January 06, 2004

The Ongoing Flame-Out of David Brooks

Kevin Drum's jaw drops to the floor as he views the ongoing total flame-out of David Brooks:

Calpundit: OK, let's get this out of the way: I was mistaken to ever think that David Brooks was anything other than a hack. I could swear that I've read good stuff by him in the past, but I guess not. I was wrong, wrong, wrong.

His column in the New York Times today is the latest offering in a developing conservative meme: neoconservatives, he says, don't really exist, they don't have any influence if they do exist, and "neocon" is just a codeword for "Jew" in any case. This argument is so deeply dishonest and morally offensive that it's hard to even know where to begin with it.... [W]hy would Brooks write this stuff? And why is the Wurlitzer being cranked up to pretend that "neocons" (complete with scare quotes) are little more than a figment of liberal imaginations? What's the agenda here?

Posted by DeLong at January 6, 2004 02:54 PM | TrackBack

Comments

Jaws agog and eyes agape, or is it the otherway around, I too read that astounding op-ed. If neo-cons don't exist they can't be blamed for their disasters. And, it seems to me, they have much to answer for - but they won't, the C-in-C will not hold them responsible, and the press will, as always give them a pass. res Krugman, "don't cry for me, Ar...."

Posted by: secular clergyman on January 6, 2004 03:48 PM

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Jaws agog and eyes agape, or is it the otherway around, I too read that astounding op-ed. If neo-cons don't exist they can't be blamed for their disasters. And, it seems to me, they have much to answer for - but they won't, the C-in-C will not hold them responsible, and the press will, as always give them a pass. res Krugman, "don't cry for me, Ar...."

Posted by: secular Clergyman on January 6, 2004 03:49 PM

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Jaws agog and eyes agape, or is it the otherway around, I too read that astounding op-ed. If neo-cons don't exist they can't be blamed for their disasters. And, it seems to me, they have much to answer for - but they won't, the C-in-C will not hold them responsible, and the press will, as always give them a pass. res Krugman, "don't cry for me, Ar...."

Posted by: secular Clergyman on January 6, 2004 03:51 PM

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Hufs! David Brooks again!?

BTW, dictionary.com gets you 21 entries for the word "hack".

Posted by: bulent the religious layman on January 6, 2004 04:08 PM

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David Brooks has always seemed like an extremely skillful polemist to me. On the "News Hour" he was good at tacking reasonable centrist when neccesary. The only thing that has changed is that he's lost his touch.

Posted by: Joey Giraud on January 6, 2004 05:37 PM

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Considering that the "neocon = Jew codeword" meme has popped up recently in other places too, I wonder if these people are fed this stuff at cocktail parties.

It also helps Bush pick up dear Jewish votes, since he's liable to lose the 90% of the 40,000 Muslim voters who voted for him in Florida.

Posted by: Lee A. on January 6, 2004 05:54 PM

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The first source I have for "anti-neocon" == anti-semite was a Jonah Goldberg article:
http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/jonah031403.asp

"[W]hy would Brooks write this stuff?"

He seems to be on-message. This on-message stuff is awfully well-coordinated. This doesn't look fractal self-similar like an emergent grass-roots movement, there's leadership somewhere. Which may be why there's so much criticism of the idea. Someone has cranked up the mighty wurlitzer. Question is, who?

Posted by: Randolph Fritz on January 6, 2004 06:33 PM

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Regarding anti-semitism: I recently read an article (attribution lapses momentarily) where the author made the case that the term "neocon" is quite fuzzy and not clearly defined, then went on to "profile" the neocons by significant correlation between being identified as neocon and other things. Being likely Jewish was one of those. Not sure this was an original analysis, or relied on other sources.

Also, entering hair-splitting territory, I don't know whether the author wanted to say that either (a) most of them are Jews, or (b) the percentage of Jews among them is higher than in a general population.

Whatever it is, I heard this "Jewish" thing before. And with attributions like those I'm never quite sure whether it's a statement of fact or an insinuation. The reaction of branding such statements as anti-semitism does not take me with much surprise.

Posted by: cm on January 6, 2004 07:07 PM

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I agree with Fritz. An unhealthy proportion of our media people seem to be in someone's pay. Sounds like slander, but George Will just got caught red-handed and was indignant that anyone thought that there was anything wrong with it. There are a lot of George Wills out there -- theoretically that's a compliment, because he's at the top of his profession, but what I mean is that they're all venal mouthpieces like he is.

Posted by: Zizka on January 6, 2004 09:25 PM

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"..An unhealthy proportion of our media people seem to be in someone's pay..."

In America too!?

Well, OK, D Brooks does deserve attention, because, as it turns out, for example in this instance, somebody might be testing grounds through D Brooks.

Posted by: bulent on January 6, 2004 11:54 PM

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So, Christian Science Monitor a liberal outfit?

http://www.csmonitor.com/specials/neocon/index.html

There is an impressive figure in the section on Paul Wolfowitz: He was in charge of a team 700 strong as Undersecretary of Defense for Policy 1989-93 and I guess he used that manpower to produce with Lewis Libby the 1992 draft Defense Planning Guidance -- which had to be re-written!

And now it just could be that some further re-writing is now appearing in the cards and so somebody is taking preliminary steps for re-positioning to secure the backside.

I'm only speculating, of course.

By the way does any one know how to make your name, e-mail, URL etc automatically appear in their respective fields above the field for typing comments on this page? I also wonder if I should leave it as is(fake e-mail address; I made it up cause it was much easier to type than my real address)-- I notice so many people are using aliases and fake e-mail addressess.

Posted by: bulent on January 7, 2004 03:53 AM

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Of course neo-cons are disproportionately Jewish: every lively group of everything is disproportionately Jewish -- even people surnamed "Lloyd-Jones"). For the record that means me, but, oddly, not the two Reverend Martin Lloyd-Joneses, with whom I am sometimes confused -- both of them outstanding Hebraicists, but both father and son Methodist.

A few years ago I ran across an odd survey: the average of the replies of Americans asked "What percentage of Americans are Jewish?" was about 25%, whereas by any definition whatsoever the actual number is no higher than a tenth of that.

Posted by: David Lloyd-Jones on January 7, 2004 08:54 AM

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Don't miss this gem from "The Daily Howler":

"LETíS PLAY SLIMEBALL! Disagree with Bush? Then youíre anti-semitic! So says David Brooks, in an astonishing column"

http://www.dailyhowler.com/dh010604.shtml

Posted by: Kosh on January 7, 2004 09:02 AM

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"...every lively group of everything is disproportionately Jewish..."

Neo-cons "lively"? Brother! I'm going to be careful with that adjective from now on...

Well, look, I can't accept that. I can't bring myself to use the word "lively" to describe a bunch of people with a strange pscyhology putting forth the proposition that their country ought to be shamelessly trigger happy using its military superiority. "Resourceful", maybe (I saw/read in a movie/book mafia people using that adjective to describe themselves), but "lively", sorry, that's a bit beyond my understanding of the English language, even though English is second lang to me.

Posted by: bulent on January 7, 2004 09:23 AM

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I don't understand what is going on with the David Brooks thing either. I read this article and two other ones. If you only read the excerpts that are usually on the websites you get a distorted picture.

On those three articles (the first two just from my memory) the main ideas I got were

1. It's a good idea for a society to tolerate its eccentrics.

2. A grand plan for Iraq reconstruction may not work, some adjustments may have to be made.

3. This article- a quote- "the proliferation of media outlets and the segmentation of society have meant that it's much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliques." I find that quotation to be very true, and is one of the reasons I find the internet, at least the extreme right and left winger sites, to be very scary places.

It seems that what is happening is that David Brooks develops a worthwhile theme, but then uses some weird examples, examples that are guaranteed to whip up the left winger types, and why he does that I don't know.

Posted by: northernLights on January 7, 2004 10:04 AM

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Well it could be simply because these guys HAVE to write ALL the time, so their excrement-proliferation quotient keeps numerating without denominating, or whatever...

The best face to put on it is that it is DELIBERATELY campaign-orientated. Still, after reading that Brooks column a third time, I am appalled at the amount of misleading and fuzzy statements that masquerade as even-handed. A greater intellectual scandal is that the New York Times prints it! But then, they're printing Safire too. Safire, today: "More than curiosity or altruism or even profit, what drives discovery is the spirit of competition." Only to someone who's fallen from grace, baby. It's no wonder he mistakenly transposed "counsel" and "knowledge"...

Posted by: Lee A. on January 7, 2004 10:39 AM

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"It seems that what is happening is that David Brooks develops a worthwhile theme, but then uses some weird examples, examples that are guaranteed to whip up the left winger types, and why he does that I don't know."

Well, I hope it offends some right winger types too, but that remains to be seen.

While I won't defend Brooks' smear job, it's worth noting that until about the last 3-4 years, it was liberals that did this kind of anti-Semite race card-playing. Decent conservatives were tarred with insinuations of Jew-hating, for the same reason Brooks did: to serve as a rhetorical bludgeon, and bring rational discussions to a screeching halt. Now this slime tactic is being adopted by some on the right. I wonder what changed.

Posted by: Harrow on January 7, 2004 10:56 AM

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"1. It's a good idea for a society to tolerate its eccentrics."

Eccentric? Who? Number two guy in Defense Department?

"2. A grand plan for Iraq reconstruction may not work, some adjustments may have to be made."

I don't know about the other two articles but in the one Brad links to; there is not even one occurence of the word "reconstruction".

"3... much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliques..."

Like neo-cons, you mean?

Your move, Madame.
:)


Posted by: bulent on January 7, 2004 11:15 AM

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"The best face to put on it is that it is DELIBERATELY campaign-orientated".

Actually, that's one of the main things Brooks is being accused of -- being a mouthpiece for an orchestrated RNC campaign. Novak, Safire, and Will have been similiarly accused. They're all big shots and wander off the reservation occasionally, which they essentially have to do to maintain some credibility. (In contrast, for example, to Peggy Noonan). Will even shanked Bush the First, afterwards gloating that Clinton is an Eisenhower Republican anyway.

It's a hard charge to make stick, but you have to believe something like that is happening when you see cheap, highly-partisan stories being relayed by people who should know better. Particularly when timing is critical, for example after the Wellstone memorial (but before the election).

Posted by: Zizka on January 7, 2004 11:51 AM

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