One out of Five Columnists Agrees—He's McDreamy!

|

The New York Times has 10 regular op-ed columnists. Two of the 10 just so happen to be the very same guys who invented the GOP presidential frontrunner's ideology, re-introduced him to the historical fantabulousness of Teddy Roosevelt, recommended senior staffers he maintains to this day, then cheered along his presidential campaign in the pages of the Weekly Standard. Having 20 percent of the op-ed lineup of the country's most influential opinion page under the covers of one candidate's bed sheets makes for an interesting media-ethics exercise (if you can forgive the oxymoron), and has already produced some unintentional comedy, in addition to at least one usefully informed piece.

But today's offering from David Brooks, a defense of John McCain against (accurate) charges that he "is more tainted than his reputation suggests," is just propaganda. Example:

[McCain] has challenged the winds of the money gale. He has sometimes failed and fallen short. And there have always been critics who cherry-pick his compromises, ignore his larger efforts and accuse him of being a hypocrite.

This is, of course, the gospel of the mediocre man: to ridicule somebody who tries something difficult on the grounds that the effort was not a total success. But any decent person who looks at the McCain record sees that while he has certainly faltered at times, he has also battled concentrated power more doggedly than any other legislator. If this is the record of a candidate with lobbyists on his campaign bus, then every candidate should have lobbyists on the bus.

Love that "any decent person" bit. Brooks' evidence of McCain's reformist purity doesn't pass the laugh test.

In 1996, McCain was one of five senators, and the only Republican, to vote against the Telecommunications Act. He did it because he believed the act gave away too much to the telecommunications companies, and protected them from true competition. He noted that AT&T alone gave $780,000 to Republicans and $456,000 to Democrats in the year leading up to the vote.

Wow! And guess which senator during 1995-96 "was the leading Republican recipient of phone industry contributions, with $240,850," including from AT&T?

Brooks continues:

In 2000, McCain ran for president and reiterated his longstanding opposition to ethanol subsidies. Though it crippled his chances in Iowa, he argued that ethanol was a wasteful giveaway. A recent study in the journal Science has shown that when you take all impacts into consideration, ethanol consumption increases greenhouse gas emissions compared with regular gasoline. Unlike, say, Barack Obama, McCain still opposes ethanol subsidies.

Reading that, you'd almost think that McCain believes ethanol is objectionable because it "increases greenhouse gas emissions." Well, he did … until 2006.

McCain may flatter himself into believing he has "battled concentrated power," but somehow he almost always manages to do so in such a way that the federal government ends up (or would end up, if his legislation passed) with more concentrated power, at the expense of the individual citizen. It happened with campaign-finance reform (which Brooks claims "was a direct assault on lobbyist power"), and it would happen in a McCain White House, even if he's good on ethanol subsidies.

In the meantime, we can expect a thick chunk of the New York Times op-ed page to bulldoze over these distinctions with absurdly absolutist statements about the man's nearly infallible virtue. It's gonna be fun.

Advertisement

NEXT: The Ho Chi Minh City Statement

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. So he took money from AT&T, but voted against the Telecom Act which benefited AT&T? Doesn’t this in fact bolster his claims to independent maverickdom? I’m not sure you’ve thought this through…

  2. Word.

    At this point I hope Barack Obama wins the nomination and takes the presidency. On domestic policy, both Republican and Democrats are largely the same. But on foreign policy Obama might just enact some real ‘change’ by adopting a less confrontational posture towards Iran, North Korea, etc. Only problem is he’s a protectionist.

  3. So he took money from AT&T, but voted against the Telecom Act which benefited AT&T? Doesn’t this in fact bolster his claims to independent maverickdom? I’m not sure you’ve thought this through…

    Hear hear. Confused about the intended point. I’m no McCain fan, but I don’t see how this particular piece of evidence indicts him of… whatever it is you’re seeking to indict him of there.

  4. McCain is not that bad….jeez.

  5. Hear hear. Confused about the intended point. I’m no McCain fan, but I don’t see how this particular piece of evidence indicts him of… whatever it is you’re seeking to indict him of there.

    I guess nobody’s ever heard the joke about an honest politician?

  6. Matt Welch bids to take over the Weigel slot as Democratic cheerleader.

    Sheesh. So 20% of the op-ed page like McCain. 80% love Obama. Sounds real slanted to me.

  7. Does anyone know Welch’s feelings on McCain?

  8. Seriously, who should we believe more?

    McCain: Gets money from AT&T, votes against bill that helps AT&T

    Welch: Gets money from a book attacking McCain, attacks McCain

  9. If Matt Welch starts dogging Brooks and Kristol like say, Radley, dogs twitchy SWAT teams, Im going to be reading alot of Hit and Run these next 9 months.

  10. Um, so 20% is now some controlling group? Perhaps Welch could use a little Billy Madison.

  11. This is, of course, the gospel of the mediocre man: to ridicule somebody who tries something difficult on the grounds that the effort was not a total success.

    So…

    Anyone that questions McCain’s lies and deceit is a “mediocre man” I guess.

    Hey Brooksy, come on down to South Florida, and I’ll show you mediocrity! Uh, wait…

  12. David Brooks has a way of sounding like he’s saying something interesting and insightful when in fact, he just spews a lot of nonsense. This guy was the leading press troubador for the Iraq war. Go back and read what he said about it a few years ago.

    When he’s not trying to push young men into going to their early graves (and Brooks never has done anything physically demanding beyond punch the computer keyboard hard) he is throwing out wild hyperbole, or pretending he believes in tolerance and greater understanding between different kinds of people. One example: he has more than once lamented that Americans were too insular, too locked into their own little worlds. His solutions: restore the draft or another form of “national service”. Second, liberals should try to attend a megachurch so they can learn to be more understanding of conservatives. Nothing about how conservatives should try to understand liberals. All the while he’s jerking off about these pipe dreams, he’s constantly making sneering little comments about the liberals inside his head. Hey Brooks, why don’t “you” attend a zen meditation center so “you” can find out about something different outside of your own cloistered little preppy world.

    David Brooks: ugh

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.