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The Value of David Brooks

hilzoy at Obsidian Wings is quickly becoming one of my favorite bloggers. Nonetheless, I can't help but disagree with his valuation of David Brooks; Brooks is always wrong, but always worth reading. Why, one might ask, is it worth reading what is invariably tripe? Because every time he puts his pen to paper he proves the superiority of liberalism.

It is clear - glaringly obvious, even - that Brooks wants to be taken as an intelligent commenter on national affairs. He undertakes the arduous effort of attempting to appear professional and objective, he obviously spends at least a couple of minutes wracking his brain for what he thinks is a clever analogy, he vainly searches for any argument that might justify his visceral conservatism. Yet he fails, time and again, to make anything approaching a convincing argument. It is glorious to read David Brooks, because his pathetic visage is the fate that awaits intelligent people who opt to join the conservative tribe.

Rationality is no longer welcome in the conservative movement. Each and every one of Brooks' failed efforts to make conservativism look superior to liberalism falls flat, because they are necessarily counterfactual. His tools can't perform the task he's set for them.

Reading Brooks, at least I know that I'm in the room with someone who wants to understand what its like to practice a realistic brand of politics. Reading his fellow polemiologists, I get no such satisfaction. Safire, Novak, Will, &c - all capable of pretty words and anachronistic cultural references; none concerned with reality. Brooks can't embrace it, but at least he's concerned about it.


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