David Brooks, a clumsy amateur sociologist who has improbably turned a talent for adjusting his glasses in a wise-looking manner into a gig as a nationally respected opinion columnist, is a busy man. He's teaching a class at Yale, okay? He can't be expected to come up with his own ideas every single week. Today, he hit on a novel solution to his quandary: just have one of his students write his column! You can hardly tell the difference.
New York Times columnist and culture scholar David Brooks had some thoughts this week about the difference between hardworking Chinese students and lazy American students. The Chinese, he wrote, see education as a moral enterprise, built around the cultivation of discipline and other internal virtues, while Westerners focus on learning about things and are hung up on "critical inquiry" and "sharing ideas."
A couple of times a week I walk by the Yale Drama School. It's a strange experience because my dream through college was to go there and become a playwright, a cross between Clifford Odets and George S. Kaufman. When the socialist revolution came I wanted to be the one writing snappy one-liners to support it. Then I gave up that dream and decided to become Herbert Croly, the early New Republic editor, or John Reed, the radical who went to Harvard and then had a love affair with Diane Keaton (at least in "Reds").
What's the worst thing about chief New York Times pop sociologist David Brooks' new column, which is titled "The D.C. Dubstep" in a vague approximation of cleverness? Is it the insipid central metaphor, by which Brooks has each party doing "dance moves" in advance of the coming sequester and its accompanying deep budget cuts? Is it the names of those dance moves, names so embarrassing my hands are actively attempting to prevent me from typing them out? (For the record: the Democrats are doing the "P.C. Shimmy"—P.C. as in "permanent campaign"—the Republicans, the "Suicide Stage Dive.") Is it his misguided, near-religious belief that Both Parties Are At Fault? Or is it this sentence: "The president hasn't actually come up with a proposal to avert sequestration, let alone one that is politically plausible." David. He has. It's right here. It's a banger, I promise. [NYT]
David Brooks, author, essayist, columnist for The New York Times, guy who has thoughts, is teaching a class at Yale this semester. Here is the syllabus; authors listed include Edmund Burke, Reinhold Niehbuhr, Isaiah Berlin, and David Brooks. "We will ask," Brooks writes, "whether it is proper to put a Yale window sticker on the back of your car."
Politics, like sports, is a subject whose barrier to entry is nonexistent. That is to say, it takes virtually no knowledge of any sort in order to have an opinion on the topic. That is why politics, like sports, is such a popular thing to talk about. It is also why the vast majority of the political talk by professional political talkers is worthless.
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.
This week has been tough on obviousness. There are the subtle implications of the Supreme Court's Arizona rulings and the murmurs of its coming Affordable Care Act rulings. Both make Mitt Romney and the Romney campaign mention words until reporters disperse in frustration. "WE SAID WORDS THAT ARE SYNONYMS WITH POLITICS. PLEASE GO AWAY."
Wealthy, influential, and widely read pundit, author, and pop- sociology-flouter David Brooks today uses his New York Times op-ed column to announce to you, me, and everyone else around the world: he still likes the Mets. Yeah. Thought about liking the Nats, but... had to stick with the old Mets. Mmm hmm. But did he find a way to work in some pop sociology?
New York Times opinion-haver David Brooks is not a "journalist," per se; he's more of an "amiable prick." Still, he is employed by a newspaper, and he writes about news. One would think he might be, at least, in favor of, you know, journalism, or at least the spreading of facts, in the public interest. Not so!
It did not seem possible that Newt Gingrich, star of the biggest political flameout of the 1990s, would find himself weeks away from the 2012 Republican presidential nominating contests and leading by double-digits in both national polls and three of the four early primary states. But thank Allah he is! Go Newt! This is the best thing that's ever happened. Now let's watch some elite conservatives pundits squirm.
Conservative columnist David Brooks, the New York Times' chief over-the-counter muscle relaxant and civility enforcer, is finally getting upset with his political party as it prepares to plunge the nation into debt default for no real reason. Are you sure you want to do this, David? It's only a "D" credit rating that's looming on the horizon, after all.