08/12/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

David Brooks' Magical Mystery Tour of Barack Obama

On Face the Nation yesterday, the right-wing pundit David Brooks offered his sage advice to the John McCain campaign: "In the short term they have to try to define him [Barack Obama] as someone who thinks he's above everyone else. And in truth, he's a kind of elusive guy. I've been studying Obama for a long time, I have no idea who they are." Later in the interview Brooks added: "the thing about Obama is the guy's written two autobiographies, but it's still hard to find out who he was."

Although David Brooks claims to have been "studying Obama for a long time," I would suggest that in the future he uses a far more rigorous, less partisan, and more objective methodology.

It might be a good idea for Brooks to turn his awe-inspiring analytical skills to "studying" John McCain who is far more perplexing and mysterious than Barack Obama given his constantly shifting stands on virtually all of the key issues.

Brooks should ask: Who is John McCain?

Is he the "maverick" who stakes out positions independent of Republican orthodoxy or is he the party apparatchik who votes with the Bush Administration 95 percent of the time?

Is McCain the guy who opposed Bush's tax breaks for the wealthy and giant corporations or the one who is now calling for making those same regressive tax breaks permanent?

Is McCain the candidate who called Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell "agents of intolerance" or the candidate who grovels at their feet seeking their imprimatur for his current presidential bid?

Is McCain the politician who sought to deal with immigration in a comprehensive way or the one who is now pandering to nativist anti-immigrant fears?

Is McCain the guy who voted against a national holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1983 or the guy who commemorated the 40th anniversary of King's death with a campaign stop at the Lorraine Motel?

Barack Obama, given the record-setting length of the 2007-2008 Democratic primary season and the fact that he is the first African-American candidate to make it this far, has been one of the most scrutinized and analyzed presidential candidates in American history. He has two best-selling books that are remarkable for their honesty and candor about his own life. His story is uniquely American. More so than McCain, Obama pulled himself up by his own bootstraps coming from a single-parent bi-racial household that utilized social services like food stamps to make ends meet. Early in his life, Obama decided to dedicate himself to a life in public service. Along the way he married Michelle and had two daughters.

Where is this mysterious "void" in Barack Obama's background that David Brooks and other right-wing commentators keep wringing their hands about?

Brooks and other Republican media mouthpieces want to repeat over and over again the Big Lie that Obama is "elusive" and an "unknown entity" to make it easier for John McCain and his minions to define Obama in their terms. This tactic serves two purposes: it raises doubts about Obama and distracts the public from McCain's hypocrisy and inconsistencies.

On Face the Nation, Brooks also expressed his puzzlement about the idea that "we're the ones we've been waiting for?" According to the CBS transcript, Brooks asks: "Why have been [sic] -- we been waiting if we're the ones we've been waiting for?"

Let me answer this garbled question for you David.

It all depends on who you include in the word "we." You have been a water-carrier for the myths and illusions of the Bush-Cheney-Rove era. You are not part of the "We." Obama is trying to cut through the official lies and propaganda that you continue to perpetuate. Remember all those nice words you wrote about the "Ownership Society" at the time when Bush was trying to privatize Social Security? I haven't heard a peep out of you about the "Foreclosure Society."

Brooks' pop-sociology about Obama reminds me of the kind of "analysis" one finds in the waiting room of a dentist's office where there's nothing else to read but outdated issues of Readers Digest.

(I'd like to acknowledge Dr. Stan Oden's contributions to this one.)