Saturday, December 13, 2003

Explaining David Brooks to East Coaster Insiders

David Brooks tends to switch back and forth between two styles in his New York Times Op Eds, which are often entertaining. On the one hand, he is the Brother from Another Planet -- a Conservative Yankee in King Sulzberger's Court (except instead of Victorian Medievalism in Twain, Brooks hacks away at Upper West Side-DC pink shirted NPR listening stone ground cracker and brie munching liberalism) -- or, as I fondly call him Brooks Brother, explaining those "kooky" ways of the liberal Blue states to the folksy red states. Brooks comes off as a sort of Ambassador at large, telling his countrymen abroad, through the very pages of the cultural establishment, what to make of things like, say, Jamaican nannies who essentially raise ones kids, as often happens on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. Or why Nascar racing and power tools and Evangelical Christian music aren't big in DC, or Hollywood or Silicon Valley or even Wall Street, as they are in, say, Kentucky: the heart land.

Here Brooks can be quite funny about the extreme polarization in the country: we are, essentially, two nations: one Born Again and the other worldly, very metrosexual. One side Sex and the City, the other the Country Music Awards and gun shows: one half red, one half blue.

Okay, that's a gross oversimplification, but it is the jist of Brooks Brother's rhetoric and this is a blog, people, if you want a deep sociological analysis of the country don't look at me to do it here, my little pomegranates!

I actually like Brooks when he brings out those differences -- and Chris Matthews uses him in that capacity -- because I do not think that big city folk or people in that sphere understand Christians, or, rather, conservative evangelical Christianity and what a major force it is in our country. It transforms lives -- like say, the President's -- from alcoholic wastrel to productive citizen. It is amazing and, to be frank, I don't understand it, but I'd like to (ed note: there was absolutely no snark in that last staement: I really would like to understand the social forces at work in the evangelical movement in America).

But Brooks has a serious side as well. And today Brooks tells us that George Bush and his courtiers have "A Fetish of Candor," or, in other words, they like their country music, their cowboy hats and a handshake deal
is as good as gold. These are serious, rugged foolk and they do badly when they have to get on the world stage and get all Machivellian with the heads of state of the chocolate-making countries.

Brooks starts off snarkily enough: "I think we are all disgusted by the way George W. Bush's administration has allowed honesty and candor to seep into the genteel world of international affairs."

Okay, you see where this is going? I can too. It ends thusly:

"Sometimes you've got to be slippery to accomplish real good. The Bush administration is thus facing an insincerity crisis. It has become addicted to candor and forthrightness. It needs an immediate back-stabbing infusion.

"Perhaps Al Gore could be brought in to offer advice."

In other words, those urbane-sophisticated liberals who couldn't melt butter in their mouths because they haven't accepted Jesus and the right to shoot cannot understand candor and it is that candor that forced Donald Rumsfeld to repeatedly rub salt into the wounds of France and Germany calling them Old Europe.

I see: It was a fetish of candor and not the school boy wrestling culture that Rummy was displaying, for all the world to see, when he slowly, creepily, last year morphed from Secretary of Defense into Secretary of State by criticizing Europe to NATO conferences in ... Europe.

Sorry Brooks, this is cookie cutter stuff; I thought Gore sucked hard when he buried the knife into his loyal running mate's back, but to make that a metaphor for all non-Evangelicals is cheesy like Provolone.

The Corsair rates today's Op Ed: C-plus.

Needs improvement.

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