THE BLOG

Babbling Brooks

07/17/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Can we finally do away with the niceties of treating New York Times columnist David Brooks as some kind of reasoned conservative centrist providing 'balance' to the liberal media and finally admit he's just a nerdy (read; inoffensive) and more articulate mouthpiece of the same alternative reality spewed at us daily by Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and Bill O'Reilly?

Brooks' function is to convince reasoned, intelligent readers that the current conservative worldview is in fact more complicated, nuanced and principled than the empty soundbite projectile vomit spewed nightly on Fox News or from the mouths of wide-eyed psychotics like Michele Bachmann, Ann Coulter and Glenn Beck. His goal is for us to accept any view of governance other than the truth that's finally been laid bare these last eight years; 'conservative' is an empty catchphrase that takes a corporatist/super-rich vision of America and gussies it up to sound like aw-shucks populist common sense.

Surely a man this benign -- just like that nerdy racquet ball guy from down the hall who waves hello at your co-op board meeting -- can't be one of THEM; 'See, Honey, the principled American in me just knew there had to be a cogent, calm, reasoned centrist articulator of the viewpoint given a bad name by all those screaming fundamentalist ideologues that feel like Chewbacca behind a news desk in a cheap polyester suit. What a breath of soothing air.

Take Brooks' column on the healthcare 'debate' in today's New York Times, "You Be Obama." Even the title is chosen to lull us into imagining we're all in one big high school civics class or student UN where we can bloat with pride we live in a society with the freedom to discuss all sides of 'an issue' -- finally agreeing at the end, of course, that we can agree to disagree, because gee, that's what makes democracy great.

But 'You Be Obama?' Who could argue with that? How principled and civil of Professor Brooks to show us how open minded he is by spending a few rhetorical minutes in the shoes of President Obama -- wholly imagined shoes, but it just seems so darned partisan and bitter to point that out.

The second you envelop yourself in that egalitarian, hands-across-the aisle glow, Brooks starts his spin; our current health care system is 'the insane spawn of evil geniuses from an alien power,' and not the intended result of a pro-corporate anti-tax agenda that has not only obsessed conservatives since the New Deal, but has been the subtext of Brooks' entire rotten oeuvre.

The spin continues; the healthcare problem can be tackled two ways; 'the liberal way' with government takeover, and the conservative way, where 'cost-conscious consumers make choices in the competitive marketplace.'

Sounds balanced, right? What Brooks leaves out is the 'liberal' way is the way of literally every other Western industrialized nation on the globe. The 'conservative' way is the way that America -- and America alone -- has done it for the last century, and it has been an unmitigated disaster.

Brooks goes on to use one of his classic constructions to round out the 'argument' -- The Imagined Circumstance; 'first this thing will happen, then this will happen, and then this' and of course they never do. His logic isn't about making sense or examining reality; it's about defining an America that doesn't exist.

But at least this time around we were spared Brooks' favorite rhetorical device, The Straw Man Argument. This is where he starts with a supposition like 'the problem with the typical liberal viewpoint is' and then goes on to debunk it point by point -- without, of course, ever actually speaking to a 'liberal' or citing any fact or poll that warrants his invented supposition being labeled 'typical.'

In other words, it is an invented viewpoint he positions as fact, and then shows you how naive and illogical it is so you can think, 'oh, those stupid liberals.'

It's Limbaugh logic for the educated classes.

Isn't it about time the New York Times hire a conservative columnist who deals in facts and reality instead of prognostications designed to appear 'balanced' that are really push-polls disguised as columns?