The Private Intellectual
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Friday, November 13, 2009  

David Brooks Mad Libs
UPDATED

Some days the [major political party] seems to be going crazy. Its public image is often shaped by people who appear to have gone into government because they saw it as a steppingstone to [something weirdos do].But deep in the bowels of the [major party], there are serious people having quiet conversations. The people holding these conversations created and admired [recently elected politician]'s perfectly executed [state] [office] campaign. And now as they look to the future of their party, and who might lead it in 20[multiple of four], the name [U.S. Senator] keeps popping up.

As you may or may not know, [name, above] is the [junior/senior] senator from [state David Brooks would never visit], the man who beat [political veteran] in an epic campaign five years ago. The first thing everybody knows about him is that he is [impressive masculine adjective], tanned (in a [romantic adjective] sort of way) and handsome.... If you wanted a [major party] with the same general body type and athletic grace as Barack Obama, you’d pick [name].

The second thing people say about him is that he is unfailingly [three adjectives for people who do not live on coasts]. He grew up in [semi-plausible small-town name], population [number under 1,000]. His [parent] was a [military job] in [war] and a genuine war hero. He was called back home after the war to work in the family [wholesome business] and went on to become a [noble-sounding profession], as did his wife.

[Name] was a high school [sport] star and possesses idyllic small-town manners, like the perfect boy in a [cultural reference that inaccurately invokes wholesomeness]. He appears to be untouched by [characteristic of David Brooks and his social set]. In speeches and interviews, he is straightforward, intelligent and [adjective connoting stupidity, but more positive]. He sometimes seems to have emerged straight into the 21st century from a more wholesome time.

...

[Members of major party] are still going to have to do root-and-branch renovation if they hope to provide compelling answers to issues like middle-class economic anxiety. But in the meantime, people like [name] offer [members of major party] a way to connect fiscal discipline with traditional small-town values, a way to tap into rising populism in a manner that is optimistic, uplifting and nice.

UPDATE: As Matt points out, this is basically just Brooks inflating some nonsense with adjectival hot air. Thune is a deficit hawk, except when he votes for $3.1 trillion in tax cuts. He says bad things about the bailouts but actually voted for TARP (then, as Yglesias says, "after Inauguration Day turned around and started hypocritically slamming them while going to war on behalf of financial services companies looking to avoid regulation").

Writing a weekly column is hard, but there just isn't any reason to produce this junk. It would be a good set-up for a serious column on the contradictions the GOP has to face between its policies and its anti-deficit rhetoric for instance, or on the problematic politics of regulatory reform. But these are questions Brooks does not seem interested in. He's never met a policy problem that can't be addressed with a thick coat of abstract nouns: for Afghanistan, "resolve;" for spending, "restraint;" for domestic policy, "modesty." Nobody has any business paying someone for that sort of blather.

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posted by Benjamin Dueholm | 7:49 AM
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