Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Fire this guy already

David Brooks has a unique talent for consistently topping himself.  Just when you think he's written the most awful, inconsistent, condescending, irritating, factually brain-dead, lazily composed, predictable column you've ever seen, he goes and churns out something even worse.  Still, today is special.  Today, he's managed to create something that is substantively so absurd, ideologically so putrid, that if there were any justice on Earth, he would be banished from New York to wander the wastes of Connecticut for the rest of his life.  He would remain barred from polite society forever, forced to glean scraps of news about his long-lost friends and acquaintances from nothing but Times wedding announcements and the journalistic efforts of Arianna Huffington. 

Who could possibly deserve this fate, you ask?  Well, the man who wrote this:
When the president said the unemployed couldn’t wait 14 more months for help and we had to do something right away, I believed him. When administration officials called around saying that the possibility of a double-dip recession was horrifyingly real and that it would be irresponsible not to come up with a package that could pass right away, I believed them. I liked Obama’s payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along.
But of course I’m a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill. It recycles ideas that couldn’t get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress. In his remarks Monday the president didn’t try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures. He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.
So, yeah.  Let me see if I can work through the reasoning.
  1. David Brooks thinks the administration is right that unemployment poses a serious threat to the nation. 
  2. David Brooks thinks the administration's plan to help solve the jobs crisis is good. 
  3. David Brooks also recognizes that there are a lot of people in Congress who want to see these plans fail, people who are not amenable to these plans at all. 
  4. And when Congress then blocks the administration's plans, David Brooks blames the administration.
Look at that incredible, pirouetting leap of logic you've taken, David Brooks.

Yes, that is correct: he actually blames the administration for Republican opposition, solely because the administration said things that were then opposed by the people that oppose everything the administration says.

Just so we're clear on this: if Obama makes a proposal, and you support that proposal, and then other people in Congress oppose that proposal, then blame for the proposal failing lies with the people who opposed it.

Oh, but it gets so much worse.
Yes, I’m a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. I always believe that Obama is on the verge of breaking out of the conventional categories and embracing one of the many bipartisan reform packages that are floating around.
David Brooks, for your own edification, someone should strap you into a chair and force you to read the paper you write for. Or for that matter -- force you to read your own weekly column.  You "always believe that Obama is on the verge of embracing the bipartisan reform packages that are floating around?" What about... oh, I don't know... the bipartisan reform package he embraced not two months ago? The reform package you yourself lauded him for embracing? The reform package that was subsequently defeated by the same Republican Party you now refuse to criticize?!
I keep thinking he’s a few weeks away from proposing serious tax reform and entitlement reform. But each time he gets close, he rips the football away.
The only explanations I can conjure up for this level of short-term memory loss involve medical conditions.  An August brain aneurysm, maybe. Or early-onset Alzheimers. Do you even remember, in July, writing the following words:
The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch in order to cut government by a foot, they will say no. If you ask them to raise taxes by an inch to cut government by a yard, they will still say no.
That's about the Republican refusal to compromise, to be clear. Just going by your own words, David Brooks, the only way Obama has "ripped the football away" is if you define "football" to mean "apparent willingness to totally acquiesce to all Republican demands."  It's incomprehensible that anyone could look at the events of the past year and decide that it's Obama who won't strike a bargain.

But hey, whaddya know, you found a way:
[Obama] talks about fundamental tax reform, but I keep forgetting that he has promised never to raise taxes on people in the bottom 98 percent of the income scale. That means when he talks about raising revenue, which he is right to do, he can’t really talk about anything substantive. He can’t tax gasoline. He can’t tax consumption. He can’t do a comprehensive tax reform. He has to restrict his tax policy changes to the top 2 percent, and to get any real revenue he’s got to hit them in every which way.
So if anybody missed it, read that last bit again.

See what he did there?

According to David Brooks, the reason Obama can't strike a bargain with Republicans is because he refuses to raise taxes high enough.

There are historians: people who examine past trends and try to extrapolate patterns.  Imagine someone who does the exact opposite of that: someone who examines past trends and extrapolates things that are completely false.  That's what David Brooks does.  He is literally an ahistorian.

Here is one small smidgen of evidence that our friend at the Times could have considered: follow this link in order to  get to a little thing called the "Taxpayer Protection Pledge."  It was created by Grover Norquist's Americans for Tax Reform.  It reads: "I will oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rates for individuals and/or businesses."  It has been signed by two-hundred and sixteen House Republicans.

That's two votes shy of a voting majority in the House.

But of course, it's Obama's fault we can't raise taxes.  It's because he abandoned centrism, and compromise.


David Brooks, it's technically possible that you're stupid and petty enough to have written this column in good faith.  (I mean, let's be honest here: I'm going to think you're stupid and petty either way.)  But I don't believe you really think this. It's too perfect.  Obama can't strike a deal because he doesn't want to raise taxes high enough?  Obama is the Lucy to the Republicans' Charlie Brown?  It's like you've gone out of your way to say things that the are the inverse of true.  Things that are not only wrong, but remarkably, outstandingly wrong. 

No, there's got to be some other explanation.

So maybe you have an extremely well-developed sense of irony.  Maybe this is all some elaborate charade designed to show how hip and meta and self-aware you are. 

But maybe, you're just ludicrously clinging to whoever you believe is on the upswing in D.C.  You're less concerned with picking the right side than you are with picking winners -- especially if the winner will wine and dine you in the White House one day.  And right now, you don't see any upside in standing behind Obama anymore.  So you criticize him for believing what you claim to believe and leave Republicans unscathed for believing things you claim to oppose.

You're worse than a sellout.  You don't even need to be bought.  When Rick Perry and the Tea Partiers come to D.C., there you'll be, riding in their wake.   I'm sure you're just hoping that they're as willing to forget the things you've written as you've proven to be. 

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