Monday, January 11, 2016


From Politico, I see that David Brooks thinks Ted Cruz's rhetoric is excessively gloomy:
Ted Cruz may have made great inroads with Christian evangelicals, but conservative New York Times columnist David Brooks isn’t buying the candidate’s “dark and satanic tones.”

In an interview this weekend with PBS, Brooks tells host Judy Woodruff that Cruz’s world is “combative,” “angry,” and “apocalyptic.”

... “If you watch a Cruz speech, it’s like, we have got this enemy, we have got that enemy, we’re going to stomp on this person, we’re going to crush that person, we’re going to destroy that person."
Brooks thinks that's a recipe for failure. He thinks Marco Rubio has a much better approach, although he worries that Rubio is mimicking Cruz.
BROOKS: ... it’s dark and combative, and, frankly, harsh. It’s a harsh -- [Cruz] gets some jokes in the beginning, but then it’s just, we have enemies. We’re in an apocalyptic situation. We’re on the edge of the abyss. You need a tough guy to beat that back. And that’s his personality. That’s not Marco Rubio’s personality. He’s a sunny -- he’s been running the youthful optimism campaign, but he’s beginning, to prevent Cruz from getting liftoff, to mimic sort of that, get a piece of that. I personally think it’s a mistake....
We've heard similar things about Donald Trump -- that he has a "dark view of the nation" and all that. Conventional wisdom says that optimists succeed in presidential races. And yet it's Trump and Cruz who are winning on the Republican side.

I've been reading about the 1960s counterculture recently, and today we all woke up to learn that David Bowie is dead. It's all reminding me of growing up in the 1970s, as one of the kids who were effectively the younger siblings of the sixties generation. We picked up sixties politics, but before we could do anything politically, we saw a lot of hope crashing and burning. We came of age in a time of energy crisis and stagflation and Nixon and the botched activism of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army.

Our era was post-Altamont more than it was post-Woodstock. We had the first wave of satanic metal, and we had Bowie invoking suicide, dystopia, apocalypse, fascism, and genocide.

America right now feels a lot more like the seventies than the sixties.

Cruz and Trump are candidates for a country without a lot of hope. I don't know if this means they'll win -- the dark, satanic Richard Nixon won in 1968 and 1972, then we elected a hopeful candidate, Jimmy Carter, in 1976 -- but the two merchants of gloom really seem to reflect the zeitgeist. I wish one of the Democratic contenders had the inclination to address this aspect of the national mood; in that case, I might feel more confident in November's outcome. For now, I think Cruz and Trump have a better sense of how Americans feel right now.


Victor said...


Bowie's dead.

I'm about the same age as you are, Steve, and that's how I remember the 70's too.
And then, to really shit on my age group's head, Reagan was elected, ending all youthful hope of a better country.

"Greed is good," replaced peace and love.


swkellogg said...

While I was never a huge Bowie fan, strangely enough, I was whistling "Life on Mars" on the way into work -- then I find this out. I didn't even know he was ill.


Professor Fate said...

Reading this the lines from All the Young Dudes leaps to mind
"Well my brother's back at home with his Beatles and his Stones
We never got it off on that revolution stuff,
What a drag
too many snags"
Rather summed the feeling up one thinks.

Steve M. said...


Luigi said...

You can look at our country through half full or half empty glasses. You seem to be the age where realizing that the past is gone forever is just starting to sink in.

I see an active, young, diverse and energetic populace that is ready to vote for a Democratic candidate (yeah, I'm an ancient professor). I see old miserable rich people who vote their fears and Republican dying off (just visited my way older brother in Vegas).

I see a country that, in eleven years, went from DOMA to gay marriage enshrined in every state. It took 102 years to allow the last minority to get the right to marry legally. The youngsters text, snapchat, friend, and talk to each other constantly. They are better informed, not swayed by big media, and are way more open minded than we ever were. And they all like Obama. I see good times ahead for those of us who still call themselves liberal.

Yastreblyansky said...

Is that what Bowie was about? Makes me sad that I never quite got him. But I guess I'm from that older-brother Beatles world, so I wouldn't.

Brooks is surely talking about the fantasy Rubio in his head. The real-life Rubio we've been watching since the hasty drink of water in 2013 is as grim and monitory as anybody, trying to look extra serious, with his lips pressed together, and spending all his time prophesying doom, talking as fast as he can as if he fears he hasn't got enough breath to tell you all the terrible things that are happening (really focusing on that because his own policy ideas are so sketchy).

Ten Bears said...

I recall from the time I spent out there in the Army, Bowie was one of those New York, New Jersey, Philly things that never really penetrated the Eugene, San Fransisco scene. Not unheard of, or unappreciated, just not the cultural phenomenon I saw out there in the Ziggy Stardust Diamond Dog days.

I think Bobo is coming to grip with his culpability in the matter at hand.

tanarg said...

It's a dark, satanic country, the United States, one that murders at least 3,000 humans per day without a thought. Boom! If you're unlucky enough to be in the womb of a satanic woman, her satanic helpers will kill you.