Tag Archives: David Brooks

David Brooks reaches. And reaches. Also, the Romneys.

Leno was funny again, so let’s start there:

“Mitt Romney, whose father was born in Mexico, is now talking up his Mexican heritage. Not to be outdone today, Newt Gingrich said he once cheated on one of his wives with a woman named Juanita.”                                             – Jay Leno

David Brooks wrote an Onion-worthy column about Mitt Romney the other day (find yer own link!). The case he made – I should say the absurdist case he made  (if I read it right) –  is that Mitt’s a man of character and persistence because his great-grandfather suffered bigotry and ridicule and poverty and had to move a lot and even had to hide two of his wives sometimes when the neighbors got restive. And that makes the descendents strong and forms their character. Unlike any of our ancestors (except for that wives part).

My favorite line:

Romney seems to share his family’s remorseless drive to rise – whether it’s trying to persuade the French to give up wine, or . . .

Seriously? Very Islamic of him.

Agreed, they are a persistent clan. No one could deny that. His own father was a Governor, ran a huge company and ran for President, just like Willard. But Romney the Elder was born in Mexico –  how could he have been considered a candidate? Anyone know?

Not in the headlines

While we’re all weeping in our lattes about how Obama isn’t doing what we want him to do or he’s not doing it fast enough,  David Brooks talks about short term and long term and reminds us of a few things:

“It occurs to me that the Obama administration has done a number of (widely neglected [I think he means underreported]) things that scramble the conventional categories and that are good policy besides. The administration has championed some potentially revolutionary education reforms. It has significantly increased investments in basic research. It has promoted energy innovation and helped entrepreneurs find new battery technologies. It has invested in infrastructure — not only roads and bridges, but also information-age infrastructure like the broadband spectrum.

These accomplishments aren’t big government versus small government; they’re using government to help set a context for private sector risk-taking and community initiative. . . . These long-term problems, Obama could say, won’t be solved either with centralized government or free market laissez-faire. Just as government laid railroads and built land grant colleges in the 19th century to foster deep growth, the government today should be doing the modern equivalents.”

Maybe don’t let the ‘sunshine in’

Today, David Brooks’ column is not particularly memorable, as his often are. He is asking why we no longer trust the ‘elites’ in our culture. It’s a good question. And he offers a few good reasons (although the column overall is pretty thin).

I was surprised to see him address something I’ve thought for some time. Whenver I’ve tried to articulate it in front of others, I’m nearly shunned. Here’s what he says:

Fifth, society is too transparent. Since Watergate, we have tried to make government as open as possible. But as William Galston of the Brookings Institution jokes, government should sometimes be shrouded for the same reason that middle-aged people should be clothed. This isn’t Galston’s point, but I’d observe that the more government has become transparent, the less people are inclined to trust it.

I would add I think transparency is a disincentive to problem solving. Posturing becomes more important than exploring real solutions.

Here where I live, an out of town partisan brought a lawsuit against the City Council for breaking Florida’s ‘sunshine laws’. They apparently had emailed each other from personal computers and personal email addresses, the very act of which broke the law. After spending nearly a million dollars to defend the suit, and huge chunks of lost time by City staff, the litigant lost his lawsuit..

And so did the weary embattled City. These laws are overly broad and can impede progress. Brooks is right.

Maybe he haz no cheezeburger?

David Brooks (famously the liberals’ favorite conservative), whom I generally find insightful, actually sucks today. He’s jumping into the swamp that is the conservative horror about the hit film Avatar being anti-American. In so doing, he indulges in more cliches than he accuses the film of employing. (Hey David, remember when WE were  the  ‘White Messiah’ ? Can you say Rudyard Kipling?). Brooks is generally better than this:

“The peace-loving natives — compiled from a mélange of Native American, African, Vietnamese, Iraqi and other cultural fragments . . .” Huh? African? Iraqi??  What is Brooks smoking? Maybe Tibetans? Maybe Pacific islanders? Maybe native Hawaiians? But Iraqis??? Dear god.

“The white guy notices that the peace-loving natives are much cooler than the greedy corporate tools and the bloodthirsty U.S. military types . . .” Do we deny that these types of companies exist? How about Shell Oil? (In 1995, environmentalist Ken Saro-Wiwa was executed by the Nigerian military government, along with eight other Ogoni activists, for protesting against the devastation of the Niger Delta by oil companies, particularly Royal Dutch Shell.”

“When the military-industrial complex comes in to strip mine their homes, they need a White Messiah to lead and inspire the defense.” So those West Virginians fighting the big evil industrial complex strip mining their communities and poisoning their water are what? Who is their white messiah?

“As John Podhoretz wrote in The Weekly Standard, “Cameron has simply used these familiar bromides as shorthand to give his special-effects spectacular some resonance.” Here, I just disagree because Cameron made a story with characters I cared about. For me, that is the test of a good movie. Special effects movies have fail when they lack character development. The new Star Trek was superb. 2012 was awful.