Malacandra.me

Everybody Goes To Brooks


"To hold a pen is to be at war."  -- Voltaire
These days the easiest opinion-having profession in these United States is the job of holding forth about what a lying, racist shit-gibbon Donald John Trump is.   It is, in fact, such an easy beat that the laziest, most trifling pundits in universe -- America's Serious Conservatives -- all wearing the corners off their thesauri finding new adjectives with which to earnestly agree with each other on camera and in print that, yes, Trump sure is a lying shit-gibbon and isn't it weird how their entire Republican Party turned into fascist cartoon characters the minute their back was turned?

It is the perfect gig for the laziest, sloppiest pundits in universe:  they can just rerun the same gaping, indignation over and over again based on a hot take on American politics that is available, for free, on any street corners and around any water cooler in this Land of the Free.

But what happens next at our nation's water coolers and street corners and sweet shoppes and strip clubs is a much harder to write about, which is why almost no one does it at all, and fewer still do it consistently and well.

What happens -- with the best of intentions and with the same "Here, kiddo, maybe this'll make you feel a little better" vibe your uncle used to have when he tucked three bucks in your pocket after your parents had another knock-down-drag-out -- is they press a David Brooks column into your hand.  A Brooks column and a knowing nod because every office park Socrates knows that Mr. David Brooks is a fooking genius and so very humble and his columns go down smooth and reassuring, like little sermons a pastor would give if your pastor was the room temperature tapioca love child of Leo Buscaglia and David Broder.

I mean Lord have mercy, why can't we all agree that every side of every issue is equally rich and valid and invalid and complex --
One of the lessons of a life in journalism is that people are always way more complicated than you think. We talk in shorthand about “Trump voters” or “social justice warriors,” but when you actually meet people they defy categories. Someone might be a Latina lesbian who loves the N.R.A. or a socialist Mormon cowboy from Arizona...
-- and forget "labeling" people and just hug it out, man!
Personalism: The Philosophy We Need

A philosophy to celebrate the infinite worth inherent in every human being.
First, whatever it is that Mr. Brooks has been doing with his life, it has nothing to do with "journalism".

Second, having read and critiqued Mr. Brooks over quite a long stretch of time, I can certify that when it comes to "lessons", Mr. Brooks has learned virtually nothing.  Well, nothing except how to make a grand living by getting the Sulzberger family to pay him a fortune to repeat the same cloying fairy tale over and over again, twice a week, for 15 years.  

At that, Mr. Brooks really is a fooking genius.

And this is why working the Brooks beat will never win friends or influence (many) people.  Because while trashing Trump in the media is now a license to print money (by expropriating the Liberal critique of the Right wholesale while continuing to pretend that Liberals do not exist) by the very people who made Trump possible, talking smack about Mr. Brooks means giving your well-intentioned uncle who just wants all the shouting to stop his three bucks back, looking him square in the eye and telling him that he is wrong.  

As wrong as he can possibly be.  As dangerously wrong as any Trumpkin.  

Telling him that before we can all be free to get nekkid and hot tub together in the warm bath of Mr. Brooks' pontifical argle-bargle --
Personalists believe that people are “open wholes.” They find their perfection in communion with other whole persons. The crucial questions in life are not “what” questions — what do I do? They are “who” questions — who do I follow, who do I serve, who do I love?
-- the lunatics on the Right who are currently, gleefully smashing every notion of comity and good government to bits have got to put the fucking ax down.


But this is not a message that most people are ready to hear, because the ethical and civic obligations that would be laid at their feet once they are forced to face this terrible truth (from Paul Krugman) --
...
On one side, tax cuts for the rich have become the overriding priority for the modern GOP, and Trump is giving them that.

On the other side, the party’s base really does love Trump, not for his policies, but for the performative cruelty he exhibits toward racial minorities and the way he sticks his thumb in the eyes of “elites.” So any Republican politician who takes a stand on behalf of what we used to think were fundamental American values is at high risk of losing his or her next primary. And as far as we can tell, there is not a single elected Republican willing to take that risk.

What all this tells us is that the problem facing America runs much deeper than Trump’s personal awfulness. One of our two major parties appears to be hopelessly, irredeemably corrupt. And unless that party not only loses this year’s election but begins losing on a regular basis, America as we know it is finished.
-- is more than their tender, sheltered sensibilities can stand.

So they flock to the pleasant moral asphyxiation of the High and Holy Church of Both Sides Do It and coo about the sagacity of anyone who will stand in the pulpit and tell them comforting fairy tales while a for-real civil war comes to a boil all around them.






These days, writing about the travesty of the Trump Administration is a layup on an empty basketball court:  such child's play that even the most jejune creative typist on the Right can knock together a book on the subject over a long weekend and redeem it for cash, prizes and media credibility.

On the other hand, standing out on the weedy fringes of respectability and taking up one's pen to take on the high priests of the High and Holy Church of Both Sides Do It is a mug's game because it means taking up arms against a bewitching lie that is beloved by tens of millions of Americans.

A  seductive and profitable lie that props up the entire Beltway media establishment. 

But then again, being a Liberal has always been a job for tilters at windmills grin




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