Tuesday, July 26, 2011


Shorter David Brooks in today's New York Times:

"He came in here and he trashed the place, and it's not his place."

Verbatim David Brooks:

...Obama never should have gone in front of the cameras just minutes after the talks faltered Friday evening. His appearance was suffused with that "I'm the only mature person in Washington" condescension that drives everybody else crazy. Obama lectured the leaders of the House and Senate in the sort of patronizing tone that a junior high principal might use with immature delinquents. He talked about unreturned phone calls and being left at the altar, personalizing the issue like a spurned prom date.

Obama's Friday appearance had a gigantic unintended consequence. It brought members of Congress together. They decided to take control. The White House is now on the sidelines. Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders are negotiating directly with one another.

The atmosphere has changed. It now seems more likely that we will get a deal.

... John Boehner and Harry Reid will continue to verbally abuse each other. But there's a script to their taunts. Nobody’s feelings are hurt. The old pros are perfectly capable of exchanging cliched volleys in the morning and then going off and negotiating with each other in the afternoon.

... there has been an outbreak of sanity since Congress took control.

... This should be a humbling moment for the White House, and maybe a learning experience. There are other people who have been around Washington a long time. They know how to play this game.

...The Old Guard wins....

We'll see if the Old Guard really wins -- reports right now say mostly that Our Teabag Overlords in the House are rejecting the new Boehner plan. But even if Boehner and Reid turn out to be no better at being Zealot Whisperers than Obama, I think Brooks has a story and he's sticking to it: after flirting briefly with the notion that this crisis is all the fault of the people who actually seem (to most rational observers) to be causing it, Brooks now believes that even their continued intransigence is all Obama's fault, because he has the gall to try to act as if he's better than others just because he's y'know, the president. And now Brooks will say that any failure by the Old Guard in Congress to put the Suicide Bomber Zealot Caucus in their place won't be the Old Guard's fault -- it'll be the president's fault, too, because he's a Democrat and a parvenu, and how dare he assert himself!


UPDATE: Kevin Drum:

Just yesterday I was telling a friend who likes Brooks that I'm not a Brooks hater. I'm still not. But honest to God, I've never seen a columnist who's so schizophrenic. One day we've failed because Republicans are just shy of insane, the next we've failed because Obama screwed up the negotiating process. It's like some part of him rebels whenever he finally admits to himself what the modern conservative movement has become. I wonder what it will take for him to finally figure it out for good?

Death camps. I think nothing short of death camps set up by the wingnut zealots for their political enemies will penetrate Brooks's thick skull. And even then he might very well find something that inspires him to qualify his criticism.

I'm not being hyperbolic. I'm not sure he'd even blink at mass disenfranchisements, or mere internment camps. I think there'd have to be actual genocide involved before it became irreversibly clear to him that this wasn't just a manageable level of partisan high-spiritedness.

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