I can’t believe it when people are strange

A lot of you get angry when I say that most of the totebaggers I know like to rock out to the smooth sounds of David Brooks. But it’s true! Last weekend, I spoke with not one but two older totebaggers who insisted on telling me about some brilliant thing they’d heard Bobo say. One was wisdom he’d dropped on the Snooze Hour, the other was some recent column.

How do I reason with people like this? I told them the truth, that Bobo simply produces propaganda that is designed to appeal to people like them, but, frankly, it’s hard to tell someone this without insulting them.

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106 replies
  1. 1
    Cheap Jim says:

    Insulting people is a problem for you? I hadn’t noticed.

  2. 2

    How do I reason with people like this?

    You don’t.

    Just slowly shake your head, laugh a knowing little laugh, and just walk away while they’re mid-sentence.

    Rude, true. But IMO we’ve reached the point where shaming these folks is their only hope for mental salvation.

  3. 3
    Suffern ACE says:

    WTF is up with John McAfee? (OT, of course, because I have nothing to add on David Brooks’ tobogganers (an auto correct I will keep, because it’s all downhill once you start to listen to the soothing tones of Brooks).

  4. 4
    Metrosexual Manichean Monster DougJ says:

    @Cheap Jim:

    I’m different in real life.

  5. 5
    Metrosexual Manichean Monster DougJ says:

    @Judas Escargot, Acerbic Prophet of the Mighty Potato God:

    The trouble is these are people I really like.

  6. 6
    japa21 says:

    You wouldn’t be insulting them, just telling them the truth. If they choose to be insulted rather than to ask themselves whether or not you are correct, that is their problem, not yours.

    If a doctor tells a patient they need to lose weight and change their food intake, he is not insulting them.

  7. 7
    Politically Lost says:

    Over the years, my opinion of Bobo has evolved. In my early exposure to him (Times, Sunday Shows etc.) I was just always annoyed by his always predictable conclusions of supporting whatever wingnut crazy he was talking about that week. The other element, I was mildly amused by his blatant lying about what, “the American people” think as posited by Bobo.

    In the last two years, after my exposure to Driftglass, then Peirce, and now you Doug,(and others) I think Bobo is the most pernicious and destructive influence in our media today.

    That may be a distortion of reality (prolly is) but that is how I feel.

    Thanks

  8. 8
    slag says:

    A lot of you get angry when I say that most of the totebaggers I know like to rock out to the smooth sounds of David Brooks.

    Practically no one gets angry when you say this. People get angry when you make sweeping generalizations classifying diverse groups of us based on your singular warped taxonomy. If you divested yourself from the project of inciting intraliberal culture wars, you would get more respect.

  9. 9
    Mark S. says:

    I could see thinking Bobo isn’t nearly as bad as most other right-wing fuckheads, but thinking he’s brilliant? I’m curious what he said that got these totebaggers all excited.

  10. 10
    David in NY says:

    I think you’ve got to focus on the alleged “brilliant” thing, not on Brooks. And just respectfully disagree with the nice Mr. Brooks about this, whatever it is, adding, that this kind of thing is one of the nice Mr. Brooks’s weak points, you have to be a little careful about him sometimes, you think.

    It’s what I use on senile relatives, assuming I can exert any self-control at all.

  11. 11
    Jennifer says:

    How to reason with them? Point them to Krugthulhu’s recent post where he describes Brooks (not by name, but by habit) as a “professional seemer,” one who seems to thoughtfully weigh an issue, before – always – ultimately siding with the rightwing rabble. Brooks’ “seeming” reasonableness is nothing more than a mask to help slip retrograde ideas over on people who wouldn’t accept same coming from the likes of Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity. He’s every bit as reactionary as they are; he just hides it well enough to keep a position at the NYT (and, to their great shame, on NPR).

  12. 12
    mdblanche says:

    Are these people really a significant enough demographic to be worth reasoning with?

  13. 13
    Brachiator says:

    A lot of you get angry when I say that most of the totebaggers I know like to rock out to the smooth sounds of David Brooks.

    Maybe you just need to hang out with a better class of totebagger.

    How do I reason with people like this? I told them the truth

    Yes, “A prophet is not recognised in his own land.” But simply telling people that they are wrong is not the same thing as reasoning with them. Maybe you should host a TED talk or something.

    I mean yeah, Bobob is the Kenny G of punditry, but that’s just how some people roll. Not much to be done.

  14. 14
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    You might ask them to bet on the quality of Bobo’s wisdom. Have them try to put his wisdom into practice.

  15. 15
    General Stuck says:

    A lot of you get angry when I say that most of the totebaggers I know like to rock out to the smooth sounds of David Brooks

    I used to. Until gaining a fuller understanding to what the term “totebagger” meant. I just have internalized it to be a mild political stereotype, for the most part. That is allowed in and of itself.

    As far as Brooks and his propaganda, I think there is a segment of baby boomers that are timestuck in the familial and casual consumer bliss of the late 50’s and early 60’s, with Father Knows Best, cheap and lethal hamburgers, and the lightness of being that I can faintly recall at a very young age back then. Though most of my senses as a boomer were formed with the Cuban Missile Crisis, and Vietnam, and the rest of that shit.

    They are basically harmless, imo, and mostly vote democrat regardless of the Applebees swill Brooks feeds them. Let em have their fantasy, I say. I think the nation is overall sufficiently polarized right now to make totebaggers and Brooks not much more than a summer run of Shakespeare In the Park.

  16. 16

    @Metrosexual Manichean Monster DougJ:

    The trouble is these are people I really like.

    Fuck ’em.

    Why?

    Because fuck ’em, that’s why.

  17. 17
    Fwiffo says:

    I have a worse problem – trying to respond to people who make similar references to Tom Friedman whenever he accidentally appears to say something tangentially smart/correct.

  18. 18
    Jennifer says:

    If AOL wasn’t chock-full-o’-dicks, I would have recommended referring your tote-bagging friends to Brooks’ Dickipedia page.

    But alas, the wiki of dicks is no longer with us.

  19. 19
    slag says:

    How do I reason with people like this? I told them the truth, that Bobo simply produces propaganda that is designed to appeal to people like them, but, frankly, it’s hard to tell someone this without insulting them.

    I honestly don’t know any of these types of people, but if I did, every time one of them tried to extoll the virtues of the DB, I would pull up that “liberals are to blame for torture” column he wrote and tell them to address that column before they ever talk to me about that DB again.

    ETA Usually, I find that dealing in specifics tends to take these issues out of the realm of the personal.

  20. 20
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Insult them.

    If that doesn’t get through, then it’s time for the LART*.

    *Luser Attitude Readjustment Tool. AKA a clue by four.

  21. 21
    MaxxLange says:

    Yeah, “Don’t take this personally, but you are a dupe and useful idiot of the ruling class” is typically a great icebreaker.

  22. 22

    @mdblanche: Seems to me they’re the bulk of the media & Democratic Party decisionmakers, so, “yes”.

    As to how to reason with reasonable-sounding people who like David Brooks, I recall Doug’s post a little while back comparing the MSM to North Korean propaganda. That was obviously hyperbole, but I think it’s true that folks like that are of a mindset that is hard to dislodge with one conversation or bit of data. Maybe mention the Iraq invasion? I don’t know how to counter it.

    I was one off those people myself, supported the Iraq occupation and all, then realized I was mistaken to trust our political and media elites. Dislodging a worldview is hard.

  23. 23
    Tim (The Other One) says:

    As a died-in-the-wool” committed Snooze Hour watcher; TeeVee Bobo is not the same as print Bobo

  24. 24
    Original Lee says:

    Lately (since the election) I’ve been telling them that Brooks gets paid to say these things and make them sound reasonable and wise. If they seem willing to continue rational(ish) conversation, I compare him to the HR manager who has to explain the changes to the health benefits to the worker bees. This seems to go over well most of the time and I think some are now looking for the hook hidden in the chum.

  25. 25
    Mary G says:

    I spent Christmas with a table full of lifelong, committed Democrats. Two of them live in Nancy Pelosi’s district. Still, they have imbibed so much BS that actually comes from the right. Hostess Foods went under due to greedy unions. It’s not fair that they have to pay more taxes if Obama gets his way, when 47% don’t pay any at all. Too many people are on food stamps and should get jobs.

    They are all highly educated and make good, but not obscene salaries in jobs that produce something. They all donated to Obama and the DNC.

    They remain pig ignorant about what’s really going on in our country (they are faithful watchers of the News Hour and the Sunday shows).

    I went ballistic and made a long speech about how wrong all of this is, and they told me the same thing they had said last Thanksgiving when I lit into them for criticizing Obamacare. “You should start a blog, Mary.”

  26. 26
    Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again) says:

    Reasoning? Fuck that shit. Reset the switch. Smack ’em upside their fat heads.

  27. 27
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    who insisted on telling me about some brilliant thing they’d heard Bobo say

    How do I reason with people like this?

    Here’s the tactical approach I’d take:
    (1) Well yes, Mr Brooks may occasionally have something interesting to say, but he also spouts a lot of arrant nonsense [insert examples of Bobo-grade stupidity best suited to the prejudices of your audience, i.e. something which will appall them, perhaps because they know more about the subject than Bobo does].
    (2) If Mr Brooks drops a random mix of nonsense and wisdom, what’s the point in giving credence to anything he says? If you can spot the difference between the two, congratulations! you’re qualified to be a pundit yourself and you don’t need Mr Brooks to tell you what to think. If not, then listening to Mr Brooks isn’t going to help you, best to find somebody else who can give better value for the valuable time you spend listening to them. Here are some suggestions, if you please [insert Krugman, Bruce Bartlett, etc., again tailored to the tastes of your audience].

  28. 28
    Wag says:

    @mdblanche:

    This.

    We won the election without many of them.

  29. 29

    You can mock people you like Doug. Mock away. They are bringing it up to you because they think that Bobo is something we can all agree on because he’s so reasonable. Disabuse them of that notion.

  30. 30
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    frankly, it’s hard to tell someone this without insulting them.

    Try, “not that there’s anything wrong with people like you that a FEMA reprogramming camp can’t fix” at the end of your sentence. Sometimes, people just need to know there’s help for them.

  31. 31
    Jennifer says:

    @Fwiffo: Just refer them to any of Matt Taibbi’s deconstructions of Friedman.

    I’ve had this issue myself with readers of my blog who weren’t thrilled with my disrespect for Brooks and Friedman. My response was to post on them whenever they said something stupid/egregious, explaining why said statement/column was stupid and/or egregious, and pretty soon no one bothered to defend them.

    Hell, even my best friend, a journalism major, for some reason purchased one of Friedman’s books, this after hearing me slag on him repeatedly. She put it down after a couple of chapters, deciding that there were much better things she could be reading in the limited amount of time she had to devote to reading. Maybe it’s just that the awfulness of Friedman’s prose doesn’t really sink in for everyone when they’re skimming a 500 word column, and once they pick up one of his books, there’s no escaping what a an ill-lettered nincompoop he is.

    For Brooks, I got no explanation. His dickishness shines through in everything he’s ever written that I’ve seen.

  32. 32
    Eric U. says:

    totebaggers are constantly being told that Bobo is reasonable, ‘centrist’. There is a lot of propaganda out there aimed at people who might otherwise be liberal, but are not really paying attention as well as they think they are. It’s a type of low information voter that works fairly hard to stay informed, but doesn’t pay attention to reliable sources. I.e., the public radio and tv audience.

    I know a guy that reliably votes democratic, but he thinks the deficit is the most horrible thing and that we should be fighting it tooth and nail. He’s oblivious to the fact that the people talking about the deficit don’t care about the deficit, it’s just a way to destroy government programs and get tax cuts for the rich.

  33. 33
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Original Lee: The HR manager is a great analogy.

    I don’t know any of these Totebaggers though so I’m not sure how to argue with them

  34. 34
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @mdblanche:

    Are these people really a significant enough demographic to be worth reasoning with?

    You lose the totebaggers and you can kiss the capri pants voters goodbye too. This is a very slippery slope.

  35. 35
    BGinCHI says:

    Doug, have you tried setting yourself on fire in a public place?

    I mean metaphorically of course.

  36. 36
    Keith G says:

    A lot of you get angry when I say that most of the totebaggers I know like to rock out to the smooth sounds of David Brooks.

    I have problems with wide ranging biases based on stereotypes. I think it is sloppy/immature thinking. It’s a behavior we love to call the other side out for doing.

    At least you are narrowing down the population involved by disclaiming, “…most of the totebaggers I know….”

    Most of the public media devotees I know are quite unimpressed with Mr. Brooks. Maybe you just need to make other choices of affiliation.

  37. 37
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Mary G:

    I went ballistic and made a long speech about how wrong all of this is, and they told me the same thing they had said last Thanksgiving when I lit into them for criticizing Obamacare. “You should start a blog, Mary.”

    I get “You should run for office, Mary.”

    And I always reply I should get smarter friends.

  38. 38
    BGinCHI says:

    I swear with Brooks it’s his “soothing voice.” He sounds reasonable so therefore he must be saying reasonable things.

    Some people are totally susceptible to “I heard it on the radio/I read it in the NYT and the guy’s voice/writing was very reasonable and non-threatening and so there must be something to it.”

    Skepticism is not an American strong point.

  39. 39
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    You lose the totebaggers and you can kiss the capri pants voters goodbye too. This is a very slippery slope.

    ZOMG, you’re talking about Laura Petrie here!

  40. 40

    Yes, someone I know who actually campaigned for Obama as part of OFA posted on FB today that pic of Romney and Obama at the White House saying what a class act Obama is for doing this (true) and then said something to the effect of, “maybe he’ll give Romney something like make him Secretary of Small Business … Romney used to be a progressive guy and he can use his know-how to stimulate small businesses.” I almost threw up all over my laptop. This is the quintessential David Brooks jerk-off idea.

  41. 41
    Mike E says:

    My sis sees value in Bobo eruptions, alas. His column appeared in the local rag under a Richard Cohen op/ed, I pointed at their pics and said to her, “I wanna beat him with [Cohen’s] body.” She was not amused.

    Now listening to NPR as Bobo clutches pearls over PBO’s insistence over the budget talks…EJ Dionne is smacking his shit down with a smile. The fact that a milquetoast “liberal” can so easily dismiss Bobo shouldn’t be lost on any canvasbagger.

  42. 42
    SatanicPanic says:

    @Mary G: Ah the old “shut up and take your opinions to an obscure corner of the internet”

  43. 43
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Do your friends know about the Applebee’s Salad bar?

  44. 44
    Lex says:

    Driftglass and Charlie Pierce. It bears repeating, so I’m repeating it: Driftglass and Charlie Pierce. If that don’t work, then the only way you’re going to get them to jettison Brooks is the same way they got Winston Smith to love Big Brother.

  45. 45
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    @Eric U.:

    totebaggers are constantly being told that Bobo is reasonable, ‘centrist’

    I’ve had some success with the right audience by posing this as a measurement problem:

    Pundit X is centrist?
    Really?
    How do you know this?
    What is the criteria for being ‘centrist’?

    If I asked you today to go out and measure just how centrist he is, how would you do it? ‘Just because some people say so’ doesn’t seem like a very good way of measuring these things, does it? Doesn’t that depend very much on just exactly who you’ve chosen in the way of ‘some people’ to listen to for validation? Doesn’t that just move the problem around without solving it? Wouldn’t it be better to just look directly at where this person stands on issues A,B and C and make up your mind whether their positions make any sense, as issues, and then grade them that way? How would it work if in the schools, instead of grading homework and tests, the teachers had somebody else tell them who the ‘centrist’ students were and then just handed out A’s to those students regarless of merit.

  46. 46
    Barry says:

    ” . . . frankly, it’s hard to tell someone this without insulting them.”

    1) I’m sure you don’t do it in a deliberately insulting tone or manner;
    2) sometimes a sharp slap to their sensabilities is the best thing for someone in this much of a vapid and checked out head-space.

    Just sayin’

  47. 47
    NonyNony says:

    @Jennifer:

    Maybe it’s just that the awfulness of Friedman’s prose doesn’t really sink in for everyone when they’re skimming a 500 word column, and once they pick up one of his books, there’s no escaping what a an ill-lettered nincompoop he is.

    I don’t think that’s it. Look – a lot of ink is spilled and a lot of television time is actually spent telling us that Tom Friedman is smart and worth listening to. Much of it is by Tom Friedman himself, but also by a network of people who are “trusted” to have decent opinions about this stuff.

    So when Joe Schmoe is told that Tom Friedman is an insightful commentator who is worth listening to by the New York Times (“why would they publish someone if they weren’t insightful and worth listening to?”), Joe Schmoe figures they know what they’re talking about. And if he can’t figure out why Friedman is supposed to be so great, well, he keeps it to himself because Friedman seems to know more about all this stuff than Joe does (“Friedman wrote a book on it! He must know more about it than me – I’ve just read a few articles about it.”). It’s only if there’s significant pushback against this worldview from someone else that Joe respects that it might allow Joe to figure out that Emperor Friedman is running through his flat world in his birthday suit.

    Same with David Brooks. Brooks is published by the New York Times and is a featured commentator on PBS and NPR. Clearly David Brooks must be smart and know what he’s talking about or else those organizations wouldn’t keep inviting him back to write/comment for them!

  48. 48
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @Mark S.:

    I could see thinking Bobo isn’t nearly as bad as most other right-wing fuckheads, but thinking he’s brilliant?

    Don’t be a playa hata; yo.

  49. 49
    NonyNony says:

    @Just Some Fuckhead:

    I get “You should run for office, Mary.”

    Your name is Mary? I never would have guessed!

    And I always reply I should get smarter friends.

    Ah. Friends who know your name isn’t Mary. Got it.

  50. 50
    Just Some Fuckhead says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Do your friends know about the Applebee’s Salad bar?

    Where do you think Doug has these earnest conversations with them?

  51. 51
    srv says:

    @Metrosexual Manichean Monster DougJ: Why don’t you write a short primer on the Sins of Bobo and keep these handy? Isn’t there a BoboWatch some where? Even McMegan had some hate sites.

  52. 52
    GregB says:

    Tell them you talked to a cabby at the Applebee’s salad bar who told you Brooks was merely a courtier to the power elite who sole reason for being was making fascist opinions sound light, fluffy and palatable to the untrained consumer.

  53. 53
    rikyrah says:

    here’s an OT for you:

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA AH HA

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA AH HA

    BWA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA HA

    Ok, I’ve caught my breath, now.

    It was one HUGE GRIFT.

    From beginning to end.

    Willard was one big long con for them.

    hilarious.

    134 to 6

    134 to 6

    But, Willard was oh so ready to be President of the United States, because he was a rich, White businessman.

    134 – 6

    HEE HEE HEE

    …………………………………………………………….

    WASHINGTON — Mitt Romney’s campaign has directed $134.2 million to political firms with business ties to his senior staff, spotlighting the tightknit nature of his second presidential bid and the staggering sums being spent in this election.

    Nine firms that are run by, or recently employed, top Romney aides have received almost a third of the $435.8 million that Romney’s campaign and a related fundraising committee have spent on operating expenses through Oct. 17, according to a Los Angeles Times analysis of federal election finance reports.

    President Obama’s reelection campaign and a joint fundraising committee have paid about $5.8 million in consulting fees to companies with business ties to senior strategists, according to the finance reports.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/na.....4625.story

  54. 54
    Mandalay says:

    @BGinCHI:

    I swear with Brooks it’s his “soothing voice.” He sounds reasonable so therefore he must be saying reasonable things.

    It’s funny you suggest that, because I have thought the same of Bill Kristol. He also has a soothing voice, he never gets edgy, he smiles a lot, and he sounds so reasonable if you don’t listen to what he is actually saying.

    But he is also invariably wrong, and all his ideas are batshit insane, but all that somehow gets overlooked.

  55. 55
    Hattie says:

    God I know. Honestly, there is no way to get through to these people and it’s a waste of time to try. They don’t seem to understand how outrageous his ideas really are. I always let them know how I feel, just to make myself feel better, but he’s on PBS and therefore, like them, respectable.
    They also all like Bill Moyers, and don’t seem to see the difference between the two.
    It’s that white guy authority, the soothing voice of a man you can count on. It feels safe. Remember Louis Ruckheyser?

  56. 56
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    I chuckle to myself at the idea of a series of BJ front pager TED talks.

  57. 57
    kindness says:

    I think what DougJ really means is How do I talk to totebaggers who think Brooks is da bomb without blowing them out of the water?

    It would be much easier to say exactly what you really think but you may not have many future conversations with said totebaggers. Easy, not polite.

    The best analogy I find with Brooks is he always uses the exact same meme. He noodles around about a problem from on high proclaiming how ‘both sides’ are wrong. Then Brooks parachutes down on the Republican side proclaiming them best completely ignoring what he just noodled.

    Point out that Brooks is contradicting himself in creating a winner. The totebaggers still won’t like you, as if they are smart they will see you are talking about them as much as Brooks, but much more socially acceptable and polite.

  58. 58
    Legalize says:

    Half of my extended family are Totebaggers; the other half are professional lefties; and yet another half are wingnuts. They are all very serious and learned – and always wrong in different ways.

  59. 59
    different-church-lady says:

    Some people need to be insulted every once in a while. [shrug]

    I guess the way I’d approach it from the angle that there’s a whole lot of people in the country right now who can’t afford the luxury of flowing along with Bobo’s bubble-world of upper middle class capitalist aspiration and white people problems. (And yes, right now I’m one of them.) For these people it doesn’t matter if Applebee’s has a salad bar or not, because they’re not eating out anymore. They can’t afford “culture” as a hobby, and Brook’s thinking simply has no practical application to their lives.

  60. 60
    sylvan says:

    I just want to hear the smooth sounds of aggregate demand increasing overall economic activity and tax revenues.

  61. 61
    slag says:

    @srv: I like the idea of going on the offense. One technique I’ve employed when trying to persuade a “firebagger” to chill out a bit has been to regularly forward polling that indicates that the general public considers Obama “too liberal”. It really helps to keep referring back to the world as it is when you’re also spending a bunch of time arguing about the world as you want it to be.

    Maybe that’s what DougJ needs to do about DB. Relentlessly forward columns the DB writes blatantly illustrating his own jackassery, thereby undermining their opportunities to try to cherrypick his seemingly reasonable columns. That, and forwarding Kthug columns might also help. Fight NYTer with NYTer.

    Or, maybe DougJ should offer to tutor his friends in rhetoric on the side.

  62. 62
    MikeJ says:

    @rikyrah:

    President Obama’s reelection campaign and a joint fundraising committee have paid about $5.8 million in consulting fees to companies with business ties to senior strategists, according to the finance reports.

    This low number is relatively new among Democratic campaigns, and I believe one of the main reasons Clinton didn’t win.

  63. 63
    different-church-lady says:

    Also: I don’t view Brooks as right wing or left wing. I view him as smug wing. He’s got money. Everyone who pays attention to him in a positive way has money. People who don’t have money exist in some kind of odd theoretical realm to him, but they simply aren’t real individuals — they’re almost mythical.

    Totebaggers have an unfortunate trait: even though they’re smarter than the average bear, many of them have a blind spot. They have never given any thought to the idea that PBS totebags are a luxury for a lot of people. They live in a bubble just like Bobo does. They don’t hate the poor but they also never think about them.

  64. 64
    different-church-lady says:

    …most of the totebaggers I know like to rock out to the smooth sounds of David Brooks.

    They should rename The Onion “The Zeitgeist

  65. 65
    👽 Martin says:

    @slag:

    Practically no one gets angry when you say this. People get angry when you make sweeping generalizations classifying diverse groups of us based on your singular warped taxonomy. If you divested yourself from the project of inciting intraliberal culture wars, you would get more respect.

    So, DougJ is a left version of David Brooks?

  66. 66
    Bill Arnold says:

    @David in NY:

    I think you’ve got to focus on the alleged “brilliant” thing,

    This is the approach I take with my father, if Brooks’ schtick-of-the-day was particularly odious (sometimes it’s fine). Putting things in perspective though, he’s a lifelong Republican who switched to voting Democratic in 1992, and he watches Snooze Hour rather than Fox! I would intervene if he watched Fox, maybe by subtly damaging the coax to the TV or breaking the TV with a voltage spike or static electricity, or something.

  67. 67
    JoyfulA says:

    Here’s the classic takedown of David Brooks: http://www.phillymag.com/artic.....-paradise/

  68. 68
    different-church-lady says:

    OK, sorry for flooding, but I feel there’s a half-baked thought in my mind that could be important.

    Doug, what’s nagging you about this is that NPR people are smart people for the most part. And you’re thinking, “OK, smart people should be able to see through this BS.” But NPR “totebaggers” are also bubble people. They live in a somewhat closed middle to upper-middle class bubble of intellectual concerns. Brooks appeals to them because he presents his BS on “their” network using a wrapper of intellectual pursuit. They will listen to anyone that PBS makes a regular on their show, because they trust the comfort and safety of PBS without question. It’s not a news source to them, it’s part of their identity, it’s part of their social currency. They are not thinking, they’re vibing.

    I know this because I used to be one of them. And I still know far too many of them.

  69. 69
    slag says:

    @👽 Martin: That is one way in which DJ has internalized some of the behaviors traditionally (and more acceptably) exhibited by righties. But at least he’s earnest about it. DB is probably a little less earnest than DJ.

  70. 70
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @👽 Martin: Please, David Brooks is mathematically illiterate.

  71. 71
    Brachiator says:

    @Wag:

    We won the election without many of them.

    You won the election with many of them as well. As one poster noted, many of her friends donated to Obama.

    So, why so hot to write these people off?

  72. 72
    Corner Store Operator says:

    People so desperately do not want to be partisans. They think that if they say both sides do it, or that they are independent it suddenly means they have an open mind and are thinking critically about everything, when in our modern political landscape it actually requires an inability to think critically to be a reasonable centrist, to watch sunday morning shows, to eat up whatever Bobo is saying. If you actually had critical thinking capability watching the material that comes from those shows would be stupid, boring, and completely illogical.

    A colleague said to me, “well Scott Brown isn’t so bad for a Republican, you could do much worse.” Rather than go through a laundry list of Brown policy positions and inform him that he has been brainwashed to think Brown is ‘moderate’ I simply said, “I’ll take him as a senator from Alabama” which I’d like to think got my point across.

  73. 73
    DanF says:

    DougJ – Here is how you do it. You act like you’re really interested in their point of view, and don’t make statements, rather ask questions and/or play the less informed fool. E.g. “I know Brooks talked down the Gingrich and the Bachmann during the primary for their obvious insanity, but it’s not clear to me that their positions were any different than Romney’s … and Brooks backed Romney, right? Is that how you saw it? What were the differences between Mitt and Newt?” “Maybe you know, did he back Sarah Palin in 2008?”

    They’ll hem and haw and try to rationalize, or give you incorrect answers, but the seed gets planted. It’s worked for me in the past.

  74. 74
    slag says:

    @DanF: Oooh! Socratic Method FTW.

  75. 75
    Maude says:

    I’d change the subject and not say anything about Brooks.
    You can’t argue with belief.
    It isn’t worth upsetting people by trying to get them to change their vies.

  76. 76
    Capt. Seaweed says:

    @Original Lee:

    …looking for the hook hidden in the chum.

    Oooo that’s a wonderful turn of phrase. Yours, or who?

  77. 77
    muddy says:

    @different-church-lady:

    They live in a bubble just like Bobo does. They don’t hate the poor but they also never think about them.

    This, 1000X this. And the same to your further comments.

    If it is on PBS or NPR they think it is even handed and intellectually stimulating. Good for you, like vegetables! I try to explain that these outlets are not what they used to be 10 years ago. The same as people I know who vote R because “my family has always been Republican”. Vermont R is not like national R, and 40 years ago is not like now. It’s like a loyalty to a brand name, your favorite cereal or something.

    I find these folks frequently take it personally if there is some hold-up in a restaurant, or waiting for healthcare when they have to wait longer than they were initially expecting. It never occurs that things go wrong in the back, something as simple as a couple workers not showing up or something. But *they* are on time to the office, so they don’t see why this backroom stuff is not as controlled and predictable.

    They don’t get that if you are poor, and you donate $10 to PBS, that’s a lot for you, but it’s not enough to get a totebag, so it doesn’t really count. The totebags are like bumperstickers for them.

  78. 78
    trollhattan says:

    There I was on election night, enjoying the unfolding crushing of the Good Ship Willard on PBS and David Fucking Brooks was there on my teebee–lifesize and in high def–doing his level best to crush my buzz and send it out to sea on a rapidly melting iceberg.

    I’ve never loathed him more, nor seen his schtick laid open more distinctly, for an extended period. He simply has nothing to add to the dialogue, but says nothing so soothingly it’s clear somebody is lapping it up. Either he believes his nonsense and is a fool, or he doesn’t and is a plain fraud. (Both? I don’t know how, but anyway.) What a toad.

  79. 79
    Wiesman says:

    I’ve been reading BJ for over 5 years now and I think I know what “totebagger” means from context but have never really been 100% sure. I know it has something to do with PBS or something. I dunno. Anyway I finally decided to look it up in the Lexicon and it wasn’t there.

    If you’re going to insist on using it (and clearly you are) then maybe someone could add it to the Lexicon.

    kthx

  80. 80
    different-church-lady says:

    I try to explain that these outlets are not what they used to be 10 years ago.

    I feel very much the same, but try as I might I still can’t put my finger on just why. It’s more than just R vs. D and threats of funding cuts. It’s more that both PBS and NPR have so fallen in love with themselves that they’ve started to become hollow imitations of what they used to be. They care more about the sound and the feel than what the content actually is. Doug is more on the spot about the “smooth sounds” than he thinks.

    They don’t get that if you are poor, and you donate $10 to PBS, that’s a lot for you, but it’s not enough to get a totebag, so it doesn’t really count. The totebags are like bumperstickers for them.

    And your comment jarred a further thought loose in my head: it’s not just the money that’s a luxury, it’s the time too. You don’t have any brain space left to mull over the wisdoms of this or that pundit because your brain is spending every moment trying to figure out how to glue together enough income.

    I used to adore cooking magazines. Now every once in a while I come across one, thumb through it, and say to myself, “Oh, yeah, I remember when I used to have the time to care about this stuff. I didn’t realize how easy I had it back then.” It’s like looking at old snapshots of a planet I used to live on a long time ago. Plan a dinner party? Hell, even if I still had the money to buy food for my friends I couldn’t take the chance on having to turn down a last minute paying job that night. I couldn’t take it for granted I’d have time for shopping. We’re not talking about the color of the sea salt here, we’re talking about having enough time to even *think* about things like salt.

  81. 81
    kindness says:

    @Wiesman: It is PBS/NPR. C’mon, you knew that.

    While it might feel good gutting a Nice Polite Republican, many Totebaggers would be horrified at the incivility of it all. Never mind that the same Nice Polite Republicans want to gut Granny & da poor, but they do so in such soothing tones. They can’t be bad, can they? Yes they can.

    Where’s my gutting knife?

  82. 82
    👽 Martin says:

    @Wiesman: It basically refers to a middle class, or aspiring middle class liberal, who desires to learn about the world without putting in the work to actually learn about the world. Basically “Everything I need to know I learned from Ira Glass or David Brooks”. They want to know how to be conversant about cars, but never drove anything but a Prius, let alone changed a tire on one, but they’ve listed to a lot of Car Talk so they’re good to go.

  83. 83
    replicnt6 says:

    Share it, MetroManicDougJ.

    The wife and I have friends who are total totebaggers. We went to a dinner part a year or so ago and totebagger A had gotten totebagger B a birthday present of Bobo’s latest book. It was all we could do to keep quiet. Well, we probably chuckled to ourselves. We’ve made a point of not challenging them, because they are really, truly wonderful, lovely people who just happen to listen to too much NPR and PBS.

    I did recently have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to school my mom in Bobo-ology. She’s a total fucking sockalist but still Bobo-symp. She emailed me that she’d seen Sasha Isenberg speak and found him extremely interesting. The name sounded familiar and googling yielded his classic Boo Boos in Paradise, which I promptly emailed her. She very much enjoyed it and I think she’ll look at Bobo with a bit more skepticism in the future.

    I think the only way to deal with this is without losing friends is to have a good recent example of his bullshit ready at hand. If Bobo comes up, you can say, “Yes, he sometimes sounds reasonable, but what he wrote recently is just right-wing talking points wrapped up in a pretty package for people like us”. And then go on to explain just how.

    I had a hard time convincing my sister that NPR spewed right-wing framing until the debt ceiling fight. I pointed out that NPR was constantly referring to this as “partisan squabbling”, when we could all see that it was right-wing hostage-taking.

    A good example is an eye-opener. Sadly, I rarely remember them when I need them.

  84. 84
    danielx says:

    You could always try telling them that David Brooks is the editorial equivalent of Kenny G with a side helping of Michael Bolton (will no one rid me of this musical horror?), but they might be fans.

  85. 85
    Ohio Mom says:

    What bothers me the most about totebaggers is that their committment to liberalism seems rather tenuous.

    Sure, they are reliable Democratic voters — we spent part of Thanksgiving with one side of the family, part with the other, all solid totebaggers, and all of them shuddered at the thought Romney could have won and all were gleeful that Obama’s been given another four years. That was heartening.

    But the rest of the time, it was mostly one conservative talking point after another, mainly that poor people don’t work hard enough at escaping their poverty. These relatives are all in the bubble of secure upper middle-class comfort. They don’t know anyone who isn’t like them.

    I just wonder how long they will stay Democratic. They seem awfully susceptible to the sort of tripe pundits like Brooks spout. The question, “How do you reason with people like this?” is really important because I think we could lose them if we aren’t careful.

  86. 86
    Corner Store Operator says:

    @Ohio Mom: Why are these people Democrats in the first place? I would imagine it is the social and cultural issues keeping them in the party? That has been my experience. I don’t need to educate folks on women having a right to their own bodies but I do need to lay down some knowledge when it comes to labor unions, social security, etc.

  87. 87
    Baud says:

    The problem with telling totebaggers not to listen to Brooks is that it makes them feel young and rebellious when the listen to Brooks, which just makes Brooks all the more attractive.

  88. 88
    Corner Store Operator says:

    @replicnt6: One of my favorite Brooks anecdotes from Meet the Press that I like to use whenever he (or Meet the Press) gets brought up. Brooks is talking about Donald Trump here…

    BROOKS: I think he’s much deeper. The guy’s been around since the ’80s, and he stands for something. He stands for success, the gospel of success, that you can start out small and make it big in this country. Not that he did, but, but, but he stands for that.

    http://mediamatters.org/blog/2.....ump/179050

  89. 89
    gaderson says:

    Yes, I hear this from my parents all the time, but, my Dad will be getting the K-thug book for Christmas and I’ll keep it up (they both gave to Obama for both elections, I think).

    But, I’ve noticed lately at the family diner table (both immediate and the wider family, Thanksgiving, etc.) that politics has been a lot more readily talked about (mostly making fun of Romney by my Uncle a big-time lawyer in SF).

    Even have the great story of my more conservative aunt, who’s married to a Baptist preacher who was doing his own reasonable people…”Santorum is a Christian like us…” where she threatened to divorce him if he gave Rick money. Even she could see the ‘war on women’.

    Now my Mom and her siblings grew up in a Rescue Mission in Indiana so they have a much better grasp of being poor and insite to racial relations so I think the cognitive dissonance is getting great enough that they realize they have to go one way or the other.

  90. 90
    TG Chicago says:

    @DougJ: What specifically did Bobo say that was so allegedly insightful? Rather than attack Bobo (ad hominem fallacy), why not attack what he said?

    Don’t get me wrong — I generally agree with your opinion of Brooks, but you’re not going to persuade Bobophilic totebaggers that their man is a monster. Not in one fell swoop, anyway. If you want to win them over, you have to go after the specifics a few times before you can make a grander case.

  91. 91
    different-church-lady says:

    Wait a minute, the penny just dropped… Brooks is Charlie Nicholson from High Fidelity:

    And then it dawns on me. Charlie’s awful. She doesn’t listen to anyone, she says terrible, stupid things, she apparently has no sense of humor at all, and talks shit all night long. Maybe she’s been like this all along. How did I manage to edit all this out?”

    Totebaggers are Rob before his realization at the dinner party.

  92. 92
    Donald says:

    What’s a totebagger? Gotta google that. Maybe someone answered upthread, but I didn’t read it.

    But yeah, I know two older people (not that I’m young) who are liberal or relatively so and they both like and respect David Brooks. I like them, so it’s hard to just come right out and scream “Are you out of your mother-fracking mind?” In one case I said something to the effect that he comes across as someone who wants to seem reasonable, but actually supports war crimes (he did, back in the days before Abu Ghraib, write in his soulful way about the need to tolerate American war crimes–I forget exactly how he put it.) It didn’t go over well. In the other case I just bit my tongue. That hurts, btw.

  93. 93
    JGabriel says:

    __
    __
    DougJ @ Top:

    I told them the truth, that Bobo simply produces propaganda that is designed to appeal to people like them, but, frankly, it’s hard to tell someone this without insulting them.

    Tell them Bobo is insulting their intelligence.

    .

  94. 94
    slag says:

    @👽 Martin:

    It basically refers to a middle class, or aspiring middle class liberal, who desires to learn about the world without putting in the work to actually learn about the world. Basically “Everything I need to know I learned from Ira Glass or David Brooks”. They want to know how to be conversant about cars, but never drove anything but a Prius, let alone changed a tire on one, but they’ve listed to a lot of Car Talk so they’re good to go.

    And this seeming epistemic puritanism is exactly what makes it stupid. The idea that there’s some perfect channel or combination of channels through which knowledge and awareness travels is absurdly counterproductive. And appreciating that reality doesn’t take away from the fact that David Brooks is—and will probably always be—a flaming jackass.

  95. 95
    karen marie says:

    @Tim (The Other One): Yes, it is.

  96. 96
    Tonal Crow says:

    @NonyNony:

    Same with David Brooks. Brooks is published by the New York Times and is a featured commentator on PBS and NPR. Clearly David Brooks must be smart and know what he’s talking about or else those organizations wouldn’t keep inviting him back to write/comment for them!

    Exactly. It’s The Big Lie.

  97. 97
    Ohio Mom says:

    @Corner Store Operator: They Democrats because they’ve always been Democrats — their parents loved, loved, loved Roosevelt, and most of them are Jewish (our families, like many these days are mixed). They don’t like fundamentalists telling them what they ought to believe or do.

    They also know it is wrong to be prejudiced against minorities and they know it is a good idea to have a war on poverty, even as they are getting a little foggy on the causes and scope of prejudice and poverty. They are also, as you point out, getting foggier and foggier on labor issues — a result, no doubt, of being the generation to make it into the managerial class.

    Mostly though, they are victims of the Overton Window shifting. They don’t notice the Window isn’t where it used to be and that the view is different. And Bobo is part of making that window shift for them.

  98. 98
    Bruce S says:

    “Bobo simply produces propaganda that is designed to appeal to people like them, but, frankly, it’s hard to tell someone this without insulting them”

    And?

  99. 99
    karen marie says:

    @rikyrah: That was from the end of October. I’d like to see final numbers. My guess is it’s even worse.

  100. 100
    Metrosexual Manichean Monster DougJ says:

    @different-church-lady:

    Awesome.

  101. 101
    LosGatosCA says:

    @Original Lee:

    That is a most excellent analogy. He (the HR guy and Brooks) almost comes across as sincere and a little apologetic as he explains that it’s killing him that those benefits (safety net) you are losing hurt him more than you, but nothing can be done because, you know, free market, competitive pressure, and off shoring.

    And through all the downsizing the HR guy is kept on, gets raises even by keeping proles focusing on the empathy the HR guy is exuding combined with the ‘it’s really nobody’s fault’ you are totally screwed presentation.

  102. 102
    Jebediah says:

    @Metrosexual Manichean Monster DougJ:

    I’m different in real life.

    I love this sentence.

  103. 103
    mattH says:

    Is David Brooks going to have to choke a bitch?

  104. 104
    BethanyAnne says:

    This is prolly a dead thread, but one tack I’d take is offering a different media diet. I didn’t convince my mom that PBS was wrong. I just got her hooked on watching Rachel. Watching Up with Chris Hayes was a pretty natural follow on to that. Her opinions followed from her information. I guess a hook might be saying that Brooks offers one take on the news, but you’ve found that the younger folk have a different take. And then offer those shows as a source of other information.

  105. 105
    Ellyn says:

    That’s hilarious. Much better to laugh than to nurse my rage against PBS and NPR for betraying me.

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