Just before the 2012 election, David Brooks gave us a column expressing his disappointment in President Obama. Brooks wrote:
Sure, House Republicans have been intransigent, but Obama could have isolated them, building a governing center-left majority....Today Brooks imagines the thoughts of Democratic strategists as they confront the future. Unsurprisingly, he doesn't like what he believes they're thinking. He quotes their supposed thoughts at length:
"... The president should propose no new measures that might unite Republicans, the way health care did in the first term. Instead, he should raise a series of wedge issues meant to divide Southerners from Midwesterners, the Tea Party/Talk Radio base from the less ideological corporate and managerial class.And this differs from trying to isolate intransigent House Republicans -- the very thing Brooks thinks Obama should have done -- how exactly? Why, if I didn't know any better, I'd say this was a plan for, um, building a governing center-left majority, or at least trying to, or at the absolute minimum demonstrating that a governing center-left majority could exist, if the craziest Republicans on the far right weren't so, um, crazy.
"He's already started with a perfectly designed gun control package, inviting a long battle with the N.R.A. over background checks and magazine clips. That will divide the gun lobby from suburbanites. Then he can re-introduce Bush's comprehensive immigration reform. That will divide the anti-immigration groups from the business groups (conventional wisdom underestimates how hard it is going to be for Republicans to back comprehensive reforms).
"Then he could invite a series of confrontations with Republicans over things like the debt ceiling -- make them look like wackos willing to endanger the entire global economy. Along the way, he could highlight women's issues, social mobility issues (student loans, community college funding) and pick fights on compassion issues, (hurricane relief) -- promoting any small, popular spending programs that Republicans will oppose...."
Brooks thinks it's awful that Obama wants to make the most extreme House Republicans "look like wackos." Elsewhere in the column he writes, in the imagined voice of Republican strategists:
"...The president ran in 2008 against Washington dysfunction, casting blame on both parties. Over the years, he has migrated to a different narrative: The Republicans are crazy. Washington could be working fine, but the Republicans are crazy...."What a terrible message for Obama to send! And do you know who else has said that Washington could be working fine, but the Republicans are crazy? This hothead:
And my problem with the Republican Party right now ... is that if you offered them 80-20, they say no. If you offered them 90-10, they'd say no. If you offered them 99-1 they'd say no.And this hothead:
... the Republican Party may no longer be a normal party. Over the past few years, it has been infected by a faction that is more of a psychological protest than a practical, governing alternative.Both of those hotheads were Mr. David Brooks, in 2010 and 2011, respectively. But God forbid that the president of the United States treat people who "do not accept the logic of compromise" and "have no sense of moral decency" as if they're unreasonable.
The members of this movement do not accept the logic of compromise, no matter how sweet the terms....
The members of this movement do not accept the legitimacy of scholars and intellectual authorities....
The members of this movement have no sense of moral decency....
The members of this movement have no economic theory worthy of the name....