Trespassing on DougJ’s turf, for your amusement: Jon Chait in NYMag explains that “David Brooks Is Now Totally Pathological“:
Moderate Republicanism is a tendency that increasingly defies ideological analysis and instead requires psychological analysis. The psychological mechanism is fairly obvious. The radicalization of the GOP has placed unbearable strain on those few moderates torn between their positions and their attachment to party. Many moderate conservatives have simply broken off from the party, at least in its current incarnation, and are hoping or working to build a sane alternative. Those who remain must escape into progressively more baroque fantasies.
The prevalent expression of this psychological pain is the belief that President Obama is largely or entirely responsible for Republican extremism. It’s a bizarre but understandable way to reconcile conflicting emotions — somewhat akin to blaming your husband’s infidelity entirely on his mistress. In this case, moderate Republicans believe that Obama’s tactic of taking sensible positions that moderate Republicans agree with is cruel and unfair, because it exposes the extremism that dominates the party, not to mention the powerlessness of the moderates within it. Michael Gerson recently expressed this bizarre view, and the pathology is also on vivid display in David Brooks’s column today.
Brooks begins by noting that the Grand Bargain on the deficit, which he has spent the last two years relentlessly touting, is not actually possible. Why is it impossible? Because, he writes, “A political class that botched the fiscal cliff so badly are not going to be capable of a gigantic deal on complex issues.”
Oh, the political class? That’s funny. In 2011, Obama offered an astonishingly generous budget deal to House Republicans, and Brooks argued at the time that if the GOP turned the deal down, it would prove their “fanaticism.” Naturally, they turned it down…
What Obama should be doing in response, Brooks argues, is push for policies that provoke no opposition even from the craziest of the Republicans: “We could do some education reform, expand visa laws to admit more high-skill workers, encourage responsible drilling for natural gas, maybe establish an infrastructure bank.” Brooks argues that these issues would be uncontroversial enough to “erode partisan orthodoxies and get back into the habit of passing laws together.” Then, maybe we could pass some laws under a future president.
Note that solving actual problems is besides the point here. Brooks is almost explicit about this. He begins with the need for initiatives that he thinks will lead to happiness and comity between the parties in Washington, and then comes up with policies that might fit the bill. Not surprisingly, viewed from the standpoint of an agenda designed to make life better for Americans in some way, shape or form, Brooks’s proposed agenda is strange….
Seriously, y’all need to go read the whole thing, becasue the fisking is entertaining as well as epic.
Apart from pointing & mocking, or perhaps implementing one’s inaugural party plans, what’s on the agenda for the weekend?