January 27th, 2015
David Brooks has Weird Dreams about Obama
Defending the rich and powerful is not an easy task. Just ask the New York Time’s resident conservative and obsessive class snob David Brooks. The conservative columnist works long and hard to promote the Randian ideology that rich people are inherently more industrious and morally superior to the heaving masses. Brooks has found increasingly clever ways to promote this world view to the NYTimes’s largely liberal, but affluent audience by subtly massaging their egos with lengthy columns telling them just how great they are. His famous essay ‘The Social Animal‘ and the subsequent book, parades as popular science, but is essentially self help literature for upper middle class professionals who he defines as ‘The Composure Class’. And Brooks gives it to them good, urging them to view themselves as dignified, genetically gifted masters of the universe. Witness this breathless opener:
The Composure Class rose once again. Its members didn’t make their money through hedge-fund wizardry or by some big financial score. Theirs was a statelier ascent. They got good grades in school, established solid social connections, joined fine companies, medical practices, and law firms. Wealth settled down upon them gradually, like a gentle snow.
You can see a paragon of the Composure Class having an al-fresco lunch at some bistro in Aspen or Jackson Hole. He’s just back from China and stopping by for a corporate board meeting on his way to a five-hundred-mile bike-a-thon to support the fight against lactose intolerance. He is asexually handsome, with a little less body fat than Michelangelo’s David. As he crosses his legs, you observe that they are immeasurably long and slender. He doesn’t really have thighs. Each leg is just one elegant calf on top of another. His voice is so calm and measured that he makes Barack Obama sound like Sam Kinison.
The almost sexual fawning over educated elites is Brooks’s speciality, and he’s quite the darling in power circles (Obama reads him, and David Cameron was so taken with Brooks’s elitist justifications that he invited him to do a seminar at Downing Street). When Brooks speaks, he speaks about important people. And after years of toiling away, important people now listen.
Last Friday, Brooks penned a piece arguing that the Obama Administration has no serious plan to avoid the sequester other than the default liberal strategy of raising taxes on the rich. The article was widely discredited because as it turns out, the Obama administration does actually have a serious plan to avoid the sequester. Brooks admitted this in an extremely wonkish interview with Ezra Klein, and followed up with another piece in the NYTimes to clarify his position.
Never one to let an opportunity to promote his eugenics based theory of American society, Brooks projects a ‘dream Obama’ who does everything Brooks wants him to do to fix America. This includes:
1. Not blaming Republicans for anything
2. Cutting entitlements
3. Cutting corporate taxes
4. Lecturing poor people for being fat and uneducated.
Of course Brooks version is a lot fancier (because clever people read it), but that’s the gist of it. In David Brooks’s fantasy world, Obama would then be the perfect President – the embodiment of the ‘Composure Class’ who can lead America back to greatness through bold thinking.
My dream Obama wouldn’t be just one gladiator in the zero-sum budget wars. He’d transform the sequester fight by changing the categories that undergird it. He’d possess the primary ingredient of political greatness: imagination. The great presidents, like Teddy Roosevelt, see situations differently. They ask different questions. History pivots around their terms.
It’s brilliant advice really – the culmination of years of careful study and close observance of the rich and powerful. Forget the fact that the Republicans won’t negotiate in good faith, won’t accept anything the President puts on the table, and won’t confront the lunatic fringe of its party that will never compromise – just think like Malcom Gladwell or one of those clever Silicon Valley app developers and solve the nations problems by ‘seeing situations differently’. Perhaps an al-fresco lunch at an avant-garde bistro with Brooks himself could help Obama think through the sequester issue. They could even tweet each other on their iPads while admiring each other’s elegant calf muscles!
This is Brooks’s dream after all…
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