Friday, March 14, 2008


In today's New York Times, David Brooks endeavors to explain the difficulties many high-achieving men have with intimate relationships. He argues that if you "grow up in homes with an intense success ethos and get fed into the Achievatron, the complex social machine that takes young children and molds them into Ivy League valedictorians," you're likely to emerge with the ability to claw your way to the top but not to have real friends or experience real love.

He's writing about Eliot Spitzer, of course, though he never mentions Spitzer's name. I think he's also trying to get you to think about Bill Clinton, though that name also doesn't come up (in fact, no names are mentioned).

But if you read through the column a second time and skip the parts about intense academic achievement, another Alpha Dog comes to mind -- an Alpha I imagine Brooks didn't think he was talking about.

Especially here:

And, of course, these people succeed and enjoy their success. When Bigness descends upon them, they dominate every room they enter and graciously share their company with those who are thrilled to meet them. They master the patois of globaloney -- the ability to declaim for portentous minutes about the revolution in world affairs brought about by technological change/environmental degradation/the fundamental decline in moral values.

They treat their conversational partners the way the Nazis treated Poland. They crush initial resistance, and the onslaught of accumulated narcissism is finally too much to bear.

Remind you of anyone? Perhaps a guy who makes sure his speeches and campaign appearances are always before crowds of the worshipful, who identifies himself as a leader in the mold of Churchill fighting the most important global fight of the twenty-first century, who goes on and on and on about how freedom is God's gift to everyone in the world and he himself is God's designated bringer of that freedom?

Or how about this?

I don't know if you've seen a successful politician or business tycoon get drunk and make a pass at a woman. It's like watching a St. Bernard try to French kiss. It's all overbearing, slobbering, desperate wanting. There's no self-control, no dignity.

These Type A men are just not equipped to have normal relationships.

... they are completely unprepared. And in the middle of some perfectly enjoyable dinner party, a woman will suddenly find a tongue in her ear.

Angela Merkel, your thoughts?

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