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Again, Blaming "Government," Not Bush

A number of bloggers, starting with Josh Marshall, have noted and ridiculed this passage from David Brooks's New York Times column Saturday:

Because of that legacy, we stink at social engineering. Our government couldn't even come up with a plan for postwar Iraq — thank goodness, too, because any "plan" hatched by technocrats in Washington would have been unfit for Iraqi reality.

It's offensive on many levels, but also a good example of what I've been talking about in my last couple of posts: the administration's bizarre ability to turn their own specific policy failures into general indictments of government, which in turn actually supports their political agenda that rests on an aggressive rejection of government.

I think I actually said something nice about David Brooks here once, and he always looked pretty good in the company of most of the Weekly Standard writers, except Chris Caldwell. But I take it all back. Since I wrote that nice thing, Brooks has managed to, in the course of grudgingly supporting gay marriage come out in opposition to dating ("Anybody who has several sexual partners in a year is committing spiritual suicide"), has retailed the stupidest stereotypes of New Yorkers, has been a mouthpiece for the flimsiest White House spin about "the ownership society," and now this.

Posted by Mark Schmitt on December 29, 2003 | Permalink


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To better understand Brooks, see this July 2000 C-Span Booknotes interview:


In it, Brooks describes himself as "a person of the left" during his college years, when "as a junior, I wrote a parody of Bill Buckley's book, "Overdrive" called "The Greatest Story Ever Told" . . . and he came to campus and said, `David Brooks, if you're in the audience, I want to offer you a job.' . . . over the next two or three years, I became more conservative, not quite in The National Review mold, but more conservative. And so two or three years later I said, `You made an offer two years ago. Is that offer still open?' And Buckley, without ever asking about my politics or anything, said, `Yep, come on.' So I went to work at National Review for a year and a half . . . and from there on my course into right-wing media was--was set. I went to The Wall Street Journal editorial page, Washington Times before that and then The Weekly Standard."

Ideology? "It's really unclear what unites conservatives, except for the habit of thinking of each other as conservatives."

In short, we have here a mere opportunist, disposed to use the tools of college-humor journalism toward the end of supposedly serious discourse. No wonder he seems out of place in his prestigious new job.

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