The Sad Long Life of David Brooks

An Arab and his Dogs - Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)

Yesterday I posted a link to David Brooks’ most recent magnum vomitus in which he referenced an article by Dudley Clendinen called “The Good Short Life”. Clendinen’s article is a beautiful, brutal, prickly and funny thing, which you should read immediately, if you have not yet had the pleasure. It will be the best thing you read all day.

Then, if you will, come back and I’ll dare to append some of my own poor scribblings. And a bit of ranting about David Brooks. There will be swearing and David Brooks’s writing may even be compared in a very insulting fashion to baked goods.

Off you go.

See what I mean? That’s the sort of extraordinary writing that David Brooks will never succeed in producing – because the Clendinen article is written by a fine, honorable and self-aware human being and David Brooks’ articles are written by … well, by David Brooks.

I have never met Mister Clendinen, and it saddens me that I almost certainly won’t have the chance to know him. I wish him much joy of the time he has left, much dancing and much walking of dogs, and a quiet and happy death.

On the other hand, David Brooks is a person I would move continents to avoid. While I wish him a long life and little pain – because that is the decent thing to wish for anyone, no matter how morally bankrupt and intellectually turnip-like they may be – I don’t say I wouldn’t be happy if he was to suffer a little accident which removed his ability to write, such as it is. To be frank, I’d probably open a bottle of champagne to celebrate, but it’s generally not something I actively wish for. Actually, if I’m brutally honest, I will admit that rereading both articles made me angry, and that there were moments where I allowed myself to imagine graphic acts of violence against Mr Brooks, but that’s as far as it went, I promise. It was something lingering involving two kilos of anchovies in his pants and an hungry petrel, I seem to recall.

Most satisfying. Very Tippi Hedren.

There are a lot of things wrong with Brooks’ article.

However, I can ignore his willful blindness about the root causes of America’s related healthcare and budget crises (Hint: It’s not the fault of the sick people who would just like to not die in a gutter).

I don’t mind his blithe acceptance that the way to fix the system is to keep the broken system we have and reduce costs by encouraging people to die, rather than reforming (or even socializing) that system (Hint: In most countries with a form of socialized medicine, the political debates are about the details of the socialized system, not its existence, because every politician knows that to mention abolishing socialized medicine will lose you every election in a landslide. People like socialized medicine).

I can make my way through the most repellent Brooks prose without having my palms itch or my temperature rise.

Obviously, we are never going to cut off Alzheimer’s patients and leave them out on a hillside. We are never coercively going to give up on the old and ailing. But it is hard to see us reducing health care inflation seriously unless people and their families are willing to do what Clendinen is doing — confront death and their obligations to the living.

I love how he veers from those authoritative pronouncements of what “we” are going to allow, and what it will be hard to see “us” doing, straight into the declaration that “people and their families” (but presumably not “we” and “us” anymore) will have to stand eye to eye with rabid death and pay their dues to their nation.

I can forgive his mangled metaphors, his twee primness (or is it prim tweeness?):

But in large measure it’s about our inability to face death and our willingness as a nation to spend whatever it takes to push it just slightly over the horizon.

and his complete failure to engage with his subject or educate, inform and/or entertain with his prose. I can even forgive this:

There are many ways to think about the finitude of life.

Can’t you just imagine Davey typing “finitude”? Mouthing the word to himself under his breath, his lips pursed into a little moue of satisfaction, perhaps a wry smile at his own cleverness.

I can accept that, although in this article Brooks has veered dangerously close to inserting a valid point, lurking there beneath the layer of smugness that coats his every pronouncement like the royal icing on a particularly loathsome wedding cake, that point rises no higher than:

People might want to raise my taxes to pay for the poor and the dying. As I am fit, healthy and rich, someone else should do something to prevent their problems impacting on me. I like both free enterprise and cheese.

However, none of these egregious sins against good taste, intellectual rigor and human decency made me angry.

What made me mad, what sent me scuttling for my phone to order a batch of muffins for Mr Brooks*, is that, as the lovely Mr Levenson pointed out in the comments, Brooks appropriates Clendinen’s words and twists them:

Clendinen’s article is worth reading for the way he defines what life is. Life is not just breathing and existing as a self-enclosed skin bag. It’s doing the activities with others you were put on earth to do.

But it’s also valuable as a backdrop to the current budget mess. This fiscal crisis is about many things, but one of them is our inability to face death — our willingness to spend our nation into bankruptcy to extend life for a few more sickly months.

Brooks takes Clendinen’s words about friendship and family and joy and struggle and his right to die with dignity, about his choice (as Mr Levenson puts it):

to live the life he thinks worth and worthy of living, and not one moment that is not,

about his decision to say no to the operations and the pain and the blood and shit and piss and the loss of self that disease can bring, about planning his own death as honestly and lovingly as he can, and about how one’s right to die is necessarily also the right to choose to fight on …

David Fucking Brooks takes those wonderful, painful words and uses them in a prim little sermon on how the aged and the infirm and the poor should grit their teeth, think of the Stars and Stripes and just die already.

That is simply unforgivable.

* If you make very good friends with a New York baker, like I did, you can get laxative-laced muffins couriered to people you hate in the most gorgeous baskets you have ever seen, and at very reasonable rates. Nobody can resist a nice, fresh-baked muffin.

[Image – An Arab and his Dogs – Jean-Leon Gerome (1824-1904)]

[Cross posted at Sarah, Proud and Tall.]

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59 replies
  1. 1
    WereBear says:

    I can’t help but think of Dr. Stewart Graveline, NASA physician, who also has ALS. He thinks he knows what caused it, in his case.

    The two articles are a tremendous contrast; because one actually treasures life, and the other only pretends to.

  2. 2
    JPL says:

    WereBear thank you for the link. Google provides a wealth of information on this.

  3. 3

    What’s the quote about telling the value of a society by how they treat their old, young and sick? I don’t think Bobo’s society is worth shit.

  4. 4
    PaulW says:

    Dear Mr. Brooks:

    Does this mean that when you find out you have cancer or some degenerative disease, you are going to do the honorable thing, live up to your words, and take yourself out of the fiscal equation of healthcare by refusing treatment?

  5. 5
    geg6 says:

    Astonishing, really, how often pure evil comes in the most banal packaging.

    Sarah, you are a love. I am not and fervently wish a short life and painful death on Bobo.

  6. 6
    JPL says:

    What does David think about EMTALA? The Reagan plan for health care that costs us all in additional premiums. Are clinics bad but emergency room treatment okay? We live in a strange country.

  7. 7
    c u n d gulag says:

    Sarah,
    Muffins with laxative, eh? Great idea.

    You could also invite Bobo for cocktails, and put a few drops of Visine in it – then, get the Hell out of the room.
    He’ll wish he could join Mr. Clendinen sooner, rather than later.

    As for this:
    “As I am fit, healthy and rich, someone else should do something to prevent their problems impacting on me. I like both free enterprise and cheese.”

    Well, I’d take the little cheese knife and hack this motherfucking prick’s dick and balls off, and then shove them in his mouth, and laugh at him while be bleeds to death.

  8. 8

    That was a wonderful piece.”Elegiac,” I think is an apt description. Not sure David Brooks’ failings belong in any discussion of Cleninden’s column.

    My cousin died very unexpectedly last weekend. We’re going to L.A. for the funeral next week. Having nursed my mother through a long, protracted period of incapacitation, I think I’d rather go quickly. Cleninden’s perspective is an interesting one: I don’t have to worry about fatty foods or retirement! Huzzah!

  9. 9

    In other NYT useless idiots news, The Moustache of Understanding yields to his caricature:

    The other day striking Greek cabdrivers tried to muscle their way into the minister of infrastructure’s office — only to discover that it was already full of his own ministry’s striking employees. Take a number, please.

    How’s that flat world working out for you, moustache?

  10. 10
    WereBear says:

    He should not tempt fate so blatantly.

    Karma is not instant; but it is relentless.

  11. 11
    WereBear says:

    Having nursed my mother through a long, protracted period of incapacitation, I think I’d rather go quickly.

    I’ve concluded it’s easier on us to go quickly. However, when an older person slips away gradually, it’s easier on the survivors than a sudden shock.

    However, it really should be easier on the person most closely involved!

  12. 12
    Bob says:

    Didn’t Alan Grayson beat Bobo to the punch in articulating the conservative/Republican end of life plan? “Die quickly.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-usmvYOPfco

  13. 13
    Wag says:

    Mr Brooks is half right in his formulation of the problem. We, as a nation, do spend too much money on futile treatments at the end of life. Additionally , there are peverse incentives built in to our society that make it difficult to have the necessary discussions about end of life care. The whole debacle surrounding “death panels” that nearly/partially derailed the HCR debate proves that the GOP has no interest in reining in spending or in promoting decent patient care.

    The half that Mr Brooks misses is the entire administrative half of our health care system. If we were interested in an efficient system, we would have Medicare for all, with a medical loss ratio ( the percentage of money in the system that is actually spent providing direct patient care) of 95%, instead of our current patchwork system that Includes robber baron insurance companies with a MLR of 60%, spending 40% of premium dollars on raising barriers to care and on executive compensation.

  14. 14
    Jeffro says:

    Good writing like Clendinen’s makes me want to pick up that Cohen live CD.

    Bobo’s musings make me want to visit my local library and comment throughout its copy of “The Social Animal” with a Sharpie.

  15. 15
    gnomedad says:

    @arguingwithsignposts:

    striking Greek cabdrivers

    That phrase sounded really gay at first.

  16. 16
    harlana says:

    Where did he say the thing about cheese? I believe I checked all the links and couldn’t find it, but then when it comes to Brooks, I’m a “skimmer” – especially this morning, I am still hungover from Friday night. Please don’t make me suffer through Brooks anymore than I already have this morning.

  17. 17
    beltane says:

    I do wish that Bobo and McArdle and all the rest of these genteel ghouls would experience their share of physical pain and psychological torment. It might teach them a thing or two about being human, and lord knows they could stand to learn a thing or two about being human because as it is now they are just monsters who have been given a disproportionate amount of resources and who produce nothing but wickedness in return.

    If David Brooks wants to cull people, I suggest that he start with himself, his friends, family, and colleagues.

  18. 18

    @harlana: I think that’s SP&T’s paraphrase.

  19. 19
    harlana says:

    I wonder what Brooks thinks about Dick Cheney’s five heart surgeries and implant?

  20. 20
    harlana says:

    gnomedad: Thanks, I thought it was something like that, but I’m a little brain-dead this morning

  21. 21
    beltane says:

    How many of the striking Greek cabdrivers were moustached? The answer to that question wins you half a Friedman unit in the vacation destination of your choice.

  22. 22
    Cermet says:

    The trouble with our system is that an easy death as provided by an in place system (after a reasonable but proper review) is outlawed due to medieval thinking. A quick painless, fool proof and widely available method to die that is trivially simple is available and that’s the rub – anyone can do it and far too many depressed people might do it who would otherwise continue to live (and maybe get help/antidepressants in time.)Knowledge is power but for both harm as well as good. Even MD’s can not be allowed to know this method since once it got out, far too many who could and should be treated would make a terrible choice. So, the old saying is so true – damn if you do and damned if you don’t. Life sucks but at least it is rarely fair … wait, that doesn’t help … .

  23. 23
    Trollenschlongen says:

    Sarah, I have come to really enjoy your writing.

    That is all.

  24. 24
    Mike R. says:

    Isn’t it awesome how Mr. Brooks appropriated an incredibly well thought out and sincere first person account and decided that it was not about “Lou”, no it was about the evil motherfuckers running this country and how we all really need to meet “Lou” to help them reshape society into their perfect image. David Brooks is a small, petty, pathetic little man, Dudley Clendinen is an artist and a noble human being; there is no question who is better person.
    Thank you Sarah for bringing this to our attention.

  25. 25
    WereBear says:

    Deadly Compassion (pdf link) is a book which delineates how the second wife of Hemlock Society founder Derek Humphry found herself completely abandoned to die once her cancer diagnosis arrived. Far from being supported as she made her way to life’s last passage, she was hounded to “get it done already” by everyone she knew in the movement she co-founded.

    Then there’s Canada’s Latimer case:

    Tracy was a 40-pound quadriplegic, a 12-year-old who functioned at the level of a three-month-old. She had been repeatedly operated on and at the time of her murder was due for more surgery, this time to remove a thigh bone. She could not walk, talk or feed herself, though she responded to affection and occasionally smiled. Tracy was in constant, excruciating pain yet, for reasons not entirely clear, could not be treated with a painkiller stronger than Tylenol.

    After twelve years of seeing his child suffer constantly, he put her in the family truck and piped the exhaust into it. Then he turned himself in.

    There are no hard and fast rules. That’s why we have to turn to common sense and compassion; not dogma or self-serving suckups.

    Wake up and be human beings. Once you grasp that; it might be difficult to do what’s right. But it’s really not hard to figure out what that is.

  26. 26
    boatboy_srq says:

    Shorter David Brooks:

    We should all be smart enough to know when to turn off our own respirators.

    That this suggestion is so obviously impossible, impractical and completely at odds with the US medical system (which empowers doctors, next of kin and curious passers-by to override our own wishes and keep us plugged in and vegetating) doesn’t seem to occur to him.

    Has it even entered his brain that everything he suggests (death with dignity, willingness to forgo advanced procedures that would extend one’s lifespan, end of life planning, etc) has already been vetoed by his own side as somehow unAmerican, unethical, anti-capitalist or otherwise bad? All the things he respects Clendinen for are all but impossible for most US residents, thanks to the byzantine legal requirements for end of life care and the insistence from the Teabaggers that such discussions shouldn’t happen in the public sphere. Advanced end of life planning becoming “death panels” in the public debate is only one part of it. One needs only look at the Terri Schaivo case to see how warped our discussion of – and planning for – healthcare (in particular care for the terminal patient) has become.

    Nothing about the way Brooks writes offends me more than his ability to outline a fair, socially conscious agenda, ignore that Democrats have already been prevented from implementing exactly what he advocates by the GOP he adores, and wonder blithely why nobody has suggested it yet.

    And as for seeing him take his own advice and go quickly and quietly, I can’t wait to see what happens when the GOP he insists is the only party capable of saving the nation are the first ones to step in and prevent him from anything but a long, slow, life-support-prolonged end.

  27. 27
    asiangrrlMN says:

    Amen, Ms. Sarah, amen. The article by Clendinen is one of the best things I’ve read lately. Very poignant, beautifully-written, and sobering. David Brooks is reprehensible in the way he mutilates the dignity of the message Clendinen is conveying. The important part: Clendinen is CHOOSING his path to death after much thought and lots of support from family and friends. He’s controlling when and how he dies. He declined the treatment that may have given him more time, yes, but to me, that was not the main thrust of his article.

    I am not as kindhearted as you are, Ms. Sarah. I would poke Brooks over and over in the hindquarters with my rusty pitchfork if I thought it had any chance of incapacitating him in any way. Barring that, I wish he would have a horrible accident which caused him to no longer be able to type.

  28. 28
    kth says:

    The Clendinen piece is wonderful, and Brooks transforms it into an argument for cost-benefit analyzing every day an old or sick person spends in the hospital. The meter’s running, and you don’t seem to be getting much out of life, nor have much prospect of recovery. But it’s your choice.

    Obviously that was already said in the OP, but I felt like it ought to be reiterated. Also David Brooks = Uriah Heep (the Dickens character, not the prog band): at once cringing and scheming.

  29. 29
    MazeDancer says:

    Sarah, your post is a beautiful illumination of Brooks’s repellent, twisty co-opting of his betters. Made me go read Mr. Clendinen, which improved my life forever.

    This line, especially, Mr. Clendinen wrote about his successful work with counsellors, was such a distillation of some wise bedrock reality:

    They taught me that I could be myself, but that life wasn’t just about me.

    May we all learn to smilingly practice both sides of that wisdom.

  30. 30
    eemom says:

    Brilliant, Mrs. Sarah — absolutely brilliant.

    You have done Brooks the literary justice he deserves. Now if only fate would serve him up a big fat wallop of earthly justice that would wipe that godawful insufferably smug smirk off his vile mug once and for all.

  31. 31
    phx says:

    While I wish him a long life and little pain – because that is the decent thing to wish for anyone, no matter how morally bankrupt and intellectually turnip-like they may be – I don’t say I wouldn’t be happy if he was to suffer a little accident which removed his ability to write, such as it is. To be frank, I’d probably open a bottle of champagne to celebrate, but it’s generally not something I actively wish for. Actually, if I’m brutally honest, I will admit that rereading both articles made me angry, and that there were moments where I allowed myself to imagine graphic acts of violence against Mr Brooks, but that’s as far as it went, I promise.

    How immature is this? Some of you folks really need to learn to stick to the issues instead of personalities.

  32. 32
    John Weiss says:

    David Brooks is an insufferable wanker. I don’t want to talk about him.

    I don’t want to give him the air.

    Insufferable wanker. My life is too short.

  33. 33
    eemom says:

    @ 31

    go away, twitty troll. You are unworthy to touch the hem of our Sarah’s garment.

    Oh right — stick to the issues. The issue here is that you’re a pious little scold. Betake your Mature self elsewhere, plz. kthxbai

  34. 34
    jane from hell says:

    What Cermet said. We really don’t give people the option to opt out. For some, it’s either “die a slow horrible lingering death on expensive, life-extending measures, shedding quality of life” or “choose a method of suicide that will null your insurance, be difficult for loved ones to deal with, be excruciatingly painful, and STILL may not work…and leave you on life-extending treatment again.” Even the Hemlock Society hasn’t worked this out, legally at least.

  35. 35
    Gretchen says:

    @17 beltane. I second you about McArdle. She’s got a thing going now about how Obama “lied” during the campaign about his mother fighting insurance companies from her hospital bed. Her autobiographer said that while she had a dispute about being covered by disability insurance, she had health insurance. All the rich, entitled children who comment over there are sure that if you have health insurance, you wouldn’t need to be disputing anything – it just pays for everything, doesn’t it? That’s another one that made me wish a painful, lingering death on someone.

  36. 36
    Bruce S says:

    I haven’t read all of the comments so maybe I’m late to this point, but I’d be very careful batting around the term “s*cialized medicine.”

    The country akin to the US that actually has s*cialized medicine is the UK, where there is a public health care system organized and run by the government. The bulk of the UK health care system runs essentially like our Veterans hospitals (also “s*cialized medicine” and perhaps the only truly exemplary sector of our own system, in terms of balancing costs with effectiveness.)

    Neither France, nor Canada, have s*cialized medicine. They have s*cialized health insurance and a regulatory framework for the privately run health care delivery system.

    Other countries like Holland and Switzerland have heavily regulated universally-mandated health insurance from private companies, but it’s not “s*cialized” – i.e. monopolized or administered by the state. The link above referring to “even s*cializing” the health care system was, erroneously, about South Korea. South Korea has a single-payer health insurance system that is, effectively, “s*cialized”, but their health care is privately run under a system of price controls.

    “S*cialized” actually means something – and “regulated” or “mandated” isn’t the meaning. In California, automobile insurance is mandated and “universal” within a regulatory framework, but it’s clearly not “s*cialized.” I don’t think it makes much sense to bow to the “scare” words of the Right – they’ve always cried “s*cialism” whenever the government engages in any regulation of markets. In fact, the purpose of regulation is to make markets more “free” in the sense of a more level playing field and fewer distortions, corruption or monopolistic practices. Doesn’t always work that way or perfectly and “regulatory capture” is a major problem, but that’s the point.

    Most of the wailing about “s*cialism” from the right has actually been about programs and policies that have been intended to allow the fundamentals of “private enterprise” produce broadly benign and beneficial outcomes. Aside from the obvious plus of averting a total system breakdown, part of the purpose had been to de-legitimate the notion of real s*cialism when there was something of an ideological contest between liberals and actual “Leftists.” (The latter ideological tendency is currently largely non-existent in our political discourse and does not include a perturbed, persistently rational, re-evaluating and essentially reformed neo-liberal like Paul Krugman, no matter how much goal-post shifting might have occurred in the wake of a rabid right.)

    Maybe we can conjure the notion of “s*cializing” a right to a public good – like health care – and leave the planning of how best to provide it to the vagaries of policy wonks and politics. And we DO have examples of s*cialized public services, quite obviously – mostly at the local level. But to call most of these universal health care systems “s*cialized” is a pretty fuzzy notion of “socialism” – in that it signifies they are publicly owned-and-operated, like a police or fire department. Outside of the UK, they’re mostly not.

    There’s no magic wand to eliminate fear-mongering, but I don’t think re-defining the concept of “s*cialism” into something so vague makes much sense. It actually plays into a hysterical and near-insane political distortion being bandied about by extremist know-nothings.

  37. 37
    gelfling545 says:

    I am writing this through tears. My younger brother had juvenile onset diabetes which manifested at age 13. (Our mother also had it but it oddly did not manifest until a year after my brother was diagnosed.)He was careful and conscientious about diet and was physically very active but 40 years of diabetes no matter how well controlled takes a toll. He was told that he required bypass surgery but that, in consequence, he would almost certainly go into kidney failure & require dialysis. Having witnessed the painful and extended death my mother endured only a few years previously and the toll it took on the family he declined the surgery and told no one but his clergyman. He lived two more years before being taken by a massive heart attack. Before his funeral his doctor shared with us the decision that my brother had made & why. I still marvel at his courage and pray that I would be able to do the same in such circumstances. For Mr. Brooks to reduce that courage to an item in balancing the budget, to view it as a way for him to save a few dollars in taxes frankly makes me want to vomit.

  38. 38
    Bruce S says:

    Good lord – comment moderation over the “S-word.”

    If a post uses the “S-word” what’s the sense of commenters not being able to refer to it without getting sent to Purgatory.

  39. 39
    boss bitch says:

    I really love that painting. Can’t stop looking at it.

  40. 40
    Caz says:

    “I don’t wish anything bad upon him. Actually, I do because I’m your typical self-absorbed, hateful liberal who is immensely proud of my witty and clever attacks on conservatives. If I say hateful things in sort of a dark humor kind of way, then it’s perfectly acceptable. Besides, I only converse with other liberals anyway, so I don’t need to be in touch with reality or have any sense of respect or kindness for others. As long as my fellow liberals agree with me, that’s all that counts. To hell with facts and anyone who is not liberal!”

  41. 41
    MazeDancer says:

    @gelfling545:

    Clearly your brother was a remarkable man. So sorry for your loss and his loss to your community and us all. Thank you for giving us your story.

    And I cannot help but be moved by, and agree with, your completely justified and insightful observation:

    For Mr. Brooks to reduce that courage to an item in balancing the budget, to view it as a way for him to save a few dollars in taxes frankly makes me want to vomit.

  42. 42
    Norwonk says:

    I’d like the number of that baker. Of course, Brooks is already spewing feces wherever he goes, so it won’t make much difference if the direction is reversed for once.

    And that’s probably my most scatalogical comment ever. Yay! No one could be a more fitting target than Bobo.

  43. 43
    alwhite says:

    I held my grandfathers hand while he gave up control over end of life choices for my grandmother because the bastard doctor told him he was killing her by not letting him insert a feeding tube. The fucker only wanted to the medicare money that he could milk out of them. He regretted that decision bitterly for the next 2 years & paid a lawyer to see he did not get treated that way.

    My dad went relatively fast after his stroke and my mom learned her lesson and had legal documents that allowed her to go peacefully in my sisters home.

    This became an important issue to me again on Friday when I was diagnosed with a tumor in my throat. While the cure rate is phenomenally good it is not 100%. I am sure Bobo would be quite happy if only those with large quantities of cash could control their outcome because that would be people like him. The rest of us he never thinks about except to use as a prop to prove his own superiority.

  44. 44
    Reilly says:

    Your posting is another shameful instance of the coarsening of discourse on the web. You equate david brooks’ words with smugness, but I haven’t read anything nearly as smug and precious as what you’ve written. You should reserve your inexplicable rancor for things that merit it. If your goal was to get some kind of human compassion, you’ve accomplished the complete opposite.

  45. 45
    Reilly says:

    Wow! Got rid of my comment in less than five minutes. So not only do you post lopsided arguments that ignore the crux of the issue here, but you also take a fascist’s stance on opposing viewpoints. What a beacon of intellectual integrity!

  46. 46
    Fluffy says:

    I allowed myself to imagine graphic acts of violence against Mr Brooks,[] It was something lingering involving two kilos of anchovies in his pants and an hungry petrel, I seem to recall.
    I love you. In all chaste truth, I do.

  47. 47
    Lydgate says:

    My real problem with the piece was Mr. Brooks making the decision for others what constitutes quality of life. There was one gentleman who commented that his wife had ALS– and she is leading a fulfilling life, she’s not simply a “sack of skin” (God, did he really write that?). A disabled person may have a life just as rich and fulfilling as anyone else. Pity or celebrating them for “overcoming” their circumstances is not what they need or want.
    Also, I really think for once Brooks should actually get out and see the people about whom he is writing. Fat chance!

  48. 48
    WaterGirl says:

    @ alwhite

    Wow. That sounds like an awful thing to go through, and I especially feel bad for your grandfather because regrets only make terrible things harder. I am angry after just reading about it.

    “The rest of us he never thinks about, except to use as a prop to prove his own superiority.” Well put. So sorry to hear about your diagnosis. Glad to hear that the cure rate is phenomenally good, but I’m sure it’s still shocking and scary.

    I kept hoping someone else would respond to you first, because a lot of folks here seem to know just the right thing to say, but the thread was basically done for an hour before you posted, so it looks like you are stuck with me. :-)

  49. 49
    pianoguy says:

    If I were a turnip, I’d challenge you to a duel for suggesting that Brooks is “intellectually turnip-like.” There are insults even a root vegetable should not have to endure.

  50. 50
    W. Kiernan says:

    Bruce S: Good lord – comment moderation over the “S-word.”

    It’s probably not the “s-word” per se but a subset of the letters of the “s-word” when it is fully spelled out. Specifically, these letters – sea, eye, hey, hell, eye, yes – which lined up together spell out the brand name of a certain prescription medicine for erectile dysfunction that was the subject of literally billions of spam emails and spam blog comments.

  51. 51
    No one of Importance says:

    Like a child finger painting in its own poo, Brooks and his kind foul everything they touch.

    Righteous piece, young Sarah. I could quite begin to like you all over again.

  52. 52
    Llelldorin says:

    Harlana @19

    That’s a lovely bit of cross-examination. If the Republicans keep to their current suicidal tack on the debt ceiling, my one pleasure will be watching as a lot of our half-assed would-be plutocrats are abruptly converted into part of that “we” that need to get used to the idea of less medical care.

  53. 53

    @ Reilly:

    Wow! Got rid of my comment in less than five minutes. So not only do you post lopsided arguments that ignore the crux of the issue here, but you also take a fascist’s stance on opposing viewpoints. What a beacon of intellectual integrity!

    No one deleted your comments. You were put into moderation, probably because you have never posted before (or alternatively, never under this handle) and released when one of the front pagers had the chance to go through the moderation folder.

    Your posting is another shameful instance of the coarsening of discourse on the web. You equate david brooks’ words with smugness, but I haven’t read anything nearly as smug and precious as what you’ve written. You should reserve your inexplicable rancor for things that merit it.

    I’m a crazy fictional old lady with impulse control issues and about seventeen simultaneous drug addictions. If I managed to restrain myself to smug, precious and rancorous, then that’s a good day in my book, dear.

    I would also suggest that anyone who does not feel rancor after reading a David Brooks column needs their head examining … or is David Brooks – but I repeat myself.

    If your goal was to get some kind of human compassion, you’ve accomplished the complete opposite

    My goal was to point out that David Brooks is a worthless hack not worthy to read Clendinen’s words, let alone dribble his own brand of bile all over them.

  54. 54
    Bruce S says:

    W Kiernan:

    “a certain prescription medicine for erectile dysfunction that was the subject of literally billions of spam emails and spam blog comments”

    And I thought it was a theory of economic and social organization concocted by Owen, Fourier, Saint-Simon, Proudhon and, of course, Karl Marx.

    Obviously I’m a total idiot.

    We clearly need a column by Mr. Brooks on the skyrocketing costs of “sea, eye, hey, hell, eye, yes” to our health care system as well as to our internetz. Unless and until old men are willing to give up 4 hour erections, neither medical care nor blog commenting will be sustainable. Problemz needz solving.

  55. 55
    KC wildmoon says:

    I do know Dudley Clendinen, and I shall miss him. I won’t miss David Brooks.

  56. 56
    Yutsano says:

    @Sarah Proud and Tall: Don’t sweat it hon. I’ve seen more self-awareness in pet rocks.

  57. 57
    slippy says:

    What actual value does David Brooks add to society? Is he worth preserving? Is he even worth paying?

    If every competent person on the planet suddenly died, would David Brooks be able to do even one of their jobs?

    What the fuck use is David Brooks, anyway? I can’t even wipe my ass with his column since I don’t get a paper.

  58. 58
    brantl says:

    Hey, Caz. Go bite yourself.

  59. 59
    Montana says:

    You know what this current crowd of GOP liars want is to turn the United Sates into China, where only a few giant corporations run things, they own the factories, the apartments, the grocery stores, the gas stations, the newspaper and magazine publications, the radio stations, the television stations and you pay them and they get all the benefits, and if you do not like it go jump off cliff. Well some Chinese workers seeing that as individuals that they cannot progress have done just that by committing suicide.

    The current crowd of GOP liars want to steal Medicare from the elderly, they want to abolish a woman’s right to choose and have control over her own body, they want to abolish collective bargaining rights for our Unions, and on top of it all they want to blame the poor, the middle class and the public sector workers for a recession that the GOP created (Thanks to the Dullard “W”), while their beloved “Fat cats” continue to pay themselves exorbitant salaries, bonuses, fringe benefits.

    The GOP is like the “Chicken Littles” always saying that the “Sky is Falling”, like the same ones that were the “Chicken Hawks” (“W” Wars), big talk no courage.

    The United States, favors creativity wherever it can be found. We’re apostles of prosperity and defenders of the free exchange of ideas and when more people in more countries are free to rise, to invent, to communicate, to dissent, it’s not the doom of United States leadership, its the triumph of the American way.

    Generations have worked hard and sacrificed much for the country to reach this point (individuals and our Unions that represented our poor, the middle class and public sector workers), and with further hard work and sacrifice (along with our relentless self-doubt) the United States will rise again, we do not tire and we are coming back, no matter what Fox news and their GOP “Chicken Littles” lackies keep saying about our nation. The win in New York was the beginning but the next will be Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and later the other states of our nation, Never Bet Against the United States, watch out GOP, we are coming for you!

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