Government Spending

Hackwatch: Now That Republicans Don't Run it, David Brooks Discovers the Virtues of Limited Government

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Welcome to the club, Brooksy!

Bedtime for Bobo

[F]iscal restraint is now the animating issue for moderate Americans. To take the looming $9 trillion in debt and balloon it further would be to enrage a giant part of the electorate.

This is a country that has always been suspicious of centralized government. This is a country that has just lived through an economic trauma caused by excessive spending and debt. Most Americans still admire Obama and want him to succeed. But if he doesn't proceed in a manner consistent with the spirit of the nation and the times, voters will find a way to stop him.

The president's challenge now is to halt the slide. That doesn't mean giving up his goals. It means he has to align his proposals to the values of the political center: fiscal responsibility, individual choice and decentralized authority.

That's quite a different tune than Brooks was singing last September, when he was screaming at the "nihilists" who voted against the bailout (for a few days, anyway), saying:

They still think the biggest threat comes from socialism and Walter Mondale liberalism. They seem not to have noticed how global capital flows have transformed our political economy.

We're living in an age when a vast excess of capital sloshes around the world fueling cycles of bubble and bust. When the capital floods into a sector or economy, it washes away sober business practices, and habits of discipline and self-denial. Then the money managers panic and it sloshes out, punishing the just and unjust alike.

What we need in this situation is authority. Not heavy-handed government regulation, but the steady and powerful hand of some public institutions that can guard against the corrupting influences of sloppy money and then prevent destructive contagions when the credit dries up.

Brooks' belated shout-out to "individual choice and decentralized authority" would have certainly been welcome during the two terms of a presidency that largely embraced Brooksian values of spreading democracy at gunpoint and bribing middle class voters with government goodies. Instead, he spent the Bush years fighting the libertarians in his head, and proudly heralding "the death of small-government conservatism" as we know it. Better opportunistic than never, I suppose.

UPDATE: Great new piece in The New Republic on "The Courtship" between David Brooks and Barack Obama. Sample:

"I don't want to sound like I'm bragging," Brooks recently told me, "but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don't know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me."

That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks's mind. "I remember distinctly an image of–we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant," Brooks says, "and I'm thinking, a) he's going to be president and b) he'll be a very good president." In the fall of 2006, two days after Obama's The Audacity of Hope hit bookstores, Brooks published a glowing Times column. The headline was "Run, Barack, Run."

These days, the center-right Brooks frequently seems more sympathetic toward Obama than the liberal Paul Krugman. He has written columns praising Obama's Afghanistan policy, education proposals, and economic team. Even on broad areas of disagreement–deficit spending, the sprawling stimulus bill, health care reform–Brooks tends to treat Obama and his administration with respect. "My overall view," Brooks told me, "is ninety-five percent of the decisions they make are good and intelligent. Whether I agree with them specifically, I think they're very serious and very good at what they do."

NEXT: Health Care Question: Does Preventive Care Mean Big, Big Savings?

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  1. Shut the fuck up and get the fuck out of my tent, David Brooks.

  2. No surprise: the sad truth is that the hypocritical partisan hacks are the rule, not the exception, on both sides of the aisle. It’s all part of the two-party theater with which government distracts us while it steals more of our liberties.

  3. I think the “nihilists” link is pointing to the wrong article.

  4. Caption Contest!

    “We’re not the big spenders you’re looking for.”

    “You have a piece of lint on your crotch, can I just…?”

  5. What a novel idea! Government. . .with limits. Hmmm, has anyone thought of that before? Could. . could we build that into the structure of our government somehow?

    Nah, it’d never work.

  6. Thanks, John-David, fixed.

  7. “Eleanor Clift lets me tune her nipples like a radio.”.

  8. That is funny. Brooks because of where he works can never be in anyway a princpled conservative. If he started saying things like “gee maybe Libertarians have a point” he would immediately be disinvited from all the right parties and lose his slot in the NYT.

  9. That made me laugh while eating anchovies. You are a bad man, SugarFree. 🙂

  10. “Two in the pink and the thumb in the stink.”

  11. My peepee is this big.

  12. “…so you can carry her home like a six-pack.”

  13. Fuck you, Brooksie.

    The most important thing to keep in mind when reading even a single word written by this man about the virtues of small government is that it’s all a lie. Before anything else, it’s a lie.

    We all knew that once the GOP was out of power the human refuse that carried water for them in the marketplace of ideas and found ways to justify GOP statism for eight years would flip a switch and pretend they never said or wrote everything they said or wrote. The most important thing is to refuse to accept their change of heart and spit in their faces, because they’re lying.

    Even if it gives Obama eight years instead of four, none of these sons of bitches can be allowed to “reform”. They must all be denounced as liars and scum until generational change removes them all from public life. If an entirely new group of Republican personalities turns up saying that they believe in small government, I’ll give them a respectful hearing. But as long as it’s the same bunch of assholes that defrauded us last time, fuck them. I’d see the country delivered into the hands of Lenin himfuckingself before I’d give it back to anyone on Brooks’ team.

  14. I would like to give two thumps up to the latest issue of hackwatch though the partisanship in this particular instance is Washington lemming instead of the old Left-Right divide.

    One part of the NewsHour I have learned to avoid over the years is that segment he does with Mark Shields on Fridays where Shields typically spiels off into a Grandpa Simpson talking about tying a potato to his belt worthy rant on how Americans are not sacrificing enough for the war effort by not paying enough in taxes, and Brooks just folds his little hands together and nods along. True the brunt of sacrifice falls on the volunteer forces of the military, but would it kill Brooks to just turn around and point out that to destroy the economy (Shields started pitching this creed a few days after 9-11) for the ‘noble’ purpose of sacrifice would be to cut off your nose to spite your face?

    Just once, man. Give the batty old bastard a real response.

  15. You guys have it wrong. Brooks is just conventional wisdom. They guy never writes anything out of principle or independent thought. People like Brooks write whatever conventional wisdom is and whatever is safe and doesn’t offend their masters.

    This actually is a significant collumn. But it is not significant because Brooks has any idea what he is talking about or anything important to say. It is important because it shows that conventional wisdom among the beltway media is that perhaps the Obamasiah is going too far.

  16. I’ll give them a respectful hearing. But as long as it’s the same bunch of assholes that defrauded us last time, fuck them. I’d see the country delivered into the hands of Lenin himfuckingself before I’d give it back to anyone on Brooks’ team.

    I salute your passion, good sir!

  17. Did Brooks just emerge, stumbling and blinking, from his mom’s terrorist-proof basement?

  18. “I’d see the country delivered into the hands of Lenin himfuckingself before I’d give it back to anyone on Brooks’ team.”

    From the looks of things, that is pretty much what has happened. So what is your bitch?

  19. “I can has cheeseburger?”

  20. Yeah, what a joke. Brooks is one of those moderates who willfully chose to ignore everything about Obama’s real-life history and instead listened to the campaign rhetoric, and he was a big Obama cheerleader in the very early days. Now, he’s shocked and horrified to discover that Obama is really a reckless, huge-government loving, hard left wing socialist. Imagine that!

    David Brooks is to conservatism what Cheez Whiz is to cheese.

  21. We’re living in an age when a vast excess of capital sloshes around the world fueling cycles of bubble and bust.

    The statement demonstrates an utter lack of understanding of all things economic.

    The capital isn’t “sloshing” around; it’s the monetary policy distorting natural market functionality. His statement indicates that he thinks there is no other reason for bubbles other than random chance, rather than idiotic government contrivances and incentives.

  22. “Better opportunistic than never, I suppose.”

    Brooks is just another Spite Right pseudocon whose sole imperative is to “sock it to the Left.” Back when liberals were “Bush bashing,” it was a Spite Right duty to defend Bush, no matter what he actually did.

    Now that it’s a liberal (i.e., a Democrat) who’s increasing government, the Spite Rightists must fight those efforts.

    “Sock it to the Left!”

  23. It is important because it shows that conventional wisdom among the beltway media is that perhaps the Obamasiah is going too far.

    The most positive take. I think, though, that the conventional wisdom is more like “Obama tried to go too far, too fast“. The conventional Beltway types have never had, and never will have, any objection to the growth of government. Their only beef with Obama is that he is botching an opportunity to grow government.

  24. One other thing. PBS and the NYT keep people like Brooks around to discredit Libertarians and Conservatives. If he actually had any principles, they might have to respond to him. As it is, they let him spout off when it is convienent or incredibly obvious. But then use him to smear libertarians and conservatives when it matters by saying “see even a rightwinger like Brooks thinks you are nuts.”

  25. Good point RC. Regardless, conventional wisdom no longer considers BO to be the One.

  26. Grandpa Simpson talking about tying a potato to his belt worthy

    It was an onion, as that was the style at the time. Anywho, I was asking for 5 bees for a quarter….

  27. And it was a yellow onion. They didn’t have white onions, because of the war.

  28. Barry Loberfeld | September 1, 2009, 11:14am | #
    “Better opportunistic than never, I suppose.”

    Brooks is just another Spite Right pseudocon whose sole imperative is to “sock it to the Left.” Back when liberals were “Bush bashing,” it was a Spite Right duty to defend Bush, no matter what he actually did.

    Now that it’s a liberal (i.e., a Democrat) who’s increasing government, the Spite Rightists must fight those efforts.

    “Sock it to the Left!”

    Let me see if I can draw an adequate enough picture here to underline how utterly clueless those remarks are. Recall the first time Family Guy used the Kool-Aid Punch Bowel, punching through the wall of a courtroom where Peter was on trial. Recall what happened just before that, Louis just revealed Mort was Megs real father. Everyone in the courtroom looks at Meg, but she is just jamming away, finger dancing, and listening to her CD player. That’s Barry, Oh Yeahhh!!!!!

  29. FWIW, like that one episode of Space Ghost where Brak pops out a pterodactyl egg and Dino steals it so Fred can have eggs for breakfast, I’m tying all or my post today to cartoons. It is a form of protest over Walt Blandsey buying up Marvel.

  30. used the Kool-Aid Punch Bowel

    Lil’ Abner: ‘Fuck. I’m from the South. There is an extra vowel in there.’

  31. Kool-Aid Punch Bowel

    Sounds uncomfortable.

  32. Kool-Aid Punch Bowel

    I had that once. Bad Thai food. Spent three days in the hospital.

  33. “I’m crushing your head.”

  34. Kool-Aid Punch Bowel

    Sounds uncomfortable.

    No more so than your standard Hawaiian Scrunch or Flav-o-ice Hat Trick.

  35. Kool-Aid Punch Bowel

    Sounds uncomfortable.

    Kool-Aid punch sounds uncomfortable? It would be as easy as Hank Hill stepping inside from the alley after a few beers to relieve himself.

  36. Ow, my groin!

  37. If an entirely new group of Republican personalities turns up saying that they believe in small government, I’ll give them a respectful hearing.

    Someone should start a political party endorsing that principle.

  38. CC:

    “At first I said, ‘Slow down Barry, just this much.’ Then I started getting into it.”

  39. Is it just me, or does that look like a stunt hand? It seems disembodied, and I don’t see a jacket sleeve on it. Maybe it was shopped in afterward.

  40. Now my story begins in Nineteen-dickety-two. We had to say “dickety” because the Kaiser had stolen the wold “twenty”. I chased that rascal to get it back, but gave up after dickety-six miles.

  41. He’s reaching for your wallet.

  42. “I believe what I am saying this much.

  43. ‘…and Michele was there doing gardening in her new shorts, so I just…”

  44. Didn’t David Brooks gush about the crisp crease in Barack Obambi’s pant leg recently?

    That should tell you all you need to know about the intellectual capacity of Brooksie.

  45. A big tip-off to his pathetic nature is the pink shirt.

  46. Didn’t David Brooks gush about the crisp crease in Barack Obambi’s pant leg recently?

    Yeah, and by his own admission he fell in love with Obambi more than three years before the election, and was encouraging him to run for President in the fall of ’06.

    He is pathetic, and is just a pretty typical elite country club Republican who reveres an Ivy League pedigree above all else and desperately wants to be liked by the liberals in the circles he occupies.

  47. Please read update to the post, and click on the New Republic link. Remarkable.

  48. Here’s Brooks barely a year ago on the shiny new future of “Progressive Corporatism” :

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/09/23/opinion/23brooks.html

    So we have arrived at one of those moments. The global financial turmoil has pulled nearly everybody out of their normal ideological categories. The pressure of reality has compelled new thinking about the relationship between government and the economy. And lo and behold, a new center and a new establishment is emerging.

    The Paulson rescue plan is one chapter. But there will be others. Over the next few years, the U.S. will have to climb out from under mountainous piles of debt. Many predict a long, gray recession. The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders. Nor will it turn to left-wing populists. It will turn to the safe heads from the investment banks. For Republicans, people like Paulson. For Democrats, the guiding lights will be those establishment figures who advised Barack Obama last week – including Volcker, Robert Rubin and Warren Buffett.

    These time-tested advisers, or more precisely, their acolytes, are going to make the health and survival of the financial markets their first order of business, because without that stability, the entire economy will be in danger. Beyond that, they will embrace a certain sort of governing approach.

    The government will be much more active in economic management (pleasing a certain sort of establishment Democrat). Government activism will provide support to corporations, banks and business and will be used to shore up the stable conditions they need to thrive (pleasing a certain sort of establishment Republican). Tax revenues from business activities will pay for progressive but business-friendly causes – investments in green technology, health care reform, infrastructure spending, education reform and scientific research.

    If you wanted to devise a name for this approach, you might pick the phrase economist Arnold Kling has used: Progressive Corporatism. We’re not entering a phase in which government stands back and lets the chips fall. We’re not entering an era when the government pounds the powerful on behalf of the people. We’re entering an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable – and often oligarchic – framework for capitalist endeavor.

    I wouldn’t exactly call him “opportunistic”. More like “easily excited”.

  49. If you wanted to devise a name for this approach, you might pick the phrase economist Arnold Kling has used: Progressive Corporatism Fascism.

    To seal the deal:

    We’re entering an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable – and often oligarchic – framework for capitalist endeavor.

  50. Please read update to the post, and click on the New Republic link. Remarkable.

    Indeed. I love the fact that Rahm Emanuel takes time out of his incredibly busy schedule as the Chief of Staff to personally call Brooksie every time he writes something they don’t like.


  51. Now That Republicans Don’t Run it (government), David Brooks Discovers the Virtues of Limited Government

    Exactly!!!

    They shoved IRAQ, Patriot Act, paying for faith based initiatives, paying for Israel, etc.etc.etc. down our throats.

  52. “we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant”

    WTF

  53. Didn’t David Brooks gush about the crisp crease in Barack Obambi’s pant leg recently?

    log cabin RINO?

  54. “Lil’ Abner: ‘Fuck. I’m from the South. There is an extra vowel in there.'”

    I once worked in Atlanta with a Atlanta native for whom “lid” was a three syllable word. True story.

  55. If you wanted to devise a name for this approach, you might pick the phrase economist Arnold Kling has used: Progressive Corporatism. We’re not entering a phase in which government stands back and lets the chips fall. We’re not entering an era when the government pounds the powerful on behalf of the people. We’re entering an era of the educated establishment, in which government acts to create a stable – and often oligarchic – framework for capitalist endeavor.

    When I was thirteen, I had a poster of Joan Collins on my wall David Brooks had one of Robert McNamara.

  56. Umm, progressive corporatism = fascism, if words mean anything. (I haven’t read the column where Arnold Kling used the phrase.)

  57. “That is funny. Brooks because of where he works can never be in anyway a princpled conservative. If he started saying things like “gee maybe Libertarians have a point” he would immediately be disinvited from all the right parties and lose his slot in the NYT.”

    Just like the Southern Poverty Law Center has it’s business model niche feeding the alarmist fantasy of the left about “miltias” and “radical rightists” groups, Brooks has found his own market niche as a person the left likes to portray as “conservative” in order to help them bash and undermine real conservatives. In this regard he is exactly like Kevin Phillips.


  58. David Brooks is to conservatism what Cheez Whiz is to cheese.

    Yo! Fuck You Mike M!

    I’m made out of CHEESE.Brooks is no kind of conservative.

  59. I think my favorite quote from that Brooks pice is this:
    The country will not turn to free-market supply-siders. Nor will it turn to left-wing populists. It will turn to the safe heads from the investment banks.

    WTF?

  60. I once worked in Atlanta with a Atlanta native for whom “lid” was a three syllable word. True story.

    Atlanta, huh? Let me guess. It sounded like, ‘please, put the lee-(followed by an Arabic like soft ‘h’ almost its own vowel sound, and ending)–ud back on.’

    If you said Charleston, I would have went with, ‘leee-uD-ah’.

  61. Brooks, you are completely devoid of any principle. Please do us all a favor and retire.

  62. I’m actually surprised that the New York Times has not collapsed in a singularity of suckitude, the moment David Brooks and Paul Krugman found themselves in the same room together.

  63. Fluffy, I wish you were MY cat…sigh.

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