Some Days, It’s Enough That I Don’t Have To Cop To Having Gone To Yale…

…because if I had, I’d have to pull up my hoodie and duck my head to avoid association with this:

this “spring,” Brooks will be bringing his famed self and his less-well-known teaching credentials (?) to our very own campus.

And what’s he teaching? It would only make sense for this course to be called “Humility.” Brooks is not only a real big name in general but also kind of an expert on the topic—a quick Google search reveals that he’s written on it in the NYT and discussed it at the Aspen Ideas Festival—so we can pretty much agree that this is fitting. As if the irony weren’t already enough, this class is also a Global Affairs seminar, so, like, humility, guys. Perfect. Especially recommended if you were tempted by Grand Strategy but really just don’t have the ego for it.

That was in the Yale Bullblog.  The story then was picked up by New York Magazine’s Joe Coscarelli, who noted that the course promises to explore:

“The premise that human beings are blessed with many talents but are also burdened by sinfulness, ignorance, and weakness,” as demonstrated by men such as Moses, Homer, and others,” like maybe Paul Krugman.

It would, perhaps, be unkind for me to note that Mr. Brooks is in fact more qualified to teach this course than it might at first seem. After all, he does have much to be humble about.


(Apologies to the apocryphal Winston Churchill, and, I suppose, even more to the real Clement Atlee, who deserves better than to have Brooks mentioned in the same breath.)

But I should surrender pride of place to the invaluable Mr. Charles Pierce, who first led me to this little gem, and to whom I’ll give the last word:

I swear I’d almost pay someone to audit this mess.

Hell, Charlie!

Pass the hat.   I’m in.

That’s all I got tonight.  The sun is over the yardarm somewhere, which means that this thread is open, buckaroos.

ETA: I guess I could add this guy (the dead one) to my list of reasons to be glad I don’t bleed bulldog blue.

Image: Trophime Bigot, Allegory of Vanity, before 1650

55 replies
  1. 1
    Redshift says:

    I hang my mortarboard in shame.

  2. 2
    asiangrrlMN says:

    I think YOU should audit it, Tom. I would pay dearly to make it happen.

  3. 3
    hells littlest angel says:

    I’d like to go to that class, then afterwards hang out with my fellow students talking about how brilliant Brooks is. At the Applebee’s salad bar.

  4. 4
    Anya says:

    Typical Balloon Juice front pager distraction. Instead of yelling at Obama for selling us out once again, you’re distracting us with your fancy elitist art and Bobo posts.

  5. 5
    Spaghetti Lee says:

    Sounds like an easy class. For every essay question, just answer “There’s a proud classical liberal tradition of realizing that, for all our attempts at scientific objectivity, the answers to some questions are better left to natural human interaction.”

  6. 6
    Yutsano says:

    @asiangrrlMN: Make. It. So. I will help defray the costs for this to happen. And just for the LULz, NYD wants to go to Yale Law. Although secretly I’m hoping for Stanford. It’s a much shorter much cheaper plane ride.

    Hi hon. I r working but about ready to leave.

  7. 7
    MikeJ says:

    The sun is over the yardarm somewhere

    In the British navy, over the yardarm meant about 11am, time for grog. Knock yourself out.

    Yale? I yust got out.

  8. 8
    beltane says:

    I don’t want to nitpick, but do we really know enough about the historical Homer to expound on his sinfulness? Could it be that David Brooks is referring to Homer Simpson whose sinfulness we are far more acquainted with?

  9. 9
    Ash Can says:

    Actually, when I first heard about this travesty, my first thought was to wonder who the hell would want to squander course credits on this garbage. My immediate second thought was to wonder if there might be an unusually large number of students auditing the class just to have the chance to give this dolt a well-deserved hard time. I would certainly think highly of the Yale student body if this were the case.

  10. 10
    beltane says:

    @Spaghetti Lee: And you would surely receive bonus points for throwing in gratuitous references to Burke, Oakeshotte, and Niebuhr.

  11. 11
    mtraven says:

    Uriah Heep David Brooks can out-humble any of you mofos.

  12. 12

    A Bobo fan friend of mine informed me that brooks is much humbler than most pundits and as proof his book about the brain has a humble premise that we only understand about 5% of how the brain works. So accepting science is humility?

  13. 13
    hells littlest angel says:

    Complete class notes: Liberals believe we show humility by apologizing for America, while conservatives recognize that we demonstrate humility by acknowledging that Ronald Reagan was the greatest person ever.

  14. 14
    TooManyJens says:

    That the course isn’t called “Hayekian Modesty” is proof Bobo doesn’t love us.

  15. 15
    Mark S. says:


    I suppose he’s going to talk about how humble Achilles and Odysseus were. Because, you know, they weren’t.

  16. 16
    beltane says:

    Will David Brooks show up to class unshaven and barefoot and wearing sackcloth?

  17. 17
    Tom Levenson says:


    Dear Anya,

    Let me offer you a full refund for the cost of your subscription to Balloon Juice, always worth exactly what you paid for it.

    Bless your heart.

  18. 18
    Ash Can says:

    And since when is Brooks a theologian? On what authority does he fancy himself able to competently expound upon sin? Based on which religious doctrIne?

    I really have to wonder how indulgent the Yale students will be toward a fatuous celebrity pulling stuff out of his ass and trying pass himself off as a serious academic.

  19. 19
    beltane says:

    @Ash Can: The subject matter of this course really does seem to be more in line with Chunky Bobo’s vision of humanity. Has David Brooks gone Christian on us?

  20. 20
    Anya says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    Dear Tom,

    I reject your refund and demand that you get better acquainted with regular BJ trolls.

    Also, too, because I like your pretentious art, I will forgive you for the bless your heart thing.

    Not a troll

  21. 21
    brettvk says:

    @Tom Levenson: Anya may be satirizing posters in today’s threads. Or not.

  22. 22
    beltane says:

    Anya is not a troll. She is merely providing us with a synopsis of what all the other trolls have had to say today.

  23. 23
    arguingwithsignposts says:

    @Tom Levenson:
    Look about two threads down on Cole’s latest army post.

  24. 24
    brettvk says:

    @beltane: I’m guessing Yale went with Bobo because Chunky has insufficient gravitas to command the lectern, and the Mustache of Understanding charges too much.

  25. 25
    Librarian says:

    The fact that a supposedly great university like Yale is going to let this man teach a course is another sign of the dumbing down and the debasement of American academia. Our universities already have celebrity professors like Niall Ferguson who do almost no actual teaching and who are hired just for their names, so why not hire a celebrity columnist who has no academic credentials? It’s the logical next step.

  26. 26
    Tom Levenson says:

    @Anya: @arguingwithsignposts:

    Ah. My apologies.

    I have to admit that there are times when my day job does get in the way of staying up on the blog.

  27. 27
    Anya says:

    brettvk, arguingwithsignposts and beltane – thanks!

  28. 28
    brettvk says:

    @Ash Can: One of Brooks’ major shticks is telling liberals more-in-sorrow-than-in-anger why and how they have sinned against conservatism. It’s why he’s the liberals’ favorite conservative, you know.

  29. 29
    eemom says:


    Sheeyit, dude…..we have Naomi Wolf in our CLASS. And a litany of mortifying others not far off: Frum, Ruth Marcus, Milbank, IIRC, just to name a few. Ugh, ugh, ugh. Visiting professorship is small potatoes.

    And as for YOU, Professor Levenson: Harvard ain’t exactly an impeccable haven for the anti-Villager, last I heard.

  30. 30
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Yutsano: Let’s take up a collection!

    ::passes around chapeau::

    I hope NYD chooses Stanford for your wallet’s sake! He does know he has to be vetted by moi, right?

    @Anya: I thought you were a troll, too, until I sussed out your name. You’re damn good.

  31. 31
    Jerzy Russian says:

    @Redshift: I hang my mortarboard in shame.

    Same here. Christ in a crosswalk.

  32. 32
    Quincy says:

    @brettvk: Ha! The very thought of Friedman teaching a course on humility has sent me into convulsions.

  33. 33
    Nutella says:


    Brooks is not only a real big name in general but also kind of an expert on the topic—a quick Google search reveals that he’s written on it in the NYT and discussed it at the Aspen Ideas Festival—so we can pretty much agree that this is fitting.

    The fact that a supposedly great university like Yale has students who write (and publish!) sentences like this one –poorly phrased, ungrammatical, illogical, and incorrectly punctuated– is another sign of the dumbing down and the debasement of American academia.

  34. 34
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    I think your snark detector needs servicing.

    ETA: That’s what I get for commenting before refreshing the page. Oh well.

  35. 35
    Redshift says:

    @eemom: I take pride in knowing that Frum has been a smug bastard since his student days, but come on, they can hardly be faulted at the same level for not knowing how some bozos are going to turn out! With a visiting professor, they don’t have that excuse.

  36. 36
    Triassic Sands says:

    I hope the course is free — that way the students can get their money’s worth. Almost.

  37. 37
    Fair Economist says:

    Those who can’t do, teach.

  38. 38
    Anya says:

    @asiangrrlMN: :-c — I feel invisible. Did someone revoke my obot membership when I was not looking?

  39. 39
    asiangrrlMN says:

    @Anya: Like I said, once I saw your name, I knew you were in it for the FREE STUFF, but your imitation was spot-on.

  40. 40
    Anya says:

    @Triassic Sands: The course has no exam or something like that. Maybe it’s designed for college football players. Does Yale have a college football team?

  41. 41
    SinnedBackwards says:

    No doubt HoneyBoBo has thoroughly absorbed the wisdom of the Rev. Dr. Chasuble…

  42. 42
    danielx says:

    David Brooks on humility? What, Donald Trump couldn’t work it into his schedule?

  43. 43
    Yutsano says:


    Does Yale have a college football team?


    EDIT: HOLY CWAP! Their top player is a Canuckistani!!

  44. 44
    eemom says:


    I take pride in knowing that Frum has been a smug bastard since his student days, but come on, they can hardly be faulted at the same level for not knowing how some bozos are going to turn out! With a visiting professor, they don’t have that excuse.

    Fair point — though I will swear on a stack of Blue Books that Naomi Wolf had “insufferable hair tossing twat who will get a lifetime of undeserved attention from being a rich and well connected narcissist/exhibitionist” written all over her from the get go.

  45. 45
    Steeplejack says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    I’m wondering whether we can get together and get a good discount on a bulk purchase of snark-o-meters. A lot of people around here seem like they could use a new one.

  46. 46
    TheMightyTrowel says:

    @eemom: another Yale alum here hanging head in shame. not too surprised though, 04 had tom friedman as commencement speaker. in my year the only out and out embarrassment so far Jamie Kirchick a Sullivan alum and raving libertarian pro Israel weirdo thinks his republican allies don’t case he’s gay.

  47. 47
    A moocher says:

    @eemom:gee, you’re just a-brimming with Christmas cheer, aintcha. Allow me to pour you some eggnogg. I make mine with extra bile and battery acid. And sour grapes.

  48. 48
    Dave says:

    Fuck Yale. Fuck David Brooks. Fuck you.

  49. 49
    Mnemosyne says:


    I think the big emotional spike of Newtown messed up the calibration.

  50. 50
    Steeplejack says:


    Ah. They are sensitive devices. I keep mine balanced on a matched pair of gimbals. Worth the expense.

    Don’t know if you saw it: TV recommendation downstairs.

  51. 51
    Hkedi says:

    My first though was “Is the Yale crazy? Is David Broder insane?” but then I realized, I was repeating myself.

    If Yale university does not pull itself back from the brink, they will find themselves not a university of higher thought, but a university of higher connections without worth.

    Alas, I see I repeat myself again.

  52. 52
    eemom says:

    @A moocher:

    aw, don’t mind me, Naomi — there’s a new book to write! Legions of young feminists await “Cl*toris: The Sequel.”

  53. 53
    Dildo Bugger says:

    @Dave: fuck us? No, pardner, fuck you.

    Dildo Bugger of Bagend
    Yale College, Class of 1970

  54. 54
    Karounie says:

    Wouldn’t it be so much cooler if they invited him to guest lecture in the Sociology department? It was always like pulling teeth getting students to fulfill their “group 3” soft sciences requirement (of course that would be harder work for Prof. B)

    On an unrelated note: I sure wish I was going to have another child so I could name him or her “Trophime.”

  55. 55

    Since when has the Ivy League ever been about humility?


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