Instapundit links to David Brooks’s latest repellent column, in which he uses the old trick of repeating the same self-abasing apology over and over and over in the hopes that his audience will say, “Well, gee, don’t beat yourself up over it; it wasn’t that big a deal”:
Being a sap, I still believe that the president’s soul would like to do something about the country’s structural problems.* I keep thinking he’s a few weeks away from proposing serious tax reform and entitlement reform. But each time he gets close, he rips the football away. He whispered about seriously reforming Medicare but then opted for changes that are worthy but small. He talks about fundamental tax reform, but I keep forgetting that he has promised never to raise taxes on people in the bottom 98 percent of the income scale.
The president believes the press corps imposes a false equivalency on American politics. We assign equal blame to both parties for the dysfunctional politics when in reality the Republicans are more rigid and extreme. There’s a lot of truth to that, but at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think. The White House gives moderates little morsels of hope, and then rips them from our mouths. To be an Obama admirer is to toggle from being uplifted to feeling used.
The White House has decided to wage the campaign as fighting liberals. I guess I understand the choice, but I still believe in the governing style Obama talked about in 2008. I may be the last one. I’m a sap.
Why, yes, you are! And a ninny. Not that that’s anything new. Years ago, someone (I think Diana Mertz Hsieh, though I can’t seem to find it in her archives) made the point that a lot of people who congratulate themselves on how “moderate” they are are trying to prioritize several conflicting things at once. Packaging themselves as friendly and accommodating means they don’t have to make hard decisions about priorities or look for the flaws in their own logic. It means they can think they sound saintly, rather than moronic, when they bleat things like “I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country.” Which stale ideological debates? Those in which each of the two major parties is at pains to show that the other has a worse record of pork-barreling and pandering to beneficiaries of major entitlements? Okay. I’m happy to call that one a draw.
But then we still have the debates over how much earnings the government should commandeer and spend, whether the government should try to pick winners and losers in industry, and how best to exercise our role as a superpower. We may get sick of discussing those things, but they’re only “stale” if you wish the opposing side would just shut up and accommodate you already.
Also, hovering in there is the unsavory implication that those who let themselves be duped by Obama are still superior because they were motivated by caring too much. Brooks ends, after all, with yet another “I’m a sap,” not “I’ve learned my lesson and won’t let sentiment get in the way of my principles again.” This is the sort of thing I’m seeing a lot of here in New York: acknowledging that one was a sucker for Obama’s rhetoric but concluding that, really, it’s better to be hopeful, optimistic, willing to take chances, willing to believe…than to be a crabby, cynical libertarian like some other people in the room.
Sorry—no sale. I feel a great deal of sympathy for those who agonized over their vote in 2008, recognized that they were making a necessary compromise, and decided that Obama’s excesses would probably be reined in by the rest of the Washington machine. I feel no sympathy whatever for people who were more concerned with affirming their own ability to dream than with looking reality in the face. (And yes, I know that Brooks may not be a naturalized citizen and may not have been able to vote; his cheerleading was offense enough.)
* And you thought repellent was too strong a word, didn’t you?