David Brooks

David Brooks Being David Brooks

Detail of frame from FLCL episode 2, 'Firestarter'.

So, right. I mean, sure, it’s David Brooks, and that, you know, generally means something, but still―

The big historical context is this: Something fundamental is shifting in our politics. The insiders can’t see it. Outsiders get thrown up amid the tumult, but they are too marginal, eccentric and inexperienced to lead effectively.David Brooks of The New York Times

Without much enthusiasm, many voters seem to be flocking to tough, no-nonsense women who at least seem sensible: Angela Merkel, Hillary Clinton and, now, the Conservative Party front-runner, Theresa May.

We probably need a political Pope Francis-type figure, who comes up from the bottom and understands life there, but who can still make the case for an open dynamic world, with free-flowing goods, ideas, capital and people. Until that figure emerges, we could be in for a set of serial leadership crises.

―could somebody please be so kind as to tell me what those paragraphs mean?

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Brooks, David. “Choosing Leaders: Clueless or Crazy”. The New York Times. 5 July 2016.

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The Ted Cruz Show (Michelangelo Fist)

Republican presidential candidate Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaks at a rally Sunday, 21 February 2016, in Pahrump, Nevada. (AP Photo/John Locher)

It is, as we have recently observed, easy enough to pick on David Brooks but then along comes Charles Hurt to remind why meandering desperation in lieu of useful analysis is still a better option than attending a hardline conservative posturing as some manner of serious mind. While the New York Times endures Brooks, Mr. Hurt’s résumé is a proper slime trail leading from the New York Post on through Breitbart, Newsmax, FOX News, and the Washington Times; just to make the point he picked up a gig with Drudge. For The Hill, however, Hurt attempts to explain “The problem with Ted Cruz”. It’s a doozy:

While the media attention has focused entirely on the exuberant and entertaining traveling carnival nature of the Trump campaign, this overlooks another, deeper problem conservatives have today: Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas).

Washington Times columnist Charles Hurt appears on FOX News in December, 2015.In the past eight years, no one has captivated the realistic hopes of conservative constitutionalists the way that Cruz has in this election. On every single issue of importance to conservatives, Cruz is right. He is a walking, living, breathing Supreme Court dissent, masterfully articulated and extensively annotated on paper.

Then, he opens his mouth. And people scream. They run for the exits as if their hair is on fire. They want to take a shower.

We might fixate on the phrase, “captivated realistic hopes”, all day, and never figure out what the hell the author intends. The nearest thing to a realistic hope we might project for these “constitutional conservatives” is to somehow elect Ted Cruz, watch him get crushed by Congress and Court alike, and spend the next twenty years like they have the last, complaining about evil gov’ment and the usurpation of democracy just like they’ve been mewling at least since Romer v. Evans.

Still, though, Charles Hurt is a conservative; it is unfair to expect that he should make sense according to reality.

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A Moment with David Brooks (Yes, Really … Well, You Know, Not in Person, or Anything, But … er … ah … Never Mind)

Huang reflects on a mission barely accomplished. (Darker Than Black, ep. 14)

This is nearly astounding. That is, here are three of the most consequential paragraphs David Brooks has ever written:

We’ll probably need a new national story. Up until now, America’s story has been some version of the rags-to-riches story, the lone individual who rises from the bottom through pluck and work. But that story isn’t working for people anymore, especially for people who think the system is rigged.David Brooks of The New York Times

I don’t know what the new national story will be, but maybe it will be less individualistic and more redemptive. Maybe it will be a story about communities that heal those who suffer from addiction, broken homes, trauma, prison and loss, a story of those who triumph over the isolation, social instability and dislocation so common today.

We’ll probably need a new definition of masculinity, too. There are many groups in society who have lost an empire but not yet found a role. Men are the largest of those groups. The traditional masculine ideal isn’t working anymore. It leads to high dropout rates, high incarceration rates, low labor force participation rates. This is an economy that rewards emotional connection and verbal expressiveness. Everywhere you see men imprisoned by the old reticent, stoical ideal.

The New York Times columnist has achieved some infamy in recent months for meandering conservative apologetics and generally incomprehensible reflections of his uneasy soul; his latest exhibit is predictably disastrous, but remains significant for a couple of reasons.

What most seem to have noticed is his suggestion that Republican leaders “seem blithely unaware that this is a Joe McCarthy moment”, and his declaration that, “People will be judged by where they stood at this time”. But there is also this reflection on the American narrative in general and masculinity in particular, which might well get lost between the discussion of declinism, Donald Trump’s pain, societal obligation, and, you know, by the time one reaches the sentence, “Maybe the task is to build a ladder of hope”―yes, he really wrote that―the whole thing is simply agonizing, and only goes downhill from there, but along the way there are these three nearly magical paragraphs.

(more…)

Painful

Er … um … ouch:

Tom Tomorrow: "Go read David Brooks' column in the NYT this morning and tell me that's not just one giant subtweet from a man going through a divorce." (via Twitter, 3 March 2015)

And, well, yeah, about that.

So much of life is about leave-taking: moving from home to college, from love to love, from city to city and from life stage to life stage.

David Brooks of The New York TimesIn earlier times, leaving was defined by distance, but now it is defined by silence. Everybody everywhere is just a text away, a phone call away. Relationships are often defined by the frequency and intensity of communication between two people.

The person moving on and changing a relationship no longer makes a one-time choice to physically go to another town. He makes a series of minute-by-minute decisions to not text, to not email or call, to turn intense communication into sporadic conversation or no communication. His name was once constant on his friend’s phone screen, but now it is rare and the void is a wound.

(Brooks)

And so on.

Anyway. Yeah. About that.

Life transitions are.

Still, though. Ouch.

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Tomorrow, Tom. “Go read David Brooks’ column in the NYT this morning and tell me that’s not just one giant subtweet from a man going through a divorce”. Twitter. 3 March 2015.

Brooks, David. “Leaving and Cleaving”. The New York Times. 3 March 2015.