just really, really hate the construction, and I don't care who accepts it, OED, it still sounds idiotic. Does one say, "Seven comes fourthly in the list of Primes?" No, one does not.

All right, then, lastly, don't mind me. I've decided to increase my caffeine intake, just as an exercise in health contrarianism, and it's making me a little jumpy. I'm sure I'll get used to it. In the meantime, I don't really hold this particularly bit of stupidity against Senator Obama, because the overt stupidity is being manufactured to get him, and because, given the electorate they have to work with, it's possible to defend practically anything a politician says as just something he has to say to get elected, just as it's possible to defend almost anything that outrages the general sensibility of the American voter as most likely true. (This is not to say I do not welcome the inevitable explanation from Progressives, as I'm curious to know if He Didn't Really Mean It again, or if Iraq War I is now the touchstone of acceptable US foreign policy. )

No, I'd rather look at Brooks, who is in full passive-aggressive simper mode here, with the Special Republican Talking Points you're not supposed to be able to see without the Secret Decoder Ring, because Brooks is, you know, reasonable.

Who's supposed to be falling for this stuff? Once in a while I run into someone who says, "Oh, I used to like Brooks," or "his book was pretty funny," just as I occasionally see where someone confesses he liked Lieks' earlier, funnier carpet samples. But the question is, "how long could it have taken you to get over it?" and the corollary, "Why's he still there?" Or, as chuckling said the other day about the late Jane Galt: Yea, but what's her publisher's excuse?

Shouldn't the Times require something like a yearly road-worthiness test of its columnists? Shouldn't Brooks have to demonstrate the metaphorical ability to parallel park? Can't we check his emissions?

Hezbollah, Lebanon, Obama, negotiations, blah blah blah. Is it too much, really, to ask that Brooks act like he remembers who's President, let alone what sort of fluffing the man used to receive for his Codpiece Diplomacy, from the likes of, say, David Brooks? It's the final fucking months, Allah akbar, of Commander Negotiation Is Appeasement, not the first hopeful moments of sunshine after the smoking hulk of Jimmy Appeasement Carter's Disastrous Reign. So how's that No Negotiations thing workin' out?
Is Obama naïve enough to think that an extremist ideological organization like Hezbollah can be mollified with a less corrupt patronage system and some electoral reform? Does he really believe that Hezbollah is a normal social welfare agency seeking more government services for its followers? Does Obama believe that even the most intractable enemies can be pacified with diplomacy? What “Lebanese consensus” can Hezbollah possibly be a part of?
If Obama believes all this, he’s not just a Jimmy Carter-style liberal. He’s off in Noam Chomskyland.

Let us try to be reasonable and open-minded about this. In the seventy years since the end of WWII spurred the Second Great Awakening of innate American empire lust, and the Truman administration strong-armed the creation of the State of Israel, there are, arguendo, three American contributions to its continued existence: massive foreign and military aid, the possible transfer of nuclear technology (so far), and the Camp David Accords, which ended the state of war between Israel and her largest enemy and fractured pan-Arabism. See if you can name the American President who pulled that one off. [Bonus question: how many battalions did he use?]

Let us further state that the difference between Stark Raving Chomskyism and the alternatives is that SRC hasn't yet failed in practice.

We might, while we're at it, note the accomplishments of two of our most activist post-war Presidents in terms of using military force to accomplish US aims: both Eisenhower and Reagan invaded Lebanon. Ike's even went pretty well, assuming you're a fan of propping up Christian control of Muslims agitated by the final act of the old Anglo-French imperialism. Reagan, well, not so good. And we'll add we're back talking about Lebanon, again, for the second time in the Codpiece administration.

As for Senator Obama, we're in full agreement here. There was absolutely nothing else the Bush I administration could have done in response to Kuwaiti slant-drilling unprovoked aggression by Saddam Hussein, a man the Reagan/Bush administration had repeatedly tried to rein in. And no one can argue that, after the US and Coalition forces invaded, there was not a single occurrence of the horrific use of incubator babies for bayonet practice.


D. Sidhe said...

I dunno, I used to like Brooks. His movies were pretty good, anyway, up until that Robin Hood thing. He's gone nuts, lately. Oh, wait, what?

(In fairness, I always suspect this is what I'm really hearing from the I-Used-To-Like-Brooks crowd. It's just another lie I tell myself about my fellow citizens to keep myself sane.)

Anonymous said...

Of course one doesn't say "seven comes fourthly in the list of Primes." That would be a stupid assertion, such as might come from the mouth of Bush the Dumber. Seven actually comes fifthly.

Anonymous said...

Yeah me too, I used to like Brooks when I was a kid. Even then I somehow responded to Eve Arden's sarcastic tone every time she opened her lovely lemon-curdled mouth. Whattagal! Three-hundred-and-twenty-eighthly, Richard Crenna sure fooled me with that high-pitched Walter Denton voice. But then they took it off the air.

Signed in protosenile wiggle,

His (XXX) marque


bjkeefe said...


Seven actually comes fifthly.

You're not counting 1 as a prime number, I hope. (First four are 2, 3, 5, and 7.)

If, however, you were just piling on teh stoopid as a way of stretching the GWB joke, I apologize for missing it.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Riley, here on the East Coast, in the midst of urbanopolis sin and cynicism, we tend to sneer at the folkways of those in the heartland. Nevertheless, my jaded pornographic sensibility requires me to ask, how DO you intend to check David Brooks' emissions?

Anonymous said...


I was counting 1, as I learned in my youth. But now when I check that newfangled wikipedia thing, it tells me that 1 was considered a prime "until the 19th century." I guess I have some catching up to do.

Anonymous said...

Does Brooks think that threats from our enemies can only be mitigated by immediate military aggression? Does Brooks believe that the SALT treaties were negoitiated with our good friend, the Soviet Union? Does Brooks think that, having practiced diplomacy with intractable enemies like China and Vietnam, Henry Kissinger should be hung for treason? Are George W. Bush and David Brooks naïve enough to think that the world really is a Chuck Norris movie? Does the New York Times truly not know that loaded straw man speculations are the cheapest of rhetorical tricks used only by slimy politicians, lazy pundits, and John Podhoretz?

Anonymous said...

I hope that's an extra dollop of sarcasm you spread in that last pahagraph, 'cause ol' Toshiro is offering me the wrong sword for seppuku.

ahab said...

Ahhh, shit. I actually do read you intermittently, Doghouse. But I guess I ought to read a couple of posts in a row before I go commenting, as I did above.

At least I was correct about your position on the Brooks column.

bjkeefe said...


Just how old are you? ;^)