David Brooks is adept at mimicking the rhetorical style of rational argument,but only in self-defense. Mr. Brooks only argues in ideological terms that have the ability to move the political discourse in a favorable partisan direction. We can see quite clearly that the end of the Free Market,in collapse in 2008,and the measures taken by two Presidents to ameliorate a looming economic disaster, precipitated a momentous change in Mr. Brooks economic allegiance. From the free market ideology to a stance of Austerity, as a rational defense of fiscal responsibility, within the self made crisis of Capitalism. The efforts made by government were Keynesian in nature and antithetical to the economic worldview of a Conservatism that watched as their brainchild died a grisly death at the hands of its custodians and practitioners. An arresting and sobering moment for a class of thinkers that spent the better part of a generation in explication and defense of the political and ethical viability of their master idea. That it failed with such speed and devastating consequences seems to have passed by its advocates, its apologists, who have now moved on to their next big idea of Austerity. The Austerity to be practiced will not be practiced by the 1%, but by the middle and lower economic classes. All that being said, the opening paragraph of Mr. Brooks essay of April 16,2012 titled The White House Argument is instructive:
“I’ve been critical of President Obama’s budgets. I’ve argued that while I like the way Obama preserves spending on things like scientific research and programs for the vulnerable, he doesn’t do enough to avoid a debt crisis.”
Mr. Brooks speaks of a ‘Debt Crisis’ as if it were real, or at least a looming reality, while avoiding the issue of our present economic quandary. Is the present policy of Austerity working? The evidence, world wide, seems to point in a modified Keynesian direction. Paul Krugman would be the very literate,articulate champion of that position; who regularly makes Mr. Brooks’ low grade propaganda seem like exactly what it is.
What follows this is a long complex explanation and defense of the Ryan Budget, with all the appropriate intellectual garnish, as fiscally sound and politically/ethically the only answer, argued in his usual hectoring tone. In sum he makes his case for a disingenuous President Obama, by circuitous means.
“I’m not going to pass my own comprehensive judgment on this here. I’ll just say that my conversations reaffirm my conviction that Obama is a pragmatic liberal who cares about fiscal sustainability, who has been willing to compromise for its sake, but who has not offered anything close to a sufficient program to avoid a debt crisis.”
After his encomium to the Ryan Budget which acts rhetorically as an indictment of the demonstrable mendacity of the President, he couches his argument in terms of his ‘comprehensive judgment’ deferred as exemplary of his a priori notion of superior ethical/political judgment. The assertion that the President is a ‘pragmatic liberal’ is ludicrous on it’s face: he is a conservative New Democrat in every way. Mr. Brooks is wide of the mark, but only in service to ideological ends.
“If he doesn’t have a passion for fiscal stability, he’ll campaign on side issues and try to win by scaring everybody about the other side.”
Mr. Brooks then accuses the President of possible, attempted fear mongering. The cumulative evidence of the political irrationalism of the present day Republican Party is well established in the public mind . One need only watch ‘Fox News’ for an arresting confirmation of that perilous political reality.