Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Democrats Rejoice...

But David Brooks does not...
Parties come to embody causes. For the past 90 years or so, the Republican Party has, at its best, come to embody the cause of personal freedom and economic dynamism. For a similar period, the Democratic Party has, at its best, come to embody the cause of fairness and family security. Over the past century, they have built a welfare system, brick by brick, to guard against the injuries of fate.

If you grew up, as I did, with a Hubert Humphrey poster on your wall and a tradition of Democratic Party activism in your family, you recognize the Democratic DNA in the content of this bill and in the way it was passed. There was the inevitable fractiousness, the neuroticism, the petty logrolling, but also the basic concern for the vulnerable and the high idealism.

And there was also the faith in the grand liberal project. Democrats protected the unemployed starting with the New Deal, then the old, then the poor. Now, thanks to health care reform, millions of working families will go to bed at night knowing that they are not an illness away from financial ruin.

For apostates like me, watching this bill go through the meat grinder was like watching an old family reunion. One glimpse and you got the whole panoply of what you loved and found annoying about these people.
Read the rest here.


Anonymous said...

Loved the remark about the Iraq war.

Anonymous said...

David Brooks, a thoughtful person known to embrace complex ideas and sometimes postmodern philosophical frames, has become a surprisingly vacuous commentator. One reads with sadness his latest attempt to craft an interesting or compelling narrative about recent events. Like his superficial people-hate-Washington mantra, his editorial linking the passing of historic healthcare reform to a childhood chimera recalling some poster of Hubert Humphrey in his bedroom (Was this, David, a campaign poster for the somewhat kind but ineffectual HH, or when he stood behind LBJ during the signing of The Civil Rights Act of 1964?) is a pathetic attempt to cast current events as more-of-the-same; Democrats as a regressive party who spend too much on social programs because they’re nice but who don’t get it. Republicans, for Brooks, on the other hand, are the Roman Gladiators he came to respect with age and puberty: they “embody the cause of personal freedom and economic dynamism.” Putting aside for the moment the disastrous “economic dynamism” of the George W. Bush years—including that Administration’s costly yet hollow, self-indulgent, and misguided foreign policies—casting the Democratic victory on health care as another “grand liberal project” is a rather empty idea that misses—pro or con—the enormity of recent cultural shifts.

Brooks has been one of the more creative, engaging, and thoughtful commentators on the right, a mantle that David Frum now holds. But he has succumbed, like the Republican party at large, to an incoherent, superficial, emotional, trite, shriveled balloon kind of rhetoric. Indeed, the man is looking a bit neurotic these days in his talk show appearances.

I want good ideas from David Brooks, and he can do better. Stop whining, David. Frame current events in ways that move the debate forward, not backwards or, worse, nowhere. Pull up your underwear, get out of your childhood bedroom, and start thinking man!