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David Brooks Does a U-Turn

11/10/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

In his column after the vice presidential debate last week, the New York Times' David Brooks, a man with deep respect for erudition, surprisingly wrote of Sarah Palin's performance in the encounter, "She spoke with that calm, measured poise that marked her convention speech."

This week, according to Danny Shea's piece here on the Post, Brooks reversed gears. He appeared at a reception to introduce The Atlantic's new design and sat down for an open microphone interview with Jeffrey Goldberg. Brooks, a long-time conservative himself, talked about his roots in politics and sang the praises of William Buckley and Ronald Reagan, particularly that they were men "who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning." And then Brooks added, "But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I'm afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices." Shea reported that Brooks concluded, "She is 'absolutely not' ready to be president or vice president."

In his column today, Brooks reprises what he said in his interview, by repeating his praise of Buckley and Reagan and the high value they placed on ideas. Then Brooks goes on to lament the fact that over the past 15 years, the Republican Party has "decided to mobilize their coalition with a form of social class warfare." And that "the same argument has been heard from a thousand politicians and a hundred television and talk-radio jocks. The nation is divided between the wholesome Joe Six-packs in the heartland and the over-sophisticated, overeducated, over-secularized denizens of the coasts." Brooks then concludes, "But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin. Nobody so relentlessly divides the world between the 'normal Joe Six-pack American' and the coastal elite."

Welcome back to the high standards of the world of ideas, Mr. Brooks. Welcome back to erudition.