As Long As We’re Cataloguing Intellectual Failure On The Right: Heeeere’s Davey!

So, Megan McArdle spits the bit in her inimitable (thank FSM!) style, and George Will adds complaining about not being able to say N*clang! like the black kids do to his list of analytical and moral failures, when along comes David Brooks to remind us that he is a truly dreadful author of fiction.

I’m guessing Charles Pierce will go medieval on today’s column soon enough, and work continues to do a tap dance on my butt (in these shoes, I’m guessing), so I’ll keep my fisking as telegraphic as possible.  Which is hard, as the fecking hopeless Brooks has outdone himself this time. [ETA:  I failed at this even more conspicuously than usual.  You have been warned.]

What Brooks offers is his fantasy of the real Mitt Romney, along with the speech that David Brooks is somehow convinced would save the nation that this goateed Romney could deliver at the debate tomorrow.

Let’s view the carnage.  Brooks begins:

I’d like to say that I wish everybody could have known my father, George Romney. He was a great public servant and I’ve always tried to live up to his example.

Uhno.  And that doesn’t even begin to get into the racist dog-whistling by the son that his father, on the evidence, would never have tolerated.

I’m a nonideological guy running in an ideological age, and I’ve been pretending to be more of an ideologue than I really am. I’m a sophisticated guy running in a populist moment. I’ve ended up dumbing myself down.

Easy for you to say, Mitt…er David. And at first glance a hard claim to engage, much less refute.  How do you know what’s in someone’s heart, when all you have to go on is what they say and do?  Except that we do have some indications of the private Romney’s real character.  The essential significance of the “47%” speech is that in both text and delivery it offers a glimpse of what Romney says among his peers and when he believes he can unburden himself outside the glare of public notice.  And just as a reminder, this is what the actual, flesh-and-blood (probably) RomneyBot said:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it. That that’s an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what…These are people who pay no income tax.. [via]

There’s nothing of sophistication there — no understanding either of the tax code or of the human experience of the old and the young, those in uniformed service and those with disabilities and no cash for a dancing horse to aid them in their difficulties.  Then there’s a metric tonne of ideology to compensate for that willed — I assume — ignorance: no-income tax = mooching and looting victims.  Right wing commitment to claims not in evidence doesn’t get more distilled than that.

Onward!

 It hasn’t even worked. I’m behind. So I’ve decided to run the last month of this campaign as myself.

I do not believe the dear FSM loves me enough to make this true.

Or rather, as Brooks is loathe to admit, there’s been plenty of talk out of Boston [Warning! Politico link] about the problem with the client already.  And, you know, there’s a truth about presidenting.  It’s hard, and micromanagers fail.  If you haven’t already, go read Michael Lewis’ piece on what Obama actually does with his time — and then having done so, come back and tell me whether a CEO type used to deference to any damn stupid idea is really the right choice for the job.

With that, Brooks/Goateed Romney go onto substance. Or, as I like to call it, “substance:”

The next president is going to face some wicked problems. The first is the “fiscal cliff.” The next president is going to have to forge a grand compromise on the budget. President Obama has tried and failed to do this over the past four years. There’s no reason to think he’d do any better over the next four.

Errrr.  Whatever you feel about the terms of the various proposed grand compromises (I think they suck, and that they miss the crucial point that it’s the policy, stupid, but that’s for another post), there’s this published just yesterday in the very newspaper for which Mr. Brooks sucks his thumb.  More on point, the two concepts — the fiscal cliff and some large budget deal are not necessarily paired; there is no need either in law or in principle to forge a giant deal to confront the specific questions of taxes and savings coming up on deadline. Brooks knows this, I’m sure, but chooses not to engage it because he is wholly committed to the demand that the US transfer more money to the best off at the expense of the old, the sick and the poor, no matter how many times the failure of the economic claims for such a transfer have been batted back into his face.

Forward!

He’s failed, first, because he’s just not a very good negotiator. …

Which, of course, is why his administration has been the most legislatively successful in memory, despite sustained and unpatriotic opposition by a party that has values power over country.

Furthermore, he’s too insular. …

See above.

The second reason there’s been no budget compromise is that Republicans have been too rigid, refusing to put revenue on the table. I’ve been part of the problem. But, globally, the nations that successfully trim debt have raised $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts. I will bring Republicans around to that position. There’s no way President Obama can do that.

This is, of course, just wankery.  Even worse, it ignores the basic arithmetic of the largest public commitment the Romney-Ryan campaign has made, to pare tax rates below the Bush tax cut levels, to be offset by closing unspecified loopholes — a proposal that, as President Clinton famously pointed out, fails the test of arithmetic.

Let me just jump on this one again:  The Romney budget proposal if taken at face value must blow up the deficit, blow up government, or raise taxes on middle-earners — or some combination of all three.  Brooks has to know this — I’m pretty sure he can count to five (trillion), and that’s really all this one takes, for that is the amount of lost revenue from the top line of the Romney-Ryan tax plan that will go on the deficit that has to come from somewhere.  That Brooks knows this and still pumps out this garbage is a measure of the ethical and moral quality of the man.  Just sayin.

Or, the shorter:  if you think Republicans cut tax rates and raise revenues, you haven’t been paying attention for over thirty years.  Truly, we’ve been there, we’ve done that, we’ve got the T-shirt, and we can smell bullshit when folks like Brooks are kind enough to dump a trainload of the stuff on our doorstep, thank you very much.

Oh dear FSM, there’s more:

The second wicked problem the next president will face is sluggish growth. I assume you know that everything President Obama and I have been saying on this subject has been total garbage. Presidents and governors don’t “create jobs.” We don’t have the ability to “grow the economy.” There’s no magic lever.

Instead, an administration makes a thousand small decisions, each of which subtly adds to or detracts from a positive growth environment.

Dude, if I were writing propaganda in this day and age, I’d avoid references that recall “a thousand points of light” even in passing.  Just saying.

The Obama administration, which is either hostile to or aloof from business, has made a thousand tax, regulatory and spending decisions that are biased away from growth and biased toward other priorities.

And those would be?  Look, it is asking a lot of a putative public “intellectual,” but it is worth remembering (and I know this sounds like a broken record) what an abandonment of the principle of public regulation left us with in late 2008.  Banksters may not like financial regulation — but there is ample evidence (dating back to 1720, btw) that you damn well need it if you don’t like global financial collapse every few years.

More to the point, recent history is a pretty good guide here.  It’s a very flawed instrument, but the fact that the stock market consistently, over many, many years, does better under Democratic administrations that Republican ones is a signal that business may grumble, but does not actually suffer under greater scrutiny.  The reverse, in fact, which surprises no one who understands the concept of “market failure” — whose numbers seem not to include Mr. Brooks.

American competitiveness has fallen in each of the past four years, according to the World Economic Forum. Medical device makers, for example, are being chased overseas. The economy in 2012 is worse than the economy in 2011. That’s inexcusable.

This chart, please.  Also, too, if you look at the cited report (but not linked–always a Brooks tell) you find that the US is now ranked fifth internationally for competitiveness, behind such economic heavyweights as Switzerland, Singapore, Sweden and Finland.  Yup.  Brooks is a hack, but this is particularly hacktackular.

Also: please note that the leading reason cited for the US’s lagging behind these engines of the global economy is  that “the business community continues to be critical of public and private institutions…”  which raises at least the hint that perhaps GOP intransigence on things like the debt ceiling may have taken a toll. But I digress…

My administration will be a little more biased toward growth. It’ll treat businesses with more respect. There will be no magic recovery, but gradually the animal spirits will revive.

Ahh! The confidence fairy! It’s worked so well in Britain.

Seriously — this has gone beyond embarrassing to the point of an insult to Brooks’ readers.  We should vote for Romney because Mitt of all people will unleash the beast within us?  Implausible (and actually kind of icky) sexual innuendo aside — does anyone over at the Times remember what happened the last time we let the animal spirits run free?  Again, global financial disaster anyone.  Words fail me (and a good thing too, considering the heroic length of this screed).

The third big problem is Medicare and rising health care costs, which are bankrupting this country. Let me tell you the brutal truth. Nobody knows how to reduce health care inflation….

This is basically wrong.  Bluntly:  other countries get better outcomes for much less.  Their costs have been rising, to be sure, but there is no doubt that there are plenty of models out there that would reduce US medical costs in ways that would make the phrase “bankrupting the country” simply bullshit.  That there are possibly intractable political obstacles to emulating any other model or cherrypicking from several might be true.  But if so, that’s in part because compromised members of the media use the platforms of great influence to obscure the basic international facts of medical care.  One more thing:  following up on a recent slowing of medical cost inflation in Massachusetts (with its Romneycare prototype of the national system) we now have an ongoing attempt to capture some of the insights that have allowed other countries to contain costs here in the home of the bean and the cod.  We are not so ignorant as the writing of David Brooks would leave us.

The first, included in Obamacare, is to have an Independent Payment Advisory Board find efficiencies and impose price controls. The problem is that that leaves the painful cost-cutting decisions in Washington, where Congress rules.

This is simply incoherent.  An independent board is not of necessity a pawn of Congress, which is why the Republican party has tried so hard to limit the power of IPAB.

Congress wrote provisions in the health care law that have already gutted the power of the advisory board. The current law allows Congress to make “cuts” on paper and then undo them with subsequent legislation. That’s what Congress always does.

Which is why you raise the bar to Congressional attempts to reduce the independence of the board, rather than lower it.

The second approach, favored by me, is to scrap the perverse fee-for-service incentives and use a more market-based approach. I think there’s ample evidence that this could work, but, to be honest, some serious health economists disagree.

Evidence like this.

Again, I cannot help but believe that Brooks knows about the Medicare Advantage experiment in market-competition vs. single payer (Medicare) deliver of health services.  Health care is famously an example of a market prone to failure, and it should have come as no surprise that the program did not achieve the fantasies of those for whom the words “free market” are as potent an incantation in this worls as Expecto Patronum! would be.  Brooks is such a deluded creature, but still, the numbers aren’t even close.  That he writes this stuff is, again, a measure of his essential intellectual contempt for his audience.

Almost done… I promise

I’m willing to pursue any experiment, from any political direction, that lowers costs and saves Medicare.

No.  A vouchers are not insurance; the choice of Ryan shows what votes in the House have already confirmed:  the GOP approach to health care has nothing to do with cost containment and everything to do with shifting costs from the entire nation to the individuals confronting the need for care, many of whom will, most likely, be priced out of critical segments of the health care delivery system.  Whatever else Romney proposes, it is not “saving” Medicare

Democrats are campaigning as the party that will fight to the death to preserve the Medicare status quo. If they win, the lesson will be: Never Touch Medicare. No Democrat or Republican will dare reform the system, and we will go bankrupt.

No.  See above. Democrats, including those in my and Mitt Romney’s home state (sort-of, in his case) are currently touching medical care delivery in ways that do carry risk.  We can count, unlike our Laffable GOP friends.  The difference is we actually attempt to construct policy to do something about the numbers.

All right.  I’m done.  So much for telegraphy.  Did I mention how much I loathe the condescension of David Brooks?  It’s not the assumption that we’re dumb enough to buy this that gets me in the end, though.  It’s that he continues to use his very bully pulpit to advance ideas he has to know are based on bullshit that if enacted would harm so very many people.  I do not wish physical harm on him.  A year or two in a Trappist monastery would satisfy me just fine.

Images: Anthony van Dyke, Portrait of a Commander in Armour, with a Red Scarf,  before 1641.

Johann Heinrich Füssli, detail from The Fairy Queen Titania, 1793-1794.

Cross Posted at Inverse Square

66 replies
  1. 1
    Chris says:

    Furthermore, he’s too insular. …

    I’m sorry, but Republicans are the very last people on the face of the planet who get to whine that anyone else is “too insular.”

  2. 2
    jwb says:

    Wow. Just. Wow. I feel a little bit like after Clinton’s convention speech.

  3. 3
    👽 Martin says:

    So I’ve decided to run the last month of this campaign as myself.

    There’s the fundamental flaw in what Brooks calls reasoning. Mitt isn’t himself with anyone but his family and a few close friends. Mitt is a Mormon, and Mormons don’t get to be themselves in public outside of Utah and a few other locales. They’re religious outcasts in this country from all corners, and especially from the base on the right. He doesn’t know how to lower his guard because he’s never been allowed to. He’s as bottled up as a 65 year old gay man pretending to be straight because he spent his whole life being told it was a sin. He’s not about to change the script now.

  4. 4
    chopper says:

    I will bring Republicans around to that position. There’s no way President Obama can do that.

    lolwut? when mittens says ‘jump’, goopers say ‘how high…would i have to be to take an order from you?’

  5. 5
    Cacti says:

    But we did get to hear Mitt let his guard down…

    When he was with a room full of 1-percenters and proceeded to share his contempt for the bottom half of the population.

  6. 6
    Chris says:

    @👽 Martin:

    Haven’t heard that one before, but it’s as good an explanation as any. Thanks!

  7. 7
    jwb says:

    And right on cue, here is Charlie Pierce.

  8. 8
    MattF says:

    Note that the audience for this piece (readers of the NYT op-ed page) have good reason to suspect that Mitt is an incompetent, dishonest plutocrat– Brooks has to try to give Mitt a speech and a voice that says otherwise. It’s a tough assignment, particularly having to contend with that pesky ‘truthfulness’ criterion.

  9. 9
    kdaug says:

    In these shoes, Tom?

    Es un escadelo.

  10. 10
    Suffern ACE says:

    But we don’t elect private moment Mitt. We didn’t elect private moment Obama. Or private moment Bushes or Clinton either for that matter. We expect them to perform certain private moments for our pleasure, but we don’t actually want a press conference that comes off too much like Bob and Emily in bed.

  11. 11
    Jay C says:

    So, apparently inspired by Clint Eastwood’s staging a dialogue with an imaginary Barack Obama at the RNC, David Brooks has decided to pen a dialogue with an imaginary Mitt Romney for his column?

    Hmmm .. what’s the common thread here, again???

  12. 12
    MaxxLange says:

    I guess they have reached the “bargaining” stage

  13. 13
    MaxxLange says:

    I guess they have reached the “bargaining” stage

  14. 14
    Roger Moore says:

    Let me just say that the next politician who gets elected by standing up a month before the election and admitting that he’s been running on pure bullshit will be the first. You only have to see that to know that everything that follows is essence of inside the beltway fantasy.

  15. 15
    Dixon says:

    You go to war with the Mitt you have…not the Mitt you want.

  16. 16
    jibeaux says:

    (Bobo) But, globally, the nations that successfully trim debt have raised $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts. I will bring Republicans around to that position. There’s no way President Obama can do that.
    (Charlie Pierce’s addition:) And I’ll get around to it, just as soon as I find where Grover Norquist and Jim DeMint buried the mason jar containing my balls.

    I’m dying.

    Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/p.....z28AAFHTox

  17. 17
    jibeaux says:

    @MaxxLange: All right, that’s a good one.

  18. 18
    trollhattan says:

    Sweet Jesus, I didn’t think Brooks could take the elevator of critical thinking any lower than the NYT Building subbasement, but he’s evidently popped out of the sea floor somewhere in the Indian Ocean.

    What’s left of my mind, boggles.

  19. 19
    japa21 says:

    I will skip over and read Pierce, and undoubtedly enjoy his take. However, I really doubt his evisceration will be any more complete than yours.

  20. 20
    RosiesDad says:

    Nice rant Tom. I just forwarded it to my son, a HS junior, to annotate for his AP Lang and Comp class. I attached Brooks’ column in the interest of completeness.

    The boy might as well learn early (he’s 17) that there are all manner of grifters and bullshit artists out there trying to mislead him.

  21. 21

    Sorry Brooksie, Mitt’s gonna keep running his Zombie Reagan subroutine. Your coding will not take.

  22. 22
    trollhattan says:

    @jwb:

    Poor, poor Moral Hazard.

    Also, too, if there were ever a final stiletto placed between Bobo’s ribs, it would be this:

    Okay, I choose Romney, The Actual Candidate. He’s much funnier.

  23. 23
    JCT says:

    @jibeaux: Yup — that line cracked me up big time. Too bad it’s fucking true.

  24. 24
    Politically Lost says:

    Moral Hazard just hung himself in the middle of the Young Foggies Club while reciting Hamlet’s final words.

  25. 25
    Alison says:

    Tom, if I could have (and had any desire to have) babies, yours would be near the top of the list of contenders. Thing of beauty, this is. Let the social media sharing commence…

  26. 26
    KG says:

    I’m sorry, Brooks/Goatee-Romney lost me at “wicked”… I cannot now, nor ever, imagine Willard Mitt Romney saying the word “wicked” unless he was talking about the green skinned lady from the land of Oz.

    Has there ever been a nominee this bad? I mean, I know there have been worse candidates, but they tend to be done by the third primary. But a nominee, who actually won the primary process, being this bad?

  27. 27
    dmsilev says:

    Goateed Romney

    For one very brief but horrific moment, I read that as ‘Goatse Romney’.

  28. 28
    KG says:

    @Jay C: I would actually enjoy a debate between Imaginary Obama and Imaginary Romney… someone at SNL needs to get on that.

  29. 29
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Wouldn’t it have been easier to just say “What a load of twaddle?”

  30. 30
    trollhattan says:

    @dmsilev:
    Gaaaah!

    It’s possible Bobo wants Willard to become Walter White. That’d be cool.

  31. 31
    RP says:

    @Omnes Omnibus: Or even just “What a load.” Brevity is the soul of wit.

  32. 32
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    the nations that successfully trim debt have raised $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts. I will bring Republicans around to that position.

    Which Republicans? The ones who’ve repeatedly voted to stab their own leadership in the back because they’d rather open their veins right there on the steps of the Capitol than vote in favor of a penny in tax increases on their rich friends? Those Republicans! Hahahahahaha! Good luck with that.

    Shorter David Brooks:
    Hey guys, watch this! I’m going to jump this shark! Which shark? The shark that is crushing me in its bloody jaws as we speak [crunch, munch].

  33. 33
    Lurking Canadian says:

    Stupid? Evil? Stupid and evil? It’s so hard tonknow how to characterize Brooks. Does he really believe the gibberish he’s paid to spew? Does anybody? I have a mental picture of Brooks turning these columns in and the editor saying, “Hah! This one’s gold Davey!”

  34. 34
    Enhanced Mooching Techniques says:

    Bobbo @

    I’m willing to pursue any experiment, from any political direction, that lowers costs and saves Medicare.

    No, experiments aren’t conservatism, you hack.

  35. 35
    karen marie says:

    This is, of course, just wankery. Even worse, it ignores the basic arithmetic of the largest public commitment the Romney-Ryan campaign has made, to pare tax rates below the Bush tax cut levels, to be offset by closing unspecified loopholes—a proposal that, as President Clinton famously pointed out, fails the test of arithmetic.

    Especially because Ryan said that home mortgage, health care and charitable deductions are all off the table and will be maintained. (I would provide the ThinkProgress link but they’ve got something going on and the site is being flagged for malware.)

  36. 36
    quannlace says:

    And whats with the use of the adjective, ‘wicked?’ To remind us he’s from Mass?

  37. 37
    the Conster says:

    Brooks is talking about jazz Romney that Jon Stewart described in Chaos on Bullshit Mountain. We all think we heard the words of a plutocrat clearly articulating his contempt for half the country he considers to be moochers, but Brooks is hearing the words between those words of a warm hearted but stern kind father figure who just wants what’s best for all of us. Not including Brooks or Mitt, of course.

  38. 38
    trollhattan says:

    O/T, this is a little weird, but also complementary with our understanding of Today’s Republican Party(tm).

    Arkansas is not a battleground in the presidential race, being solidly in Mitt Romney’s camp. It doesn’t have a U.S. Senate contest or gubernatorial election this year. Even its four House races are not considered competitive.
    __
    But Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative group backed by billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch, has pledged to spend nearly $1 million here.
    __
    The prize lies farther down the ballot: Both houses of the Arkansas legislature are in play this November, with every seat up for reelection for the first time in a decade.
    __
    Republicans need to flip just a handful of those spots to turn the chambers red for the first time since the end of the Civil War. If they succeed, it will be another death knell for Southern Democrats and perhaps the beginning of a new Solid South — of the 11 states that made up the Confederacy, only Arkansas still has a Democratic chamber.

    Once the Confederacy is reunited, then what?

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....ml?hpid=z1

  39. 39

    @Lurking Canadian:
    I think he does. His columns read like a perfect example of how intelligent people rationalize. He has an ideal he believes in – rich people are better than poor people. He dismisses as unbelievable or blocks out of his awareness anything that disproves his point. He accepts as true any rumor or wild interpretation that supports his point. He cobbles together a lengthy argument, but it’s utterly superficial. Most importantly, it always comes back to the same thing – rich people are better than poor people. He believes it’s RIGHT to gut the safety net, because poor people must be lazy and exaggerating. It’s right to cut taxes and all restrictions on the rich, because they will obviously respond in the highest moral caliber and save us all from ourselves. Worrying about the deficit is the best argument he’s heard that superficially supports these moral principles, so he pimps it relentlessly. Brooks is a believer. A lazy, selfish, arrogant believer.

  40. 40
    Captain C says:

    The next president is going to face some wicked problems. The first is the “fiscal cliff.” The next president is going to have to forge a grand compromise on the budget. President Obama has tried and failed to do this over the past four years. There’s no reason to think he’d do any better over the next four.

    I’m pretty sure that the political party that Romney is a member of, and Brooks happily fellates, um, supports is the prime reason for this. Bobo would probably get a big case of butthurt if someone pointed this out to his face, though. So someone please do so, and with vehemence!

    ETA: Also, can someone please tell me how to a strikethrough on FYFWP? I tried the s in and that hasn’t worked.

  41. 41
    Bruce S says:

    “If you don’t believe me, there’s a book I’d like for you to read” has always been one of the most awesome debating tactics!

    David Brooks is a clearly a genius among pundits. I am absolutely certain that if Romney took his advice, he could win this election.

    Watching the epic fail of conservative “deep thinkers” in this election cycle is quickly becoming a guilty pleasure. Does David Brooks know how stupid he sounds?

  42. 42
    Redshift says:

    This is, of course, just wankery. Even worse, it ignores the basic arithmetic of the largest public commitment the Romney-Ryan campaign has made, to pare tax rates below the Bush tax cut levels, to be offset by closing unspecified loopholes—a proposal that, as President Clinton famously pointed out, fails the test of arithmetic.

    Ah, but Bobo said the first thing Romney should say is that he’s been lying the whole campaign, so any budget commitments he’s made are magically erased in the minds of the voters. Ha! Victory!

    This was a great evisceration, but in practical terms, as Roger Moore said, to see how delusional this is, you don’t need to go beyond Bobo’s suggested opening of “I’ve been lying to you all along, but from now on I’m not going to lie. Really.”

  43. 43
    Redshift says:

    @quannlace: Yup. And to pretend to be human.

  44. 44
    Captain C says:

    My administration will be a little more biased toward growth. It’ll treat businesses with more respect. There will be no magic recovery, but gradually the animal spirits will revive.

    I’m not sure what animal spirits have to do with a recovery. Has Bobo been smoking ditchweed in Sedona?

  45. 45
    Bruce S says:

    Brooks: “Nobody knows how to reduce health care inflation…”

    Levenson: This is basically wrong. Bluntly: other countries get better outcomes for much less. Their costs have been rising, to be sure, but there is no doubt that there are plenty of models out there that would reduce US medical costs in ways that would make the phrase “bankrupting the country” simply bullshit.

    THIS! The notion that “Medicare” is bankrupting the country, rather than actually saving us some money compared to other insurance options, or that there isn’t overwhelming evidence for universal health care models that are fully sustainable isn’t just bullshit, it’s the worst bullshit out there that has currency among supposedly “serious” people. Brooks is a goddamned idiot. To even imply that “Medicare” is the problem and that “Medicare will bankrupt the country” is, frankly, just a wee bit this side of Ralph Reed’s feverish delusions in terms of fundamental and deliberate dishonesty and hysteria-mongering among the ill-informed.

  46. 46
    prufrock says:

    In that 47% speech of Romney’s, this part was the thing that disturbed me most:

    …who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

    He emphasizes the word “entitled”, and then slightly pauses after it. He sounds both condescending and angry at that moment, and given that he is so very the opposite when he is mouthing tea bagger platitudes in his public speeches, it really lets you know he is speaking from the heart.

    We are worms to him. Well, maybe, but good luck with the harvest if we aren’t enriching the soil.

  47. 47
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Captain C:

    I’m not sure what animal spirits have to do with a recovery

    __
    While seated at a formal dinner party Animal Spirits slips a firm hand onto the tender thigh of The Economy, which causes it to, err, “recover” as it were.

  48. 48
    catclub says:

    @prufrock: speaking of entitled. A good one.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....story.html

  49. 49
    scav says:

    @Captain C: Yoikes, he seems to pulling out his books for clever ways to call out the confidence fairy. Keynes has Animal Spirits which to me sounds like a fancy term for the stuff mathematics can’t explain. Does bring up images of Frankenstein and Vitalism for me, although I think this use works too – they appear in Balloonist Theory. I think we should adopt this, especially the bit where the animal spirits and vital spirits causes explosions to produce movement.

  50. 50
    Bruce S says:

    I will say this for these “conservative” assholes.

    If Obama had pig-fucked his way through this campaign the way Romney has, if he had shifted fundamental positions so many times throughout his political tenure, if he projected a total lack of charm, if he seemed as fundamentally “out of touch” with average folks, if he had kissed the ass of some (essentially non-existent) ultra-left radical faction among Democratic primary voters and embraced the most extreme positions possible, had put forward economic proposals so out of the “mainstream” AND mathematically incoherent, had been caught on tape “privately” dissing half of America including a large segment of his own base, and for good measure let’s add “if his wife was an unlikeable dingbat who exuded a sense of entitlement and privilege”, the liberal punditry wouldn’t even be trying to figure out scenarios to resurrect him, the liberal base would be planning to sit out the election in droves and we wouldn’t even be talking about “resurrecting” some imaginary Obama who, in this alternate reality, hadn’t already proved himself some combination of incompetent and personally despicable. But these right-wing assholes are hanging in there, telling themselves stories about cooked polls, denying the fundamental fact that Romney has negated any pretense to Presidential credibility among folks who aren’t consumed by hatred of Obama as their core belief, and in the case of the true wing-nuts like Jen Rubin and the FOX crew, mostly standing by their man! At the “farther edges” – which appears to be the GOP’s base and the FOX viewership – it’s an awesome display of group discipline and cultish delusion that is paralleled perhaps only in the annals of Marxism-Leninism…or Scientology.

  51. 51
    Captain C says:

    @ThatLeftTurnInABQ: This makes much more sense than anything in Bobo’s piece. Or any of them, for that matter. Funnier, too.

  52. 52
    Roger Moore says:

    @Captain C:

    I’m not sure what animal spirits have to do with a recovery.

    Animal spirits” is the way Keynes described the influence of emotion on the market, especially the way that confidence (or lack thereof) can be self-fulfilling. The confidence fairy is a similar concept, as was FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”. Basically, the thing that will get the economy running again is when people believe that the economy will start running again. So fantasy Mitt talking about animal spirits is essentially the same thing as real life Mitt talking himself up as the confidence fairy.

  53. 53
    BruinKid says:

    And right on cue again, Charlie Pierce takes on George Will’s mind-numbingly stupid piece.

  54. 54
    Ed Drone says:

    @dmsilev:

    Goateed Romney

    For one very brief but horrific moment, I read that as ‘Goatse Romney’.

    And I immediately thought, upon reading your comment, “Gatsby Romney.” There’s an interesting (and probably very Freudian) sequence of images involved here.

    Ed

  55. 55
    ed_finnerty says:

    I haven’t read the comments and it has probably been pointed out, but this is equivalent to the famous, “I am going to get the Sunni’s and the Shia’s in the room and tell them ‘Stop the B*llsh*t'”

  56. 56
    Gloryb says:

    @MaxxLange: Lol, I know, rite?

  57. 57
    danielx says:

    The second reason there’s been no budget compromise is that Republicans have been too rigid, refusing to put revenue on the table. I’ve been part of the problem. But, globally, the nations that successfully trim debt have raised $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts. I will bring Republicans around to that position.

    And pigs might have wings, too. On which planet will Mittens suddenly find the backbone to oppose wingnuterria?

    The Republican base can’t stand Romney now, and congressional wingnuts aren’t much better. And did B’rer Brooks somehow miss Grover Norquist’s speech at CPAC? It went something like this:

    We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don’t need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. … We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don’t need someone to think it up or design it.

    In other words, ol’ Grover sees Romney’s role as being something like this: shut the fuck up and do what you’re told.

    Every column this clueless twit writes ought to be titled The Unbearable Lightness of Being David Brooks.

  58. 58
    driftglass says:

    Don’t confuse advice about how to function in the real world of “facts” and “history” with hot, hot Whig Fan Fiction. Mr. Brooks now exclusively writes the latter.

    http://driftglass.blogspot.com.....ction.html

  59. 59
    negative 1 says:

    You get $1 of growth per $3 of cuts, or in other words .33 cents of growth per $1 cut in benefits. Meanwhile, you get $1.70 per dollar spent in food stamp assistance and $1.60 per dollar spent in extending unemployment benefits. So, now that we know that you really only care about what’s best, your next column will be about how Mitt should increase food stamps and further extend unemployment benefits, right?
    At what point does the Times just consider it embarassing that he still has a job?

    Source
    http://voices.washingtonpost.c.....lar_o.html

  60. 60
    Joshua says:

    I’m trying to meaningfully engage with the original piece and these criticisms… but I really just can’t get past the fact that Brooks is openly writing real person fanfic and that this is somehow considered serious political commentary.

  61. 61

    […] very late to this party, but Tom Levenson at Balloon Juice paused in his devastating Fisking of David Brooks’s latest to point me to Michael Lewis’s Vanity Fair profile of Obama in office. It doesn’t come […]

  62. 62
    The Bobs says:

    But, globally, the nations that successfully trim debt have raised $1 in new revenue for every $3 in spending cuts. I

    This sounds more like disaster then success to me, but then I don’t have a column in the NYT.

  63. 63
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Joshua:

    I really just can’t get past the fact that Brooks is openly writing real person fanfic and that this is somehow considered serious political commentary.

    __
    Villager pr0n = 50 Shades of Bobo.

    “And now it is time for some Shared Sacrifice”, he growled.
    “Oooh, cut me”, she moaned. “Cut my social security benefits. Do it till it hurts!”
    “This is for your benefit, not for me”, he said lustily, unrolling his stained, dogeared copy of Simpson-Bowles…

  64. 64
    pattonbt says:

    @Bruce S: But it’s not about bankrupting the country at all, its about the 1% having to help pay for a more equitable system for all. In theory, of course, Brooks wants poor people to have access to good healthcare, he just doesnt want to help fund a public option (mandatory insurance or NHS or somewhere in between)to make it easier. It’s the IGMFY mentality out in the open. As long as he doesnt have to pay for it, he’s all for it. If that means people have to go bankrupt getting healthcare or die because they cant afford it, so be it (of course these idiots forget about all the other societal costs which are orders of magnitude more expensive to everyone for not having a more communal and humane system – because it helps their argument and they rail against having to support those as well “bring back debtors prisons!”). But god forbid he have to lose the cost of a cup of coffee a day to help make it more equitable and humane.

    He and his ilk are despicable and the real evil behind the republican agenda – they know they are selling evil and know their job is to make it not only sound NOT evil, but actually good for you. Human garbage.

  65. 65
    Alex says:

    A wicked problem is a concept from systems analysis, meaning a problem exhibiting complex dynamics and with poorly specified parameters, in which it is not obvious how you would tell if you had solved it.

    Brooks appears to think it’s another word for “big” or “important”, and further contradicts it by specifying both the terms of the problems and their solutions.

  66. 66
    Barbara says:

    Shorter Brooks advice: “I’m Mitt Romney and yes, you got me, I’ve been lying through my teeth for three of the last four years because I think you are either too stupid or deluded to deal with the truth, but obviously that has not been a winning strategy, so from now on, you can definitely trust everything I say.”

    Oh yeah, that ought to work.

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