THE PECULIAR WORLDVIEW OF THE PUNDIT CULT
Today, David Brooks tries to tell us what Republican voters (and voters in general) really want, but what he really winds up telling us is what centrist and right-centrist pundits -- at least the ones in his peculiar but disturbingly large cult -- really want.
Brooks is writing about Mitt Romney here:
Republicans ... believe that the next president is going to have to make some brutally difficult decisions in order to reduce the debt. This is not a task for someone who is perpetually adjusting to market signals.
Here's the thing: Republican voters don't "believe that the next president is going to have to make some brutally difficult decisions in order to reduce the debt." Independents and Democrats don't believe this either.
It's not just the fact that most voters care more about jobs than they do about the debt. It's that even when voters focus on the debt, which many of them do, they don't believe these are particularly difficult decisions. I cite this poll all the time, but here I go again: according to Gallup, Americans believe that 51 cents of every dollar sent to Washington in taxes is wasted. Since 1979, that number has never gone lower than 38 cents.
That's because we're constantly hearing, from both parties, that the government is a sinkhole of waste. That leads voters to the conclusion that government is bad, which plays into the right's hands -- but it also means that when voters do talk about cutting spending and reducing debt, they're not calling for the infliction of pain.
You know who actually desires the infliction of pain? David Brooks and his pundit cult.
Brooks goes on to write about Romney:
He needs to show that he is willing to pursue at least a few unpopular policies, even policies that are unfashionable in his own party.
No, he doesn't. This is more pundit-cult thinking. It's the same thinking that underlies the pundit hope for a third-party Messiah who'll win the presidency: cultist pundits want all Americans to be forced to eat something on the dinner plate they don't want to eat -- and think Americans want this, too.
Americans -- Republicans excepted -- want compromise. They want give-and-take. But they don't crave a sacrifice of their own positions. And I just don't understand why the pundit cult thinks they do.