Your Own Personal Joesus


The New York Times' crack business department, have, of course, hidden it behind a wall that can only be breached by concentrated blasts of $50. But this David Brooks column, as Matt Yglesias and Jonathan Chait excerpt, is a time capsule-ready slice of Beltway myopia. Brooks rejects the primary campaigns of the Club for Growth and Democratic "netroots"—both factions marshalling money and volunteers to reshape their parties to their liking—and claims that most Americans are represented by a non-existent third party. Here's an example.

The McCain-Lieberman Party begins with a rejection of the Sunni-Shiite style of politics itself. It rejects those whose emotional attachment to their party is so all-consuming it becomes a form of tribalism, and who believe the only way to get American voters to respond is through aggression and stridency.

Spot the logical flaw. Dynamiting the two parties and making room for a third (which Brooks half-heartedly predicts) is a sort of aggressive and strident act. The last mainstream politician who broke the two-party system, a hero of the "the two modern parties are so mean and uncool" set, was President Teddy Roosevelt. T.R., remember, founded his own party because he was angry that the Republicans didn't nominate him again. Organizing to change the direction of the party, seat by seat, is a rational tactic that can be employed by party fringe and party mainstream alike. Angry "I'll take my ball and go home!" fantasties can only be employed by politicians with huge egos. I don't see how they're representative of the great silent majority.

Moreover, as Yglesias points out, Brooks' heroes McCain and Lieberman don't represent the mainstream on the most pressing issue of our time. Both men are diehard Iraq war hawks. The mainstream of American opinion—Iraq's a mistake, let's start getting out, let's not bomb Iran—if it's represented by anyone, is represented by Sen. Chuck Hagel (R-NE.). Why don't pundits like Brooks assign Americans membership of the Hegel party (maybe the Hagel-Cantwell party?). Because they like McCain and Lieberman. They don't care that they've been rejected by their party's presidential primary voters. The pundits who keep flogging these two senators and demanding that voters embrace them are like nerds raging against the popular kids winning homecoming court, and voting for the Star Trek fan club president and treasurer in protest.

NEXT: Reaganite Revolt

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  1. The NYT runs a crack business? That explains a lot.

  2. Oh, please. Like either the president or treasurer of the Star Trek fan club would be a girl.

  3. Oh, please. Like either the president or treasurer of the Star Trek fan club would be a girl.

  4. I like your surreptitious inclusion of German High Romantic philosopher G.W.F. Hegel into what was purported to be an analysis of the petty politics of tiny-penised U.S. Senators. (The philosophic interlude is ensconced-for plausible deniability, no doubt-between references to somber Cornhusker state US Senator Chuck Hagel.)

  5. if every voter could use thier vote against a candidate or for a candidate, would we see that the silent majority is in fact voting against issues/people or for issues/people…is the silent majority statists (they vote against something/someone) or activists (they vote for something/someone)?

  6. This Rolling Stone column about sums up the amazing Mr. Brooks.

  7. Dave is exactly right.

    The McCain Liberman party is a lurid David Brooks fantasy. Gone would be the “pop-nat” Buchananites and gone also would be the entire left wing. Managed democracy and elite consensus would rule America as America struggled to rule everywhere else.

  8. Absurdly pompous. “I like Lieberman and so everyone must like him, too, even though he failed to win a majority in his own party in his home state.”

    If a majority of Americans enjoyed his opportunistic statism so much, why couldn’t his presence get Al Gore elected? If people will really come out in droves for McCain, why didn’t they change their registrations so they could march to the polls and bury Bush in the 2000 primaries?

    There’s no big conspiracy here: this thing is only news because the US political system is so freaking sclerotic it takes an unimaginable foreign policy disaster to shake the deathgrip of the incumbents-and then, all too few of them. Lieberman was rejected by the Connecticut Democratic Party as their candidate because he didn’t support the majority’s position on the primary foreign policy issue. This is why they call it “democracy.” The people decide. I’ve had to endure five-plus years of Bush; I think Brooks and his ilk will simply have to choke down six years of Lamont.

  9. Rolling Stone political articles might as well be written by people who frequent Democratic Underground.

  10. “Why don’t pundits like Brooks assign Americans membership of the Hegel party?”

    That’s just a lot of Kant.

  11. I love you not because who you are but the unique feeling with you.

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