Real Americans Suffer In Silence

And if you thought Bill Keller’s take on OWS completely missed the point, we have David Brooks making Keller look like Nostradamus.

If, in the 1960s, you had tried to judge America by looking at the sit-ins and Woodstock, you would have had a very distorted picture of where the country was heading. You wouldn’t have been able to predict that Richard Nixon would win the youth vote in 1972, which he did. You wouldn’t have been able to predict that Republicans would go on to win four out of the next five presidential elections, a streak only interrupted by Jimmy Carter, who ran as a conservative Democrat.

Similarly, if you look only at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements that have been getting so much coverage in the news media, you know very little about the wider America. Most Americans seem to understand this. According to data from the Pew Research Center, they are paying less attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement than any other major story — less than Afghanistan, Amanda Knox, the 2012 election, the death of Steve Jobs and far, far less than news about the economy.

While the cameras surround the flamboyant fringes, the rest of the country is on a different mission. Quietly and untelegenically, Americans are trying to repair their economic values.

The salt of the Earth, rock-ribbed masses are embracing austerity and reaffirming their role as doormats for the wealthy, apparently.  The meek shall inherit the Earth, well after the people with the money and the megaphones get done pillaging anything and everything of worth from it.  Not only does Brooks dismiss the Occupy Together protesters in cities across the country, he then assumes people are angry because government’s spending too much and that people want tax cuts for our precious tax creators and cuts to the social safety net that supports them.

How dare, Brooks says, do these Dirty Effing Hippies demand anything and seek to lift their noses from the grindstone that has eroded household income to 1996 levels.  Banks cutting credit limits and charging more fees, energy and food prices rising due to commodity speculation, the wealth gap growing yearly?  Tighten your belts like the Puritan strain you are and accept it.  Real Americans in Bobo’s world ignore OWS and get back to work.  Those with jobs, anyway.

Most of all, Real Americans fanatically embrace centrism and austerity to protect our nation’s greatest resource, the job creators.  Trickle-down serfdom is all the rage where Brooks is.  After all, we’ve been there for over three decades.  Why would the silly masses actually want anything more in a country where the wealthiest 400 individuals have more than the bottom 50% combined, and banks continue to report billions in profit this week after taking hundreds of billions in taxpayer loans?

The Divine Right of Job Creators, indeed.  Real Americans suffer in silence, apparently.

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120 replies
  1. 1
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    Yeah, when Brooks looks out his virtual window at the NY Times, he only sees the protests going on in New York. Of course they’re not protesting anywhere else: He can’t see them.

  2. 2
    Ash Can says:

    David Brooks would be in a world of trouble if he ever lost his NYT job. Another employer would likely make him take a drug test before hiring him.

  3. 3
    geg6 says:

    I didn’t know it was possible to have more hate for that kitten skull-fucker than I already had, but Bobo has managed to top that bar by a mile. Not only is this the biggest piece of bullshit wishful thinking (don’t have time to link, but read just this weekend that a majority of Americans were aware of OWS/We Are the 99% and a plurality understood their message and agreed with it) but it’s not even original.

    If I were Jokeline, I’d sue for plagiarism. Sounds pretty much like exactly the same thing Klein just wrote for TIME. Surely there wouldn’t be any collusion to create/sustain a meme among the Villagers or anything…

  4. 4
    The Moar You Know says:

    I look forward to using Brooks’ head as a golf ball after the apocalypse.

  5. 5
    Baud says:

    Similarly, if you look only at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements that have been getting so much coverage in the news media, you know very little about the wider America.

    I actually agree with this in the abstract, although one could just as easily have said:

    Similarly, if you look only at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements David Brooks columns that have been getting so too much coverage in the news media, you know very little about the wider America.

    In my view, elections do matter and I hate when people deemphasize them. If the GOP sweeps in 2012, OWS will be nothing but a nice story some grandparents will get to tell their grandchildren some day.

  6. 6
    jibeaux says:

    I know, water is wet, David Brooks is an idiot, but srsly. Americans have already tightened their damn belts. THIS IS WHAT COMES AFTER, WHEN THE BELT TIGHTENING ISN’T FUCKING ENOUGH.

  7. 7
    maya says:

    The “Puritan strain” in America used to unwind from a hard day’s work by hanging Quakers* who refused to doff their hats to them. Even they knew how to have fun once in awhile.

    * Mormons hadn’t been invented yet.

  8. 8
    RossInDetroit says:

    if you look only at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements that have been getting so much coverage in the news media, you know very little about the wider America.

    This is an arbitrary constraint applied to make Brooks’ argument easy to win. Americans are certainly aware of far more than these two political movements. For instance they know about the housing market, the job market, flat wages, the cost of education, etc. All of those personal experiences mean far more to us than what we see on TV, but that doesn’t fit Brooks’ chosen conclusion.

  9. 9
    catclub says:

    @Baud: But at least you would know that Applebees has a salad bar.

    Did anyone else notice the “because government’s spending too much” which was not a possessive but a contraction of “government is”. Interesting generalization. (Or I have had a sheltered life.)

  10. 10
    Kristine says:

    The chattering classes do so hate being forced to think, don’t they? They’ll keep spitting up those tired old memes until their nurses come to wheel them back to their rooms.

  11. 11
    kdaug says:

    I think “the salt of the Earth, rock-ribbed masses” of Bobo are trying to walk back the K-Thug op-ed yesterday. He and the lede editorial were decidedly unBank-friendly.

    Git yer Grrrr on, folks. Lines are being drawn.

  12. 12
    R. Porrofatto says:

    Brooks gets his world view from inside his own head, where the wider America exists as a dancing sugar plum. In this phantasmal universe, Applebee’s has a salad bar, you can’t buy a meal for over $20 in Real America, banksters are job creators, and Americans are trying to repair their economic values— as if we broke ’em ourselves.

  13. 13
    Jasper says:

    “The meek shall inherit the earth….” line reminded me of a song by Matthew Grimm that captures the sentiment a little more starkly.

    “streets of hopeless faces, mortgaged and foreclosed
    downsized to part-time jobs, foresaken by the HMOs
    sucking up the welfare when there’s war to subsidize
    and they won’t just go away if you ask nice

    kill the poor, kill the poor, put a cap right in their brain
    ain’t no room in Utopia for evidence it ain’t
    arm the VPs, arm the soccer moms, declare your holy war
    before the meek claim our inheritance you better kill the poor

  14. 14
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    ccording to data from the Pew Research Center, they are paying less attention to the Occupy Wall Street movement than any other major story — less than Afghanistan, Amanda Knox, the 2012 election, the death of Steve Jobs and far, far less than news about the economy.

    Stupid motherfucker, that study is about what shows up in the fucking MEDIA, not what people are interested in. And the media will always parrot the maunderings of the fucking castle lords.

    Fucking Lannisters.

  15. 15
    rikryah says:

    people like you read that mofo so I don’t have to.

  16. 16
    Mark S. says:

    Some economists say the government should be spending more now to stimulate a recovery. Thirty-eight percent of Americans seem to agree with that. But 56 percent have said “government spending when the government is already running a deficit is the wrong approach during an economic downturn because it is only a temporary solution that increases long-term debt.”

    56% of Americans agree with a leading answer to a poll question. Majorities also thought that defaulting on the debt would be a good idea, but I don’t remember Bobo touting that as the wisdom of Real Americans.

    This is the second worst Bobo column until he writes another one (I don’t think anything will ever top his column after the Haiti earthquake).

  17. 17
    RossInDetroit says:

    @R. Porrofatto:

    Americans are trying to repair their economic values—as if we broke ‘em ourselves.

    Good catch. Actually household deleveraging (paying down debt instead of purchasing) is making the recession worse. In order for individuals to contribute to stimulating the economy they would have to borrow and spend more. This would be collectively beneficial but individually risky. Conservative personal habits on Main Street are exacerbating the recession that reckless speculation on Wall Street caused.
    Chew on that, Brooks.

  18. 18
    Samara Morgan says:

    i wunner what Thom Jefferson thinks of the Noble Yeoman Farmers naow.

    not so noble?

  19. 19
    wilfred says:

    Just a shot across the bow – if this movement holds tough, many more will follow.

    They will take the form of suggesting that the movement is controlled by any one of a host of already ostracized political outsiders whose ‘power’ can be seen in the inclusion of political objectives not consistent with the framing that is already taking place. That framing is already present in the form of whatever image you have of the typical OWS person, i.e. his or her political orientation, social class, etc. Anything outside of that will be considered abnormal and thus radical.

    It’s what happened in Egytp.

  20. 20
    c u n d gulag says:

    This is a typical Bobo column, where Brooks takes the pulse of America by taking his own pulse.

    Lately, it seems like he takes clueless and insipid to new levels.

    Thank you NY Times!

  21. 21
    jrg says:

    One of my FB acquaintances is, like, totally against OWS because “ZOMG soci1ism”!

    Some people are profoundly stupid, and as such, deserve to get screwed over… Hard and repeatedly, until they wake the fuck up. It’s too bad the rest of us have to get screwed, also.

  22. 22
    Paul in KY says:

    @The Moar You Know: I look forward to the process of removing his head for golfing duty.

  23. 23
    Mike Goetz says:

    Anybody else catch our own Angry Black Lady in Politico today?

    Apparently, the Obama-bot/emoprog Twitter flame war is some sort of thing now, according to Ben Smith.

  24. 24
    jwb says:

    I prefer to read Bobo’s column as a symptom: if this is the best poll-tested line of attack that the establishment can come up with on OWS, they are losing and losing badly.

  25. 25
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko: Where did you get that one? I wrote a DK post about the presidential candidate coverage, and I would like to add information about that as well.

  26. 26
    Mike Goetz says:

    The yeoman farmers all turned into Federal teat-suckers long ago.

  27. 27
    Mike Goetz says:

    Democratic pollster Doug Shoen thinks the Dems should stay far away from OWS, because they believe in radical wealth redistribution, civil disobedience and violence.

    Shoen is a partner of Mark Penn.

  28. 28
    The Republic of Stupidity says:

    … if you look only at the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements…

    Nice false equivalency here, on Brooksie’s part…

  29. 29
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Mike Goetz: lol!
    naw, they turned into teabaggers. Real Murrikkka.
    white christian nativists….movement conservatism is the technical description.
    Distributed Jesusland is my term for them…the 2008 Jesusland map minus the cities.

  30. 30
    El Cid says:

    I guess, then, it’s a great thing that all the biggest decisions are made by the vast majority, instead of by some smaller number, like some imagined tiny groupings centered around their connection to great wealth.

    That would be un-American.

    In the 1910s, you would hardly have predicted the fighting in Guadalcanal, but you wouldn’t know this if you were mainly reading soshullist publications. This is truly relevant, because I is amateur sosholgist.

  31. 31
    Ed in NJ says:

    @Mike Goetz:

    Doug Schoen, Fox News analyst and corporate PR flack.

    I read this yesterday and my immediate thought was that Democrats should do the exact opposite of whatever he says.

  32. 32
    Culture of Truth says:

    While the cameras surround the flamboyant fringes, the rest of the country is on a different mission.

    And yet what is David Brooks writing about? OWS. Tells you all you need to know.

  33. 33
    jl says:

    Thanks to commenters for spotting enough fatal errors in the Brooks column so I don’t have to read the thing.

    And thanks, commenter Ivan for spotting the the conveniently sloppy interpretation (Edit; should have said misinterpretation, typing misrepresentation would be uncivil, though) of his key piece of evidence

    But from the excerpt, I liked this bit:
    “and far, far less than news about the economy.”

    You could make the argument that more attention people pay to the economy, or maybe more accurately, the more attention people are forced to pay to the economy because they can’t find jobs, can’t pay their bills, owe more on their house than its worth, and the damage to neighborhoods increases as foreclosures pick up, the more likely people are to pay attention to OWS.

    BTW, I heard that Lech Walesa is planning to visit OWS. That true? If so, anyone know when?

    I will surely pay attention that that visit, if it happens. Will be interesting to know what he says, and the VSP reaction, if any.

    The guy is nearly 70, right? Wonder if he is in shape to do another sit down again for awhile? If he is and does, he would be a great outside agitator to spend a few nights with OWS. Probably won’t happen, but would be interesting. The VSP could not ignore that.

  34. 34
    Mike Goetz says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    Yep, teabaggers of the “keep your government hands of my Ag subsidies” stripe.

    Or as Gene Wilder would say: “What did you expect? “Welcome, sonny”? “Make yourself at home”? “Marry my daughter”? You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the new West. You know… morons.”

  35. 35

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko: Fucking Lannisters

    Dear Bobo: Winter is coming.

  36. 36
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @Ivan Ivanovich Renko: Data also shows that blonde young women disappearing in exotic places gets far more interest than protests of any kind.

    We should therefore transform ourselves into a tablocracy, and just tally supermarket checkout newsstand sales instead of votes.

    No matter how much you lower the salad bar, David Brooks manages to slither under it.

  37. 37
    vtr says:

    Actually, Brooks, to me, seems perceptive compared to the word string assembled by Anne Applebaum in the Post this morning. She apparently has been spending lots of time not paying attention to what’s going on. Why are these people employed?

  38. 38
    beltane says:

    By the time David Brooks becomes acquainted with “wider America” it will be too late for it to do him any good, the pitchfork will already be embedded in his ass.

  39. 39
    Ben Cisco says:

    Brooksie and his ilk are nothing more than human chaff/flare dispensers. The sooner people figure that out, the better.
    OT: MourningJoe got his ass handed to him (Again? How many asses does he have, anyway?) by Axelrod today.

  40. 40
    Yevgraf says:

    I want to, once again, point out that the problem isn’t so much the ruralities – which are far from monolithic in their ideology – but instead, the problem is the grotesquely sprawled, tax and scale economy subsidized exurbs full of bootstrapped megachurch congregants.

    These are the guys who live outside Nashville, Atlanta, Charlotte, Dallas, Houston, Tampa, JAX, Orlando and the like. They sprawl at the expense of the urban residents they hate, then sell their services (finance, insurance, real estate), surviving like ticks on their host.

    In the ruralities, they don’t get all upset over the protrayal of naughty bits or the ugliness that life sometimes affords, because they work with livestock and have to genuinely cooperate with their communities. Your average exurban teatard is so bootstrapped, he can go years without meeting his cross-the-street neighbor, all while using voting strength to force evil city hippies and negroes to subsidize his trip to his outsized McMansion lot and the utilities to make it comfortable.

  41. 41
    ChrisNYC says:

    I don’t think Brooks is really saying as much as you think he is. I despise him. Don’t read him or any of the other Times op/eds.

    BUT, there’s no reason to go along with his slant — that the facts that he’s talking about are in opposition to OWS or somehow antagonistic to OWS. For example, less personal debt (and Americans have reduced debt in the last two years at an amazingly high rate) does reduce vulnerability, constraint, etc. That’s a good thing and it’s a solid anti-materialistic liberal value. No reason to let the other side co-opt it just because Brooks presents it as somehow anathema to OWS.

  42. 42
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @The Moar You Know:

    The PGA will have problems with that. It’s too small to fit on a tee.

  43. 43
    Paul in KY says:

    @vtr: Ms. Appelbaum is paid very well (and earns it, I think) not to pay attention to what’s going on & to try & get her poor readers to not pay attention either.

    She sometimes makes me nostalgic for Micheal Kelly (not very often, though).

  44. 44
    Paul in KY says:

    @Yevgraf: They infest the East side of Jefferson County too.

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:


    Why are these people employed?

    Their word salads are pleasing to the Galtian Overlords.

  46. 46
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Yevgraf: its all still Distributed Jesusland. white (non-hispanic cauc) christians.

    and they are going crazy because they are going to lose their power.
    demographics is destiny.

  47. 47
    wilfred says:

    Chris Hedges is one of the few American journalists to have ever spoken truth to power – that’s why he left the Times. Why not post his stuff instead of Brooks’? I also miss the point of constantly referring to a known asshole at the the ur-establishment paper of record.

  48. 48
    slag says:

    Can some of the OWS people Occupy David Brooks’s Office for a while? He doesn’t seem to have a clue. Maybe they can give him one.

  49. 49
    catclub says:

    @vtr: “Why are these people employed?”
    It would be too dangerous to leave them on the loose?
    In my fantasy world the NYT is protecting us from these zombies by keeping them corralled. But that would imply the Grey Lady has some moral compass … so fantasy.

  50. 50
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike Goetz:

    It amazes me that anyone as obviously incompetent as Mark Penn can get a job as a political consultant. That goes for anyone associated with him as well.

  51. 51
    handsmile says:

    There are many reasons to despise David Brooks. Principally for me, it is that this urban-raised and residing (Toronto, New York, Chicago, Washington), elite-educated (A.B. History, U.Chicago) journalist considers himself both a Tribune for and Solon of middle-class Middle America.

    This is a man whose entire professional career, which began at Reverend Moon’s Washington Times, has been devoted to fealty of the social and economic elites of this country. His “non-fiction” books, such as “Bobos in Paradise” and especially “The Social Animal” make plain his class allegiances.

    Yet in both his NYT columns and PBS appearances his employers permit him to maintain this persona of someone with penetrating insight into the mind and mores of “Real Americans” because of his years of lived experience among them. It is disgusting that this pompous, vastly well-compensated fraud gets to chide his readers and viewers that they are the ones who “know very little about the wider America.”

    At least Tom Friedman does not pretend that he sits up in front with the cab drivers who provide him with such worldly wisdom.

  52. 52
    Keith says:

    To me, Brooks will always be that guy whose only reaction to a senator feeling him up is to think to himself “This is creepy.”

  53. 53
    kindness says:

    I won’t say that David Brooks would be the first I would drag before the guillotine….but I suspect he would be in that line.

  54. 54
    BGinCHI says:

    Quietly and untelegenically, Americans are trying to repair their economic values.

    Trying to repair their economic values??

    Am I actually reading that? Does this mean that Brooks thinks people are in homes/condos that are under water, without jobs, with decaying infrastructure, half the political system completely insane, the media abandoned to status quo transcribers, and they are fretting over their VALUES?

    Fuck you David Brooks, who has NEVER lived anywhere like everyday America. Who has never struggled, never felt the fear of losing everything.

    Goddamn these people.

  55. 55
    wilfred says:

    Is it really so fucking difficult to figure out why the Demcoratic party should stay away from OWS? Here, at some point, somebody, some politician is going to have to say that he or she will not take one fucking cent of Wall Street money. That’s it. You want credibility, say it.

    Is Schumer or Gillibrand going to say that? If a politican is not ready to do that, then he or she is NOT with OWS.

    That’s it. The only way the movement can influence politics is by staying away from politicans that have been co-opted by Wall Street – which basically includes everyone. If a politician wants credibility, piss on Wall Street money and its pimps.

    Until then, shut the fuck up.

  56. 56
    Yevgraf says:

    @Paul in KY:

    They infest the East side of Jefferson County too.

    Oh yeah.

    an amusing tale – I was having a lunch with a mortgage originator back in the summer of 2007, and he related an interesting conversation with a regulator from the Department of Financial Institutions. According to her at the time, they were seeing an alarming cluster of delinquencies and defaults in one really defined area, and she made him play a guessing game. He went through the list of usual suspects – West End, Fairdale, Germantown, Newburg – and she said “nope” to all of them. The culprits, it seemed, were Alt-A papers in Lake Forest. In 2007. According to her, over 90 tracts were in delinquency or default, and the regulators were scratching their heads in confusion at the time.

    It was my personal forewarning of the crisis.

  57. 57
    handsmile says:

    @jwb: (#24)

    Also too, I thought your comment was spot-on.

    On one of yesterday’s OWS threads, I wrote:

    Having failed in its effort to dismiss “Occupy Wall Street” as but the latest episode of street theater among DFHs and the chronically malcontent, the corporate media must rethink how to discredit the movement. Expect to see more stories “raising questions” about protest funding, organizational links to suspect groups, and allegations of fractures within OWS leadership. Another tactic may simply be to devote less and less coverage to the protests….

    Today’s columns by Brooks and Appelbaum (as well as Bill Keller’s comment on Sunday) demonstrate how uneasy the elite opinion-mongers of the Village have become with the burgeoning success of the OWS movement. In the face of broad public approval of the protesters’ objectives, reinforced rhetorical artillery must be deployed.

  58. 58
    Rafer Janders says:

    This, to me, was the worst part:

    Many economists say the cutback in consumption will hurt the economy in the short run. But, according to the Heartland Monitor poll, 61 percent of Americans said the decline in consumption would “help the economy as it would create more savings that could be invested to create or expand business.” Some economists say the government should be spending more now to stimulate a recovery. Thirty-eight percent of Americans seem to agree with that. But 56 percent have said “government spending when the government is already running a deficit is the wrong approach during an economic downturn because it is only a temporary solution that increases long-term debt.”

    So, on the one hand, views of experts in a complicated and technical field requiring years of study. On the other hand, the views of a random assortment of people who quite understandably don’t know much about the complicated and technical subject. Fuck expertise, who cares, man, if it feels right, do it….

  59. 59

    Just because David Brooks masturbates to pictures of Richard Nixon doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, does it?

  60. 60
    lamh34 says:

    OT, but I kinda loved this response to Joe Scar on Morning Joke that Axelrod gave thus morning:

    “Maybe you should go ask Osama Bin Laden if he thought he was prepared.”

    — David Axelrod, on Morning Joe, pushing back against the charge Barack Obama was ill prepared to be president.

  61. 61
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    @handsmile: You know what would be great would be a two-man play in which Brooks and Friedman talk only to each other for an entire evening. It would be like Waiting for Godot without the self-awareness.

    We must wait.

    For whom?

    The common man!

    (They claim him as an acquaintance but in fact hardly know him, admitting that they would not recognise him were they to see him.”)

  62. 62
    Rafer Janders says:

    Many economists say the cutback in consumption will hurt the economy in the short run. But, according to the Heartland Monitor poll, 61 percent of Americans said the decline in consumption would “help the economy as it would create more savings that could be invested to create or expand business.” Some economists say the government should be spending more now to stimulate a recovery. Thirty-eight percent of Americans seem to agree with that. But 56 percent have said “government spending when the government is already running a deficit is the wrong approach during an economic downturn because it is only a temporary solution that increases long-term debt.”

    Many scientists say the Earth is billions of years old. But, according to the Heartland Monitor poll, 61 percent of Americans said the God “created the Earth about 8,000 years ago.” Some scientists say Darwinian evolution provides the best explanation for life on Earth. Thirty-eight percent of Americans seem to agree with that. But 56 percent have said “creationism is also a valid theory and life arose when God made Adam and Eve.”

  63. 63
    sparky says:

    @wilfred:what would a thread here look like after a Hedges bit like this from 2009?

    Barack Obama is a brand. And the Obama brand is designed to make us feel good about our government while corporate overlords loot the Treasury, our elected officials continue to have their palms greased by armies of corporate lobbyists, our corporate media diverts us with gossip and trivia and our imperial wars expand in the Middle East. Brand Obama is about being happy consumers. We are entertained. We feel hopeful. We like our president. We believe he is like us. But like all branded products spun out from the manipulative world of corporate advertising, we are being duped into doing and supporting a lot of things that are not in our interest.
    What, for all our faith and hope, has the Obama brand given us? His administration has spent, lent or guaranteed $12.8 trillion in taxpayer dollars to Wall Street and insolvent banks in a doomed effort to reinflate the bubble economy, a tactic that at best forestalls catastrophe and will leave us broke in a time of profound crisis. Brand Obama has allocated nearly $1 trillion in defense-related spending and the continuation of our doomed imperial projects in Iraq, where military planners now estimate that 70,000 troops will remain for the next 15 to 20 years. Brand Obama has expanded the war in Afghanistan, including the use of drones sent on cross-border bombing runs into Pakistan that have doubled the number of civilians killed over the past three months. Brand Obama has refused to ease restrictions so workers can organize and will not consider single-payer, not-for-profit health care for all Americans. And Brand Obama will not prosecute the Bush administration for war crimes, including the use of torture, and has refused to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus.

  64. 64
    JPL says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur: Doesn’t mean he’s a good person. I assumed he had a picture of Ayn Rand in his bedroom.

  65. 65
    joes527 says:

    @Cris (without an H):

    Dear Bobo: Winter is coming.

    yeah yeah yeah. I’ll believe that when the next book gets published and the surprise ending isn’t that it is going to take 2 more books to get through what he planned to get through in the book you just read.

    Replace the Friedman Unit with the Martin Unit and you pretty much see where the series is going.

  66. 66
    ed drone says:

    To quote from a new song:

    The One-Percenters at the top,
    With greed their only aim,
    Have done their best to hide the way
    They’ve played their selfish game.
    So secretly they’ve tweaked the rules,
    To keep us in the dark;
    But now we’re waking from our sleep,
    And gathering in the park.

    From Wall Street home to Main Street, shout loud the clear refrain:
    “They’ve socialized the losses, and privatized the gains!”

    ©2011 Annie Storr & Bob Clayton

    The whole song:


  67. 67
    wilfred says:

    Well, Chris Hedges is not writing for people here – he’s writing about people there – the people in the OWS movement.

    If you don’t like it, if it offends your sensibilities and narrative, then don’t quote him. If you want to regurgitate the same shit that confirms what you already believe, go ahead. But Chris Hedges is closer to what’s going on then David Brooks is.

    OWS is outside the narrative. So is Chris Hedges.

  68. 68
    piratedan says:

    @joes527: it’s a better written than Wheel Of Time (at least the characters are more diverse imho) and it should keep Peter Dinklage employed for a few more years thankfully.

  69. 69
    sparky says:

    @wilfred: sorry, i wasn’t clear. i happen to agree with Hedges on pretty much everything including the quote i posted. i was just engaging in a thought experiment–i would think that view would generate a lot of flaming here. but perhaps that would be a good thing, if it got people to consider a different perspective.

  70. 70
    Raenelle says:

    On the question of stupid or evil that so befuddles us most of the time, I think the answer is now in on David Brooks. Evil. He damn well knows that most Americans sympathize with the protests aimed at Wall Street. That’s not stupid. He knows it. He’s up to something else here. What he’s trying to do is divide. Same thing as Nixon did–the silent majority. Problem for Brooks is that there really was a silent majority to be exploited by anti-reform zealots back then. Now, not so much, though there are still those cultural differences they can trot out to ease currently sane people back to defending Wall Street.

    But with Brooks. He knows what he’s saying is crap. He’s writing that BS to discredit OWS and divide the opposition to Wall Street crimes.

  71. 71
    jl says:

    Commenter above mentioned that we should admit (agree?) with Brooks that increased savings rate is a good thing.

    OK, I agree.

    Problem is that then Brooks does not discuss the potential problems with most ordinary income people trying to increase total savings in the middle of a weak economy. If you are a Keynesian, the two are inconsistent. Government spending needs to temporarily borrow more (Edit: originally I wrote ‘lend’ by mistake) in order to maintain spending for recovery. If you are not a Keynesian, it is a problem because the resulting economy with no government spending will lead to popular dissatisfaction, since path of their incomes will be lower. (Edit: in a classical model, the lower income path might be ‘optimal’ in some sense, but that doesn’t mean people will say they like it)

    But as some commenters above show, Brooks goes on to mix and match economic policy analysis with opinion polling to get the answer he wants.

    So, yeah, Brooks makes one good point, in the middle of an overall argument that is not overly careful about the facts (peddling a media analysis as a reflection of popular interest), or even making any sense (mixing up working through different economic models with ‘what the people say’)

    A mess. If only I had more confidence it is an honest mess.

  72. 72
    sparky says:

    incidentally, i think this post ought to have discussed the intent of the Brooks piece rather than what might be implied condescension. i read the piece as an effort to co-opt (edit: discredit?) the OWS-liberated energy by saying, in effect, that (edit: the “fringe”) OWS is not necessary because people are already fixing the problems. i don’t care for anything Brooks writes but i think people underestimate his ability to spin out a superficially plausible alternative narrative of progress that magically never disturbs the status quo.

  73. 73
    Zandar says:

    The millisecond I see one of the 1% asshole compare all this to Song Of Ice And Fire with the headline “We need Tywin Lannister” from McMegan or Conor or the Reasonoids, there will be blood.

    Millions of blood.

  74. 74
    RSA says:

    David Brooks just makes me mad.

    This values restoration is reshaping the way Americans see the world around them. Many economists say the cutback in consumption will hurt the economy in the short run. But, according to the Heartland Monitor poll, 61 percent of Americans said the decline in consumption would “help the economy as it would create more savings that could be invested to create or expand business.” Some economists say the government should be spending more now to stimulate a recovery. Thirty-eight percent of Americans seem to agree with that. But 56 percent have said “government spending when the government is already running a deficit is the wrong approach during an economic downturn because it is only a temporary solution that increases long-term debt.”

    We’re talking about the $15 trillion economy of the U.S., a quarter of the global economy, and Brooks thinks that polls of the public are a better guide about what to do than the views of professional economists.

    And yet his faux populism has never extended to acknowledging that a similar majority of the American public would like to raise taxes on the rich. In fact, he’s argued that that’s the wrong thing to do.

    How convenient.

  75. 75
    jl says:

    If the VSP people are trying a ‘silent majority’ flying wedge play, that might not work this time.

    That was then and this is now.

    Did seniors, all American union members, close to one third of homeowners back then imagine they would be thrown out of the boat with the DFH’s as soon as it became politically convenient? I don’t think so.

    History has happened, and there might be a big ‘been there done that’ factor among the public.

    Some, who have been lucky will still fall for the trick, but fewer than before. The proportions who have wised up, versus who have not, will make the difference I guess.

    I think the VSP are trying and old act on an old audience. I hope I am right.

  76. 76
    handsmile says:

    Bill E Pilgrim (#61):

    Sadly, that play already makes regular appearances on such stages as Davos, the Aspen Institute and public forums here in New York City, where their fellow worthies can afford to pay for the privilege.

    The production of Waiting for Godot that I’d like to see is one in which Brooks and Friedman alternate evenings in the role of Lucky. An audience member is chosen to portray Pozzo and gets to drag Lucky around the stage with a rope.

    Rafer Janders (#62):

    He shoots….he scores! Brilliant!

  77. 77
    Larkspur says:

    Well, I’ll say one thing for Bobo: he inspires some pretty incisive comments. I guess that’s why the only “highlighted” comments are tepid or kind of supportive, and why comments are now closed.

  78. 78
    Paul in KY says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: He must have some very creatively worded brochures.

  79. 79
    Judas Escargot says:


    Trying to repair their economic values??

    I realized some time ago that conservatives use the word “values” to describe anything they believe that can’t be substantiated, argued for, or otherwise proven (or, as we generally like to refer to it out here in the trenches, “Bullshit”).

  80. 80
    jl says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    Great idea. Could alternate with Endgame. The oldster VSP could play Nagg and Nell. Erickson and Douthat (sp?) could play the leads. I’d buy a ticket just to get the program, if it had the right pix.

  81. 81
    Judas Escargot says:

    @The Ancient Randonneur:

    Just because David Brooks masturbates to pictures of Richard Nixon doesn’t mean he’s a bad person, does it?

    No, but that weird ‘Dirty Sanchez’ motion he makes on the photo whenever he finishes does make me question his values.

  82. 82
    gogol's wife says:

    Somewhat OT, but I’m still fuming about the Times’s article on Obama’s speech at the MLK memorial. Helene Cooper, who seems to have a personal animus against Obama (therefore the perfect reporter to assign to him), seems to have wandered through the crowd until she could find someone who didn’t like the speech because it “didn’t go far enough.” What was he supposed to do, give Cleavon Little’s speech from “Blazing Saddles”? I am so, so sick of them. But shame on me for breaking my rule of never reading anything they write about Obama.

  83. 83
    MTiffany says:

    Amazing news from world of science! Something less substantial than a perfect vacuum discovered: David Brooks’ writing.

  84. 84
    Paul in KY says:

    @Yevgraf: Ha, ha. They did go thru all the usual suspects there.

    My cousin would mow yards for people with big tracts of land, upon which their mighty homes stood. He said that several times the house would have no furniture in it, but a chair & a TV.

  85. 85
    DanielX says:

    What would David Brooks know about the concerns of the “average American”, assuming there is such a critter out there? I can’t say I know this for a fact, but it’s a safe bet that Brooks’ own annual income over the last ten years has been in the low to mid six figures. Meaning that by definition he knows diddlyshit about the day-to-day problems of “average Americans”. It’s not something that you can learn about by going out on a road trip every six months like you’re visiting the fucking zoo, either.

    But hey, because it’s David Fucking Brooks, it must be reasonable (and Serious, musn’t forget that), right? I confess to a certain amount of reluctant admiration for him, kind of like admiring Bernie Madoff – he has made a lucrative career out of sounding like an authority on topics about which he knows nothing.

  86. 86
    scav says:

    err, I’m still trying to muddle these thoughts into a coherency. But the gheist seems semi-solid although still seen though some ground fog. I think a certain Some (needs better character name) were rather counting on, if not fostering, this economic angst and were going to ride it to political power (overt or behind the curtain with the strings). They counted on it; they needed it; it was theirs. Only this movement, unlike the tricorn-and-fife-and-lawn-chair brigades, doesn’t seem to respond to control as well (not that the hatted ones were exactly docile and house-broken) but, probably more importantly, don’t fit and serve the advertising and narrative arc as well. Whoops, vocal populism must be abandoned, ah-OO-ga, a-OO-ga! “Drop the mass-movements in toto! Back to the stoic eating your grandkid and seedcorn in solumn dignity ethos and depiction of the majority!” The realio-trulio ‘mercans seem to always uncannily mirror what Brooks et. al. need. I somehow do think there is a bit of unease at what Frankenstein may have emerged from the economic downturn that was supposed to fuel the ouster of the sitting president as per usual. This beast may or may not be going where they expected it to.

  87. 87
    Paul in KY says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim: I’d rather watch ‘Springtime for Hitler’, as done in whatever language Laplanders speak.

  88. 88
    handy says:


    It’s not something that you can learn about by going out on a road trip every six months like you’re visiting the fucking zoo, either.

    Yes but I hear it is something you can learn about by hanging out at the Applebee’s salad bar.

  89. 89
    BGinCHI says:

    @jl: You all have the wrong play.

    Bobo is totally Krapp’s Last Tape.

    Let me rephrase.

    He is literally Krapp’s Last Tape.

  90. 90
    MTiffany says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    What was he supposed to do, give Cleavon Little’s speech from “Blazing Saddles”?

    And if you will all turn your hymals to page 69, we will sing “Now is a time of great decision.”

  91. 91
    ChrisNYC says:

    @jl: I was the commenter. I don’t think Brooks made ANY good points. The thing about the reduction in personal debt is a fact — it’s not Brooks’ idea. My beef is that the post basically takes the frame offered — that OWS is antithetical to “real Americans.” Brooks is pulling out the faulty “silent majority” thing. It’s a false dichotomy. People can protest and people can reduce debt. Those two things are actually not in opposition. Brooks wants them to be. But liberals should not take that bait.

    As far as econ policy, OWS hasn’t embraced anything as yet so I don’t think Brooks is really addressing/vilifying them on that score. Seems to me what he’s trying to do is say, “These people are fringe and real Americans reject them.” Nothing he writes supports that and I don’t know why that dichotomy is unquestioningly accepted — as it is, if the liberal rejoinder is “people who are not protesting are reaffirming their role as doormats.” Again and again, I feel like liberals respond to labels put on them from opponents not by challenging the label (by arguing, for example, “OWS is not fringe”) but by embracing it regardless of the consequences (here, that turns into “yes we are a small group and anyone who’s concentrated on reducing their personal debt, rather than marching is a doormat”). I just think it’s both bad strategy and undermines the 99% idea completely.

  92. 92
    slag says:

    @MTiffany: Very nice!

    I remember Ezra Klein once posting a video of David Brooks talking, and I suggested that next time he post a video of kittens riding a Roomba instead. Some vacuums have more value than others.

  93. 93
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    on 1 July 1971, the Twenty-sixth Amendment extended a guarantee of suffrage to anyone 18 years or older in all states

    What youth voted for Nixon? Brooks was not paying attention or was sedated in 1972.

  94. 94
    Emma says:

    The nice thing is that a majority of his commenters have been handing him his behind in a polite and reasoned way. I wonder if he ever reads his own comment…. oh never mind. Why would he sully his beautiful mind?

  95. 95
    ChrisNYC says:

    @Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937: Nixon won every age group in 1972. He said he’d end the war, was always my understanding of that.

  96. 96
    Anoniminous says:

    Brooksie is pissed because the Tea Party, after tens of millions of dollars of publicity, could only get tens or hundreds on the street.

    OWS used the internet and has gotten tens of thousands into the streets.

    Tea Party: the greater the media attention, the less support they got.

    OWS: the greater the media attention, the more support they have gotten.

    One could go on to reach the inevitable contrast:

    Tea Party: FAIL! (Big Time) Their remaining influence is their potential to turn the 2012 presidential primary into a GOP faction fight.

    OWS: To Be Decided. This could dwindle into ill-relevance. It could be the start of a generally populist movement to enforce change.

    Watch this space.

  97. 97
    jl says:

    @ChrisNYC: thanks. Didn’t mean to misrepresent your point.

  98. 98
    Anoniminous says:

    BTW: Co-Founder of the Tea Party, Karl Denninger, is saying, to anyone that will listen:

    Tea Party my ass. This was nothing other than the Republican Party stealing the anger of a population that was fed up with the Republican Party’s own theft of their tax money at gunpoint to bail out the robbers of Wall Street and fraudulently redirecting it back toward electing the very people who stole all the **ing money!

    There’s plenty of policy separations between the Right Wing and Left Wing of the … call it … New Populist Movement. There’s more commonality, more agreement, on What Is Wrong (analysis) and a wide overlap on What To Do About It (policy.) As of yet, these two branches have yet to figure that out.

    IF they do, there will be hell to pay if you are the 1% or one of their toadies, tickbirds, or lick-spittles.

  99. 99
    ChrisNYC says:

    @jl: No prob. I can see where it wasn’t clearly made.

  100. 100
    Bnad says:

    @jl: Looking forward to the media rebranding Walesa as an evil commie rabble rouser without a hint of irony.
    On another note, this week’s Tom Tomorrow cartoon looks like it was made in direct response to Brooks’s column.

  101. 101
    PWL says:

    There must have been a David Brooks saying the same thing back in the 1890s, when the progressives started to take on the Gilded Age robber barons…and a David Brooks spouting the same pablum in the 1930s, when people finally had enough of that time’s Masters of the Universe crashing the economy and crushing them.

    Lapdogs of the power elite like David Brooks never have a clue as to what’s really going on…until they are overtaken and swept aside by events.

  102. 102
    slag says:

    @Bnad: Not bad. Though, honestly, the best part of that cartoon was the first shot taken at the hand:

    If you’re invisible, why are your flaws so readily apparent.

    It smacks of a thought experiment I once encountered:

    If a free marketer helps create an economic crisis, does Mr. T still pity him?

    …or maybe I’m mixing up my thought experiments.

  103. 103
    harlana says:

    Real Americans suffer in silence, apparently.

    I had come to believe this was the collective mindset of the American people, which was depressing as hell. I’m so glad I was wrong. I mean, I know that’s what the 1% wants and all so Brooks thinks it’s just a dandy notion. Christianists, as a whole, have brainwashed their congregations into believing this also (and hence, hand over what little money you do have to the church, thereby securing your place in heaven and all that suffering will be worth it).

  104. 104
    harlana says:

    I just heard on the radio that Eric Cantor is going to give a speech on income inequality in America at some business school. o.O

  105. 105
    Jay C says:

    @Bill E Pilgrim:

    You know what would be great would be a two-man play in which Brooks and Friedman talk only to each other for an entire evening.

    And you could publish the transcript on the New York Times‘ Op-Ed page, and it wouldn’t be any different or worse than what disfigures it now….

  106. 106
    jake the snake says:

    @Mark S.:

    Bobo and the Doughy Pantload wrote the same racist column
    after the Haiti earthquake. I think Bobo’s was even worse than DoughBob’s.

  107. 107
    geg6 says:

    The masterful Charlie Pierce has a fine, fine rant up about this very same subject. I recommend it:

  108. 108
    El Cid says:

    @PWL: Not exactly a direct response, but this cursory search of Time‘s archives finds this from February of 1930.

    These too were people occupying various city halls and such, but much less politely.

    While [Herbert Hoover’s] U. S. Labor Department insisted that employment would be normal in 90 days, Communists stirred hungry, cold, jobless men and women to demonstrations which required no statisticians to interpret. Last week’s samples:
    In Cleveland, with its 40% foreign-born and 65% foreign-blooded, a smartly attired gentleman named Chairman Louis Petrash was presiding over a meeting of the Welfare Committee of the City Council. Before the committee was a letter from the Communist Council of the Unemployed, which demanded immediate relief in money and work for 75,000 jobless Clevelanders.
    Suddenly there was a great shouting and shuffling in City Hall corridors. A tattered mob led by Communists crowded into the high-ceiled, paneled council chamber until it was full. Outside were 2,000 more frenzied demonstrators.
    When police tried to clear the City Hall steps, a dozen men jumped on gigantic Inspector George J. Matowitz. He shook them like rats off his shoulders, shouted orders for more police.
    Mob fists crunched and pummeled. Knives flashed. Fire engines clattered up. Hose lines were connected. The mob was washed away. Behind it was left trampled Sol Jagoda with a broken back, trampled William Lux with a fractured skull, many hats, fragments of clothes, splatters of blood. Inspector Matowitz had had his coat tails torn off. Three policemen were hurt, eight mobsters arrested.
    In Philadelphia, a crowd of 250 marched to City Hall to proclaim:

    “While the manufacturers are reaping huge profits and Mayor Mackey goes on vacation trips, there are 200,000 unemployed workers in the city.”

    Timing their demonstration with the return of Mayor Mackey from the West Indies, they tried to force their way into his office, had a 15-minute tussle with 150 policemen, retreated leaving placards, Communist circulars that warned of a nation[wide?]-unemployment demonstration.
    In Newark, N. J., 400 jobless workers gathered at Headquarters of Trade Unity League (which had published the circulars scattered in Philadelphia’s City Hall plaza). There they heard President Hoover described as “the lackey of Wall Street… J. P. Morgan’s office boy.”
    Police entered, ordered the audience to disperse. Eight men and a girl refused to go, were arrested and arraigned for advocating, by speech, hostility to and destruction of “the government of the U. S., of Newark and New Jersey.”
    In New York City, Robert Fulton Cutting, aristocratic Board President of Cooper Union, said that “some sort of an unemployment dole” should be handed out to unassimilable unskilled job-seekers who each winter flock to Manhattan.

    It should be recalled that by “Communists” establishment publications of the time included both formally identified Communist Party members and those whom they preferred to label Communist.

  109. 109
    kindness says:

    @ChrisNYC: Now that is complete bullshit.

    Nixon may well have creamed Humphrey, but there is no way in hell that Nixon won every age group in 1968. I was very young but I was around and aware then & Nixon was not the choice of the DFH’s.

  110. 110
    El Cid says:

    @kindness: Remember, the new revealed truth is that the anti-war protesters caused the Humphrey loss, The End.

  111. 111
    singfoom says:

    Just in case any FPers around here wanted to throw up a banner supprorting OWS on the site…

  112. 112
    Paul in KY says:

    @kindness: The Chris dude said 1972, not 1968.

  113. 113
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Zandar: The fuckers have neither the ruthless intelligence of a Tywin, nor the low cunning of a Tyrion.

    They have the madness of Joffrey with the short-sighted, self-centeredness of Cersei, the fuckers.

    Winter Is Coming.

    (Yeah, I’m deep into Storm of Swords…)

  114. 114
    xian says:

    @harlana: I know what you mean. It was depressing to feel like the plutocracy could just keep taking more and more (11.5 of the 12 cookies, or whatever) and get away with it. The energy unleashed by #ows has already done my cynical heart good. People have been paying attention. What Wall Street and its toadies have done is reprehensible, and the veil is lifted — it will be hard to put it back in place.

  115. 115
    Frank in midtown says:

    He’s got the wrong moment-in-history analogy. This isn’t over the war(s) ala 1969, this is over the capitalists destroying the economy ala 1932. In 1932 the Communist candidate for President got over 1% of the vote and the Socialist candidate for President got over 4% of the vote. The Capitalists think they defeated Communism, but the excesses of their victory sell-a-bration may be their downfall (all the way back to only owning the same modest percentage of everything they owned in 1960.)

  116. 116
    Robert Waldmann says:

    The amazing thing is Brooks’ ability to ignore public opinion polls completely. He confidently asserts that most Americans don’t agree with OWS even though most self identified Republicans in poll after poll say they want higher taxes on rich people. It is hard to summarize what the WS occupiers want as they have not hierarchy or formal agenda, but it sure sounds as if most Republicans agree.

    Yet somehow Brooks thinks that most moderates and independents disagree with proposals which most self identified Republicans say they support. Amazingly, he didn’t say anything about public opinion polling in 1972. I remember the polls in 1972 showing huge, gigantic, massive margins for Nixon . The outcome of the election surprised no one except for maybe Pauline Kael (who was probably joking).

    I was 11 years old in 1972, had long hair, showered as rarely as my mother would let me and attended a lefty alternative school. The fact that my fellow DFHs were totally out of touch with the mainstream was obvious to me.

    OK so I wasn’t F’ing yet. I wasn’t even thinking about F’ing all the time yet, but I was plenty old enough to be able to tell that Brooks is an intellectual fraud and buffoon.

  117. 117
    Linda says:

    People pay closer attention to media circuses than they do political stuff because they figure they can’t effect political stuff anyway, and why make themselves depressed? And the fact that the national debate–until just now–does not even reflect what they want out of government seems to prove this out. If they are represented by a Republican, he or she will do whatever they want, redistrict themselves to reelection, and make it harder to vote them out of office, so why get worked up about your unwilling participation in a crooked card game?

    But if you’re Brooks, people are just symbols–they are anything you want them to be. The good little peasants who are morally reforming themselves are figures in his morality play, and doing what he imagines they ought to be doing.

  118. 118
    DanielX says:

    @handy: Anything is possible, but when do you suppose was the last time David Brooks visited Applebees, with or without salad bar?

    Actually the mental image of David Brooks getting into his perception of middle class drag (say a Jets jersey and running shoes) is just adorable, kind of like a British officer wrapping a towel around his head to visit the bazaar during the days of the East India Company.

  119. 119
    Paul in KY says:

    @Zandar: I’d like to see someone go Danaerys on their asses.

  120. 120
    Ivan Ivanovich Renko says:

    @Paul in KY: I’d pay good money to see that.

Comments are closed.