FRIDAY, JANUARY 9, 2004
BROOKS BROTHERS: Was it kooky and crazy for people to think that neocons might want to move into Syria? Just this past Wednesday night, Richard Perle appeared on Charlie Rose, and the Prince of Darkness made it sound like Damascus might be advanced on this weekend (text below). But David Brooks took a different view; to Brooks, people who thought that neocons might want to move into Syria were just a bunch of crazy full-mooners. And it got much worse than that. According to Brooks, people who had such crazy ideas were surely just hunting down Jews.
How horrid was Brooks column this Monday? If you want to be fair to Brooksand we recommend fairnesswe suggest that you read his 2/21/03 piece for the on-line Daily Standard. In that post, Brooks worried that anti-Semitism was playing a role in criticism of Bush Iraq policy. Some of his specific complaints that day had the flavor of scenes from Woody Allen films, in which Allen mocks his own hyper-sensitivity with regard to anti-Semitism. But Brooks didnt give the impression in this piece that all critics of Iraq must be anti-Semitic. Alas, such restraint was missing from Mondays column. The whole world was becoming unhinged, he suggested, as he talked about all these articlesarticles which came in wavesin which the full-mooners expressed the view that (among other things) the neocon Project for a New American Century was sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission. In his very next paragraph, Brooks clearly said that Wesley Clark was just a kooky full-mooner too. But then, with all these articles coming in waves, who among Bush critics wasnt?
How inane was Brooks Times column? In the past two days, weve focussed on his dissembling citation of a crackpot, porno web site. But how inane were his overall claims? Most bizarre was an obvious insinuation by Brooksthe suggestion that it was kooky to think that neocons influenced Bush Admin policy. Brooks heaped abuse on the critics:
BROOKS: The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.Pitiful, isnt it? Brooks makes it sound like Bushs critics were weirdly fixated on a meaningless think tank. He fails to note that PNACs original members are now major forces in the Adminmen who clearly did have influence on the Bush Admins policy (see item below). Brooks makes it sound like belief in shadowy neocon influence stamps you as some kind of a nut. But what is shadowy about the influence exerted by a presidents high-ranking officials? Whatever one thinks of Paul Wolfowitz or Dick Cheney, they surely have influenced this presidents policy. What sort of president would pick a vice-president, appoint a Defense Department, then swear to resist all their views?
Readers, whatever one thinks of Wolfowitzs views, he has clearly influenced Bush Admin policy. So the identity of the full-mooner is clearthe full-mooner here is clearly David Brooks. Luckily, people complained about Brooks piece, and the scribe has now issued an artful explanation. (Well offer the full text below.)
What is Brooks explanation? In part, the scribe was just joking in his column, he says, adopting the standard Limbaughian dodge. And, after tortured accounts of what he really was saying, Brooks offers another sweet dodge. I am still on the learning curve here, he says, explaining the incredibly stupid aspects of his column. Still on the learning curve! Did the New York Times know, when they hired this man, that he was just a pup cub reporter? Does the NewsHour know, when they air him each week, how much he still has to learn? Indeed, its amazing how far Brooks has gone in the press corps while learning the basics of his profession! Who knew? Who knew that you shouldnt make sweeping insinuations about the whole world while joking about anti-Semites, Jews and full-mooners? Who knew that you shouldnt drag Wesley Clarks sterling name all through such a pure porno mess?
Was Brooks column just a mistakea stupid failed joke? In fact, many aspects of Brooks column mirror the work of conservative brethren, slimy men who have slimed dissenters over the past several years. In his ugly insinuations about Bushs critics, David Brooks has a long list of brothers. For example, just a few days before the Brooks piece appeared, Jowl Mowbray held forth in the National Reviewand the slimy fellow seemed to be reading from the same joke-book Brooks would employ. Try to believe that he said actually itand that no one in the press, except Josh Marshall, has spoken up in protest:
MOWBRAY: Discussing the Iraq war with the Washington Post last week, former General Anthony Zinni took the path chosen by so many anti-Semites: he blamed it on the Jews.Disgraceful, isnt it? And deeply repellent. Mowbray, of course, is the pimple-faced, sophomoric little fellow the Review has hired because hell recite every script. But its fairly clear that the callow little guy was reading from Joe McCarthys old joke book. And so was Brooks, were sorry to report. General Zinnis an anti-Semite, Mowbray saidbut so is General Clark, Brooks quickly implied (not realizing he was doing so, of course). So do the slimy boys of the contemporary pseudo-right stuff their pockets full of cash, trashing generals who dare to dissent and trashing your discourse as they do so. If readers complain, they just say they were just joking. I am still on the learning curve, one of them says.
Yep! Its hard to know why Gail Collins put Brooks full-moonery into the Times. But wed like to offer one final note on a pattern Brooks piece plainly furthered. Lets go back to an early passage in his Times piece, in which he cited a source that had him bad troubled. Where could anti-Semitic full-mooners be found? Repulsively, Brooks named a source:
BROOKS: Do you ever get the sense the whole world is becoming unhinged from reality? I started feeling that way awhile ago, when I was still working for The Weekly Standard and all these articles began appearing about how Paul Wolfowitz, Richard Perle, Doug Feith, Bill Kristol and a bunch of neoconservatives at the magazine had taken over U.S. foreign policy.As we have seen, that Cheney-organized human hunt came from a crackpot, porno web site. It had nothing to do with attacks on conservatives. In paragraph two, David Brooks named a source. And he lied in your face when he did it.
Just for today, well fail to ask why editor Collins waved such dementia into print. But when David Brooks cited this ludicrous source, he was observing a familiar pattern. Speaking of those human hunts, how far are our pseudo-con killers willing to search to offer examples of crackpot Bush-hatred? Lets recall a few slick examples over their past lovely year.
How far will Brooks brothers hunt for Bush-haters? Back in June, Byron York went deep in the woods. Eager to savage those troubling Bush-haters, he pretended that a crackpot book (a book youve never heard mentioned, before or since) was actually outselling Ivins and Franken! This gave York (and Rich Lowry) a chance to vent about all the Bush-hatred. The crackpot Bush-haters were all around us, they said. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 8/22/03.
How far will the pseudo-con human hunt go? Shortly after September 11, Michelle Malkin was so eager to savage the (non-existent) America-hating left that she was willing to beat on a high school kid for something he said in a local newspaper! Unable to find real America-haters, Malkin conducted a human hunt. When she finally found her prey, it turned out he was cutting gym class. How far will they go to track their prey? See THE DAILY HOWLER, 9/25/01.
Just last month, moveon.org conducted a contest to make 30-second anti-Bush ads. Anyone in the country could enter. Two entries (out of 1500) went absurdly over the top. At the RNC, Ed Gillespie began to boo-hoo-hoo, deeply troubled by the entries. Who sent in the entries? Some meaningless schlub! Wolf Blitzer now flogs them on television.
And now, David Brooks takes the next step. He wanted to say that Bushs critics surely must be anti-Semites. So he took himself to a crackpot web site and pretended that it was attacking conservatives. For reasons only she can comprehend, Gail Collins put his porn into print.
Yes, the Brookses, the Mowbrays, the Malkins and Yorks will go far afield on their own human hunts. Theyre very eager to fool the rubes, and theyre willing to make a total joke of your discourse. They want to make the public think that critics of Bush are deranged and disturbed. Who are the real America-haters? Theyll call men like Zinni and Clark evil names; theyll even beat up on high school sophomores. Gail Collins? Shell put their porn into print. When complaints come, they say they were joking.
DAVID BROOKS CAN EXPLAIN THE WHOLE THING: Daniel Okrent, the crusading public editor, seems to be spending his time this week mailing out lame excuses by Brooks. Here is Brooks full statement about his column. Brooks addressed his remarks to Okrent:
BROOKS: For what its [sic] worth, that neo being short for Jewish was meant as a joke. Nothing more. Most of the people who get labeled as Neocons are Jewish, so I was just sort of playing off that.Leave aside the dodge about jokingand leave aside the learning curve nonsense. Having left those points to the side, Brooks substantive claims are simply absurd. I was careful not to say that Bush or neocon critics are anti-Semitic? And: I was careful not to say that all conspiracy theorists are anti-Semitic? These claims by Brooks are simply absurdunless Brooks is just being Clintonesque.
Was David Brooks careful not to say that Bush or neocon critics are anti-Semitic? David Brooks was careful, all right. You can see how careful he was in the passage which slimed Wesley Clark:
BROOKS: The full-mooners fixated on a think tank called the Project for the New American Century, which has a staff of five and issues memos on foreign policy. To hear these people describe it, PNAC is sort of a Yiddish Trilateral Commission, the nexus of the sprawling neocon tentacles.Brooks was very careful, all right. He was careful to name Clarks name right after the Yiddish jibe, and right before saying that neocon means Jews. And he was careful to link Clarks name with his stupid remarks about that shadowy influence.
I was careful not to say that Bush or neocon critics are anti-Semitic? Incredible, isnt it? Brooks whole column implied just the opposite! Nor did Brooks explicitly say that only a subset of the people who talk about the shadow conspiracy find Jewishness a handy explanation for everything. That statement by Brooks is baldly inaccurate. Heres what he actually said, two-thirds of the way through his column:
BROOKS: [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.What did David Brooks actually say? He actually said that anti-Semites are a subset of conspiracy theorists, not that theyre a (possibly small) subset of neocon critics. And he said this fairly late in his columnafter implying, again and again, the critics of the neoconservatives were driven by hatred of Jews.
Brooks e-mail to Okrent is another bad joke. But Okrent was eager to mail it on out. Sadly, people like Collins and Okrent dont really care. Guess what, readers? They respond to one thingloudmouth power.
PERLE BEFORE ROSE: According to Brooks, it was silly to think that neocons might possibly want to finish off Iraq and move into Syria. Why, you had to be a full-mooner to think it! Or, of course, you were just a Jew-hater. But heres part of what Richard Perle told Charlie Rose just this past Wednesday night:
ROSE (1/7/04): I dont see any evidence that Bashar Assad is quivering in his boots worrying that after Baghdad, Damascus is next.Gee! Why would anyone think that Perle might want to move into Syria? There is a whole range of options, he said moments later, and one of them is changing that regime.
Readers, you might approve of Perles views, or you might think theyre lacking. But many neocons did seem to be thinking about moving past Iraq into Syria. It didnt take a full-mooner to think itnor did you have to be anti-Semitic. Theres only one full-mooner here: David Brooks. Why in the world would someone like Collins put his ugly cant into print?
THE LITTLE THINK-TANK THAT COULD: How big a full-mooner is David Brooks? Remember that little think-tank, PNACthe tiny little, meaningless think-tank that the full-mooners were fixating on? Absent-mindedly, Brooks forgot to say who belonged to that think-tank. But heres a brief note from Brooks paper about a letter the little think-tank once sent:
NEW YORK TIMES (12/3/01): Following are excerpts from a 1998 letter to President Bill Clinton from the Project for the New American Century urging the removal of President Saddam Hussein from power in Iraq. Among the signers were Donald H. Rumsfeld, Paul D. Wolfowitz and R. James Woolsey.Thats how the item appeared in the paper. The editing is the NYTs, not ours.
PNACs advice might have been good, or it might have been bad. But why did people fixate on that little think-tank? Duh! Because people like Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz were its members! Do you really think its strange to believe that Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz influenced policy? David Brooks wants you thinking its strange; indeed, he wants you to think the idea is so strange that you have to be anti-Semitic to believe it. Why on earthwhy, tell us whydid Gail Collin put such garbage into print?