David Brooks Is Not CoherentS

Glasses-adjusting New York Times-version-of-a-Republican David Brooks is a highly talented political columnist-craftsman, in the sense that he is able to lay a thin veneer of pop psychology-varnish over even the most cracked glass coffee table of intellectualism* (*David Brooks-style mishmash alert). Today, Brooks puts forth his most breathtaking ideological prescription yet: our leaders should always be doing opposite things at all times.

The very first sentence of Brooks' column is, "Abraham Lincoln said that a house divided against itself cannot stand." This is the type of sentence that generally introduces a bad high school history paper, not an op-ed in the world's most influential newspaper. No matter. Let us set aside issues of style and focus on substance, because we are mature.

This extremely lazy column is nominally about the Olympics, because, hey, easy topic, and how they show... something, about politics, in a way. Because people smile in the opening ceremonies, see, but later they scowl during races, and this is like politics. And this, according to David Brooks, is good (I think???). Specifically: "The world, unfortunately, has too many monomaniacs - people who pick one side of any creative tension and wish the other would just go away."

In this formulation, "monomaniacs"= anyone who holds a belief about any issue. Why can't our political leaders stop being all, "one side is right and the other side is wrong?" Why can't they, instead, do all things at all times—for our future?

Politics has become a contest of monomaniacs. One faction champions austerity while another champions growth. One party becomes the party of economic security and the other becomes the party of creative destruction.

The right course is usually to push hard in both directions, to be a house creatively divided against itself, to thrive amid the contradictions. The Olympics are great, but they are not coherent.

Should we spend more, or spend less? Both! That's coherence.

[NYT. Photo: AP]