Column 2005-7-17 Commentary
To the unitiated, Brooks's latest might suggest that Brooks is a fair-minded conservative. He praises Robert Kennedy, after all, and Theodore Roosevelt, who is hardly an icon to today's conservatives. And while he does wholeheartedly endorse McCain and Giuliani, they are somewhat outside of the modern conservative mainstream, and certainly not beloved by the lunatic Christian right. This faux reasonableness is Brooks's greatest (and, for that matter, only) weapon, which is one of the reasons why we feel this blog provides a valuable public service. After all, immediately below this entry, you can read about Brooks's recent appearance on NPR in which he did nothing but disgorge talking points in defense of Karl Rove. The radio appearance was only a couple of days before the column, so either Brooks went through a complete about-face in those days, or he is not quite the reasonable being that his newest New York Times offering suggests. A quick survey of the archives would rapidly convince anyone new to Brooks that reasonableness is the last attribute that would be associated with him, and allow such a person to dismiss this column as a rather transparent attempt to keep himself in the good graces of his largely liberal readers.
From this perspective, one can note that Giuliani turned himself into a Bush shill in the months leading up to the election (and how much courage does it take to attack "self-indulgent edifice of urban liberalism"? For that matter, what is the "self-indulgent edifice of urban liberalism"?) and that John McCain is far more conservative then is generally acknowledged (see the Daily Howler for more on McCain). Kennedy was undeniably liberal, but he is also safely dead, and is praised for his courage in fighting the mob, rather than for fighting for any liberal cause, such as social justice. Brooks's paean to "courage politicians" sounds nice and appeals to liberals who still dream of a Republican party that does not regard all liberals as traitors, but it's merely a distraction. The real David Brooks is the one lying through his teeth (or, at best, mindlessly repeating Republican talking points) to defend Karl Rove, and it's important not to lose sight of this fact.