Reading Mr. Brooks’ essay on the Pope and his argument about his ‘subversive message’ it seems quite obvious that the Pope and Mr. Brooks have one commonality above all others : to put a humane face on the institutions that they head. The Pope is head of a church mired in a trans-generational crisis of pedophile priests and a hierarchy that betrayed it’s responsibility to protect and provide a safe place for it’s children. That hierarchy betrayed the trust of it’s parishioners and demonstrated an utter contempt for the law!
Mr. Brooks is president of the American Enterprise Institute: a think tank that specializes in Capitalist apologetics. It’s members and former members and associates are a motley collection of Conservatives ,Neo-Conservatives, War mongers and even a Neo-Confederate/Originalist:
John Bolton, Lynne Cheney, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Paul Wolfowitz, Kevin Hassett, Frederick W. Kagan, Leon Kass, Charles Murray, Norman J. Ornstein, Christina Hoff Sommers, Peter J. Wallison, and Mark J. Perry, Arthur burns, David Gergen, James C. Miller III, Laurence Silberman, Antonin Scalia, Irving Kristol, Jeane Kirkpatrick, Michael Novack, Ben Wattenberg.
I hated to belabor the point with this catalog of prominent Conservatives, but Mr. Brooks faces a similar challenge, that the Pope has been very adroit at managing: the fact that nothing has changed since the days of Conservative capo Ratzinger, no church dogmas have changed , just that the new Pope is again a more humane presence. He is a more approachable, affable and accepting pontiff. To be cynical, the new Pope is a more Public Relations savvy pontiff, than either of the arch-reactionaries John Paul II or Benedict XVI
The point about AEI and Mr. Brooks is that since the Economic Collapse of 2008 and the depredations of Austerity, and the succeeding economic doldrums, not to speak of the precipitous rise of inequality: first brought to national attention by Occupy Wall Street and then fully established in the political conversation by the publication Piketty’s book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has put the hucksters of the Free Market in an untenable position. The opportunity that Mr. Brooks’ New York Times column offers in terms of Public Relation/ Propaganda is the he is now the face of kinder gentler Conservatism, hence the title of his book ‘The Conservative Heart’. His column attempts to put a new humane stamp on a Conservatism that can only be called, like Social Dawinism, red in tooth and claw. The Pope’s Public Relations savvy, as an expression of a self-rescue attempt, resonates with Mr. Brooks’ attempt to rescue Conservatism from it’s well deserved reputation for mendacity, lawlessness and contempt for long established civic republican values.
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