Tuesday, March 23

Piker. Mine Was Day-Glo.

David Brooks, "Blah Blah Healthcare Blah Blah Democrats Blah Blah". March 22

LET'S us just stop pretending. Out of the crucible of The Sixties the Powers of Reaction, the Defenders of Status and Quo, so long as it's Theirs, the Superfriends of Superfund Sites and Paraphilic Infantilists for Christ, aka The Republican Party, developed a line of patter which appeared, on the surface, to work for it. Simply put--which is precisely how it should be put--this involved reducing all complex issues--which had been going badly for them since 1929--to bumper-sticker slogans. I'm thinking that the boys in Advertising decided "Goldwater: In Your Heart, You Know He's Right" had unnecessarily alienated voters who found beginning a sentence with a prepositional phrase to be suspiciously foreign-ish (compare "Who among us does not love NASCAR?"), as well as those who preferred to listen to any of the other viscera. "Heart", in fact, seems to've disappeared completely from the Republican lexicon, save for "If you've got 'em by the balls, their hearts and minds will follow", which was more of a specialist item.

Thereafter Nixon was The One, followed by the Obamadrone meets Nuremburg Rally Four More Years!, which, unless you lived through it, you cannot really appreciate for the resoundingly euphemistic Fuck Everyone Else! it actually was. Reagan had Morning in America, but, really, practically every thing the man said belonged just above an exhaust pipe.

And along the way the rank and file have had any number of successes in expressing one-dimensional thought in one-dimensional language: "Right to Life"; the Peace symbol labelled "Footprint of the American Chicken"; "Nobody Drowned at Watergate"; and "Nigger Go Home" to name just a few. Of course nothing has come close to simply slapping the American flag on any and every issue from Interminable Useless Warfare in Southeast Asia to Environmental Rapine.

Your Patrician Republican has about as much luck with this sort of thing as he has break dancing: George Herbert Walker Morgan Stanley Smith Barney Bush turned the thing over to Peggy Noonan, with the result that his ("Thousand Points of Light", "Kinder, Gentler") sounded like a Catholic schoolgirl trying to finish a concrete poetry assignment while slugging NyQuil. Older readers may recall this nonetheless received a certain amount of artificial admiration. Poor Bob Dole was reduced to repeating his own name over and over, apparently the victim of a missed communication.

And Brooks has I ♥ Burke, and that whole set of mock-sociology suburbanite monikers on which his reputation rests, but you really don't picture him as a bumper-sticker guy, more like a guy with a sackful of pickup lines gleaned from Poly Sci 101. So this is what I found interesting about today's regrettable column ("Passage of the healthcare bill means the destruction of the Noble Reagan Experiment in Freedom to Bankrupt Everyone but the Wealthy, Thereby Returning the Country to the Vision of Alexander Hamilton, as I Ascribe It"):

• He's just as fucking nuts as his partymates who think "Edmund Burke" was that liberal who used to be on with Hannity.

• He views the entire left half of the political spectrum in this country as composed of people who've inhaled too much incense.

• His Red Badge of Pinkitude was a Hubert Humphrey poster on the wall of his Democratic parents' home.

Look, he said it, not me. And he appears to've meant it, despite the fact that, unless you happen to be from Minnesota, or the collector of memorabilia from the 1960 election, a Humphrey poster meant you were backing the pro-war Democrat in 1968. Liberals didn't vote for Humphrey; that's how he managed to lose to Richard Milhous McRatfucker.
Yet I confess, watching all this, I feel again why I’m no longer spiritually attached to the Democratic Party. The essence of America is energy — the vibrancy of the market, the mobility of the people and the disruptive creativity of the entrepreneurs. This vibrancy grew up accidentally, out of a cocktail of religious fervor and material abundance, but it was nurtured by choice. It was nurtured by our founders, who created national capital markets to disrupt the ossifying grip of the agricultural landholders. It was nurtured by 19th-century Republicans who built the railroads and the land-grant colleges to weave free markets across great distances. It was nurtured by Progressives who broke the stultifying grip of the trusts.

I'm glad we got a step or two closer to what kind of Liberal Brooks was before he saw the Light. Maybe now we can concentrate a little more on "What sort of adult writes a paragraph like that?"


Kathy said...

"...the vibrancy of the market, the mobility of the people and the disruptive creativity of the entrepreneurs..."

Is that sickeningly hypocritical, or is he really rubbing it in about how us "mobile people" gave the "Vibrant Market and its Disruptive Creative Entrepreneurs" TRILLIONS because the effed up? Probably on purpose, who knows?

loretta said...

What selective memory Brooks has - who really built the railroads? Underpaid immigrants, working class stiffs who were neglected and abused before the labor movement. The same philosophy that allowed the robber barons of the Gilded Age to amass riches on the backs of exploited workers is now seen to be virtuous? Really?

Who has an ossifying grip, now? And last I checked, land-grant colleges were run by the government, as are public universities and community colleges. And what person who wasn't entirely insane would promote this revisionist philosophy today?

Uncle Omar said...

Does McBobo know that land grant colleges pre-date the formation of the Republican Party by a few years? Michigan State and Penn State were both up and running in 1855 as a result of acts pushed through the Congress a couple of years earlier, before the first Republican Party meeting in Jackson, Michigan, in 1854. Or, do facts not matter to him? Sorry, the answer to that is self-evident.

jayinbmore said...

"What sort of adult writes a paragraph like that?"

The kind that thinks Peggy Noonan's prose is merely a shade of pink.

Anonymous said...

"...to disrupt the ossifying grip of the agricultural landholders."

I always thought that The Founders did quite well for the agricultural landowners.


ckc (not kc) said...

...as a Canadian, and if it makes you feel better, just keep telling yourself "he's a fucking Canadian!"

(we really don't mind - he'd get the same reaction up here)

Sator Arepo said...

My reaction was much the same as loretta's, above. Oh, for the return of the strife-free, just age of the Robber Barons! Those halcyon, salad days of Real Owners and Real Labor!

heydave said...

Wait a minute! I work at a land grant university: is my job to fight against grips that are stultifying, ossifying, or both?

Shit, I'm already stretched between dealing with assholes like Brooks and small-pond clones of Wall Street as it is. Now I have to keep better records?

Anonymous said...

Wait, liberals opposed a federal banking system? Bankers were splittin' rails and laying tracks out of the goodness of their hearts? It was conservatives who were doing the trust busting? Jeez, did I sleep through every one of my history classes?

cleter said...

Republicans built the railroads? What? Phineas Bush and Ebeneezer Hoover and Flibbertigibitus Q. Boehner were out there in the hot Utah sun, singing work songs about small government and constitutional originalism, flexing their mighty thews and driving the rail spikes? Wow, you learn something new every day.

R. Porrofatto said...

The paragraph after your selection is also cute:

Today, America’s vigor is challenged on two fronts. First, the country is becoming geriatric. Other nations spend 10 percent or so of their G.D.P. on health care. We spend 17 percent and are predicted to soon spend 20 percent and then 25 percent. This legislation was supposed to end that asphyxiating growth, which will crowd out investments in innovation, education and everything else. It will not.

Yes, "other nations spend 10 percent or so of their G.D.P. on health care" -- good luck trying to find anywhere in this or any other Brooks piece what kind of health care systems those nations have. Here's a hint: that GDP percentage differential isn't due to the vibrancy of free-market entrepreneurialism. And those other nations are becoming as geriatric as we are, you dishonest fucking hack.

If I've mentioned this before here I apologize. But I wonder if Brooks knows that, as recently as the 90's, Standard & Poor's surveys showed that the No. 2 undergraduate school for America's CEO's and top corporate executives was Yale. No. 1 was that tuition-free socialist experiment, City University. Not even his own Grand High Bobos fit his bill.

Augustus Mulliner said...

Remember what Hunter Thompson said about Humphrey? "A treacherous, gutless old ward-heeler who should be put in a goddamn bottle and shipped out with the Japanese Current."
Jesus, he couldn't have had the Farrah poster up on the wall? This explains a lot about Bobo: When a corrupt Big Labor-Corporatocratic-Lobby Money Whore is the avatar for your youthful fling with idealism, you can make the journey over to the Dark Side on one tank, easy.