TUESDAY, JANUARY 6, 2004
POSTPONEMENT: Because of David Brooks astonishing column, we must postpone our Zell Miller series. Well bring back ZELLS BELLS on the morrow.
ASTOUNDING: How privileged do the powerful few sometimes feel? David Brooks column in todays New York Times provides an astounding example.
For those who may be living on Mars, lets provide some background. Paul Wolfowitza thoroughly intelligent manis deputy secretary of defense under Bush. That makes him very important. And Wolfowitz has long favored military action against Iraq; he urged such action on President Clinton in 1998, for example. In the wake of the September 11 attacks, Wolfowitzs long-held view became official Bush Admin policy. Whatever one thinks of the war in Iraq, it would take a special kind of serf not to notice such bone-simple facts.
But Brooks believes in the privilege of class. In BrooksVille, the president decides and the serfs must sit by, offering no comment or reaction. If they dare discuss Wolfowitz and other Admin figures, that means that they must be brought down. And so Brooks devises a brilliant new ruleif the serfs discuss Wolfowitz, theyre just chasing Jews. In todays column, Brooks crafts a new law, one thats wickedly great: If you dont agree with President Bush, that means that youre anti-semitic.
Like other men of his low, scummy class, Brooks names only one nameWesley Clark!but slimes all others by his sweeping accusations. For example, who were the people who said that the Project for the New American Centurya neoconservative think tank to which Wolfowitz belongedwas sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles? The slimy Brooks is too slick to tell us; he just reports that the full-mooners say this. Instead of naming actual names, he complains about things he read on (unnamed) web sites and about lurid stories in the Asian press. But his suggestion that critics are anti-semitic is found all through his astonishing column. Brooks believes in the privilege of class. Does President Bush have an adviser whos Jewish? If so, serfs must never discuss him.
How bizarre is the world of Brooks privileged class? Try to believe that he wrote the following sentence. And try to believe that the Times chose to print it:
BROOKS: In truth, the people labeled neocons (con is short for conservative and neo is short for Jewish) travel in widely different circles and dont actually have much contact with one another.Amazing, isnt it? As everyone except editor Gail Collins must know, the term neoconservative has been in use for many years, widely used by neoconservatives themselves. No, neoconservative doesnt mean Jewish. But Brooks believes in the privilege of class. In BrooksVille, George Bush is your king; you are a serf; and you arent allowed to discuss your kings actions. If you break these rules, you must be brought down. For Brooks, slimy accusation is the weapon of choice.
Has American discourse ever been quite so strange? Have major papers ever published such cant? Brooks class has always existed, but now a class of Collinses whimpers and hides, too afraid to exercise judgment. If you disagree with Bush, then youre anti-semitic. As you read todays column, think of two groupsthe privileged class of a man like Brooks, and the cowardly class of Gail Collins.
LETS BE SPECIFIC: Lets be clear about what Brooks alleges. According to Brooks, he began to get the sense the whole world [wa]s becoming unhinged when all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of neoconservatives at the [Weekly Standard] had taken over U.S. foreign policy. As he continues, Brooks describes these article more clearly. According to Brooks, [t]he full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles. Indeed, how corrupt are these peoplethe ones who wrote all these articles? As weve seen, when they say the word neo, they really mean Jewish. And make no mistake, these people are many in number. [T]here are apparently millions of people who cling to the notion that the world is controlled by well-organized and malevolent forces. And for a subset of these people, Jews are a handy explanation for everything, Brooks handily explains.
But who exactly are these peoplethe ones who actually wrote all these articles? Brooks doesnt name a single writer! Beyond that, he doesnt name a single newspaper; he doesnt name a single web site! Indeed, what is truly amazing in todays piece is the way Brooks engages in the very conduct he condemns. Shedding wet tears, Brooks laments the work of those evil Bush critics:
BROOKS: The proliferation of media outlets and the segmentation of society have meant that its much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliquesBut this, of course, is what Brooks has done! In sweeping and ugly accusations, he suggests that all Bushs foes are anti-semiticalthough he doesnt deign to name one name or give one specific example. In passing, Wes Clark gets slimed by name, but all Bush foes get slimed by implication. As it was written: If you can give your foes a collective name, you can rob them of their individual humanity. You can say anything about them, it seemsand Gail Collins will put it in print.
Brooks downward spiral in the past few years has truly been a thing to see. But this nastyand deeply stupidcolumn helps us see, not just Brooks decline, but the soul of prehistoric man. Remember: the Enlightenment happened an instant ago. Brooks reverts to a hard-wired part of the brainto an antique world of kingly privilege. If you disagree with Brooks king, then youa serfmust be suppressed. A millenium ago, the Brookses yelled witch. Today he yells anti-semitic.
BABBLING BROOKS: Its almost impossible to comprehend the inanity of Brooks presentation. Early on, the privileged princeling boo-hoo-hoos, recalling the wacky things people said in the wake of September 11. Indeed, the whole world [wa]s becoming unhinged. Brooksie starts offering examples:
BROOKS: Theories about the tightly knit neocon cabal came in waves. One day you read that neocons were pushing plans to finish off Iraq and move into Syria. Web sites appeared detailing neocon conspiracies; my favorite described a neocon outing organized by Dick Cheney to hunt for humans.Ah yes, those ever-useful web sites, where examples of anything you want can be found! (In the crackpot world of David Brooks, one unnamed web site becomes the whole world.) But was there anything odd about the idea that a war in Iraq might move into Syria? In fact, such speculation was rampant after September 11, widely pushed by those who promoted such action. On October 4, 2001, for example, Bill OReilly hosted Senator John Edwards:
OREILLY: You know, were all together now on the Taliban except for Phil Donahue and a few people who are on the fringe, but 90 percent of Americans are with the president. But then, when this war widens, and it willOthers who know this issue better will produce other examples. But there was nothing strange in the idea that plans existed to move past Iraqalthough Brooks will complain that, in quoting Bill, were displaying our anti-Catholicism.
OOPS! HE DID IT AGAIN: There the fake, phony man goes again. Try to believe that he typed it:
BROOKS: The proliferation of media outlets and the segmentation of society have meant that its much easier for people to hive themselves off into like-minded cliques. Some people live in towns where nobody likes President Bush. Others listen to radio networks where nobody likes Bill Clinton.As he did on September 30 (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 10/1/03), Brooks pretends to be concerned about dark accusations of the left and the right. But did David Brooks so much as say Boo when the Vince Foster charges were being made? Of course not! The timid princeling sat on his throne while nasty charges really were being offered. (And no, the Foster charges werent made on web sites. They were made by potentates of Brooks own class.) Now, Brooks pretends that he cared all along. Gail Collinswhat a weaklingpermits it.
THE MASTERS OUEVRE: How concerned was Brooks about that Vince Foster crap? In February 1999, he wrote a Newsweek column; in it, he suggested ways that Republicans could move back toward the middle once the Clinton impeachment was over. Here was one possibility:
BROOKS: Pull a Sister Souljah. In 1992 Clinton attacked the rap artist Sister Souljah to prove he was no captive of the cultural left. Republican leaders may try to find some figure to demonize to prove they arent captives of the cultural right. This does not mean going after the pro-life movement, as some of the big GOP donors would like. That would be political suicide. Instead it means maybe singling out one of the conspiracy types who accuse Bill Clinton of murdering Vince Foster. Or it might mean picking a fight with some conservative on tolerance toward homosexuality.As far as we can tell (using Nexis), that was Brooks lifetime discussion of the dark accusations concerning Vince Fosteruntil, of course, his deep concern became so apparent today.