David Brooks Would Like Obama to Top Paul Ryan With Something Big

David Brooks, keeper of Burke’s reanimated corpse and devotee of madcap monarchism, is disappointed in Obama:

President Obama is an intelligent, judicious man who can see all sides of an issue. But every once in a while he tries to get politically cute, and he puts on his Keith Olbermann mask.

I suppose it’s to his credit that he’s most inept when he tries to take the low road. He resorts to hoary, brain-dead clichés. He wanders so far from his true nature that he makes Mitt Romney look like Mr. Authenticity.

That’s pretty much what happened this week in Obama’s speech before a group of newspaper editors. Obama’s target in this speech was Representative Paul Ryan’s budget.

Yes, the one time that Obama indulges in the rhetorical flourishes that commonly seep from the hemorrhoidic buttocks of the Republitards he is decidedly worse than Gaius Julius Mittensus Caesar, Emperor of Romneyland and Bearer of the Gold Standard of American Meritocratic Failure. Worse still, his target was Paul Ryan, the handsome little man with the big fat plan!

But before Brooks delves too deep into the pit of right-wing ideological adulation, he wants to remind us of his philosophical centrism:

It should be said at the outset that the Ryan budget has some disturbing weaknesses, which Democrats are right to identify. The Ryan budget would cut too deeply into discretionary spending. This could lead to self-destructive cuts in scientific research, health care for poor kids and programs that boost social mobility. Moreover, the Ryan tax ideas are too regressive. They make tax cuts for the rich explicit while they hide any painful loophole closings that might hurt Republican donors.

You see, don’t you?! Brooks acknowledges the difficulties with Ryan’s plan! He’s a true philosopher! Sadly, though the difficulties that he outlines are actually quite convincing, he betrays his argument and goes on to prop up Obama’s reasonable whinging as a dancing straw man (if he only had a brain!):

But these legitimate criticisms and Obama’s modest but real deficit-reducing accomplishments got buried under an avalanche of distortion. The Republicans have been embarrassing themselves all primary season. It’s as if Obama wanted to sink to their level in a single hour.

Again, Brooks equates Obama’s rightly spoken criticisms with the entire Republitard campaign’s rhetorical fracas. So not only does Brooks cast a straw man in his Théâtre de l’Absurde, but he proceeds to light it on fire! Zut alors! Brooks also found Obama’s “tone” to be unacceptable, as well as his use of 80s liberal clichés (paging Ronald Reagan, would Ronald Reagan please report to EVERY FUCKING REPUBLICAN CANDIDATE’S STUMP). He then reminds us, in true Brooksian fashion, of his familiarity with the Great Books curriculum:

Social Darwinism, by the way, was a 19th-century philosophy that held, in part, that Aryans and Northern Europeans are racially superior to brown and Mediterranean peoples.

And for those of you following along on your “How to Write an Essay By David Brooks” rubric, now comes the moment when Brooks cites studies to demonstrate his wonkishness and objectivity:

There are, indeed, real differences, but in the short term they are not a chasm. In 2013, according to Veronique de Rugy of George Mason University, the Ryan budget would be about 5 percent smaller than the Obama budget, and it would grow a percent or two more slowly each year. After 10 years, government would be smaller under Ryan, but, as Daniel Mitchell of the Cato Institute complains, it would still take up a larger share of national output than when Bill Clinton left office.

If only Obama had cited the Cato Institute he wouldn’t have lost all his credibility.

But Brooks isn’t done with Obama yet, because Obama had the temerity to assault Ryan’s asinine Medicare revamp (you know, the one that’s a giant giveaway to the insurance industry, and will likely lead to poor old bastards dying on the street or in their shabby trailers—but fuck them, right? Hahahaha!).

Obama claimed that Ryan’s plan “will ultimately end Medicare as we know it.” Which seems accurate, as that is the ostensible goal of the reform: ending the bloated entitlements and denying the fat coverage that’s bankrupting the nation. But alas, Brooks doesn’t care for that phrasing, most likely because it accurately reflects the plan’s intentions, and so he reminds us that such claims were voted on by the Internetz and were deemed false.

For Brooks, Obama’s rhetoric is a symptom of the pervasive disease: Democrats refuse to do the things that Republicans want them to do without complaining about it. However, it seems as though Brooks’ outrage is the outrage of an assclown; that is to say, he takes Obama to task for something that every Republican has been doing since the beginning of the primaries. According to Brooks, “Obama shouldn’t be sniping at Ryan. He should be topping him with something bigger and better.”

“He should be topping him with something bigger and better…” I see now that I’ve completely misunderstood this piece! Clearly we’ve merely wandered into one of Brooks’ sexual fantasies. Sorry, Dave! But maybe next time leave a fucking tie on the door or something!

David Brooks Thinks Romneybot Should Run a Self-Diagnostic

No doubt Gauis Julius Mittensus Caesar is quite happy this morning. Why? Well, perhaps it’s because over his daily mug of the blood of the poor his favorite columnist, one David Brooks, the ever-screeching Burkean bagpipe, offered some sociological insight from the 1950s: Mittensus is “other-directed,” and if he aims to win the presidency, he ought to harp on some bad talking points like that idiot Santorum.

But maybe you think “other-directed” sounds good; ‘He likes to volunteer,’ you think to yourself. Sadly, “other-directed” seems to be the worst of the types! It lacks the dedication to tradition that growing up on a farm gives you (tradition-directed, yay!), and doesn’t possess the individual certainty of moral rectitude that one receives whilst growing up during an industrial period (inner-directed, what-what).*

Seemingly, contrasted to the other types adumbrated in The Lonely Crowd (Brooks’s “I practically invented American Studies” selection of the week), it’s the worst possible type! According to Brooks’s analysis (which unfortunately I’ll have to rely on because I seem to have misplaced my well-annotated copy of The Lonely Crowd), the “other-directed” type is the sad product of the modern economy:

The other-directed personality type emerges in a service or information age economy. In this sort of economy, most workers are not working with physical things; they are manipulating people. The other-directed person becomes adept at pleasing others, at selling him or herself.

The other-directed person is attuned to what other people want him to be. The other-directed person is a pliable member of a team and yearns for acceptance. He or she is less notable for having a rigid character than for having a smooth personality.

Sadly, our armchair Lacan (I can name-drop, too, Brooks!) lacks the courage of his convictions, and waivers on his analysis: Brooks doesn’t know Mittensus, really, but he certainly does seem like an “other-directed,” gladhanding android.

This tendency to seem like a shallow automaton works against poor Mittensus because according to Brooks, this is a bad time to be seen as “other-directed” (though that particular character type is an inevitable product of our modern paradigm). We’re at a crisis moment in America, dammit—the people want values! Is this the nation that defeated communism? Hell yes it is! Thus, the American people want a gunslinging cowboy that they can drink beer with and have homoerotic fantasies about! There’s nothing erotic about an android wearing Hermes.

Brooks claims that this desire for certainty and uprightness of character is particularly strong for Republicans—they prefer their homoerotic fantasies to involve airport bathrooms and vacations with rent-boys; Republicans prefer their gay sex with layers of secrecy and a clearly demarcated power dynamic. They also prefer a candidate who has unshakeable convictions; a candidate willing to make the hard choices and govern with a giant phallus of doom. Having noted the deepest desires of Republicans, Brooks offers some advice for Mittensus:

If Romney is to thrive, he really needs to go on an integrity tour. He needs to show how his outer pronouncements flow directly from his inner core. He needs to trust that voters will take him as he really is. He needs to tell his own complicated individual story and stop reducing himself to the outsider/businessman advertising cliché. He needs to tell us what about his character is more fundamental than his national park patriotism and his skill at corporate restructuring.

Brooks also thinks that Mittensus needs to stop with all the Goddamn used-car salesman flip-flopping platitudes. If he’s going to govern, he’s got to be willing to send a few grannies to their deaths, and moreover, tell those bitches he’s doing it while he eats a slice of pie.

For Brooks, the granny-killing type is exemplified by Santorum; with or without media attention, Santorum would still want to kill your grandmother and shove your gay cousin back in the closet. If only Mittensus would learn that crazy, categorical bullshit wins the day, he too could be president.

*I’d like to take this opportunity to point out that David Brooks does not know what the fuck he’s talking about with regard to Victorian morality. In fact, there was no such thing; what we regard as Victorian “morality,” was largely a construct fabricated confluence of particular social and cultural factors, as well as later interpreters. Victorian “morality” does not exist; it is a fiction dreamed up by Sigmund Freud and perpetuated by conservative scholars. Stick with the Enlightenment, Brooks.

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