The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
“The Second Coming,” William Butler Yeats
Like Donald Trump and his Stepford Wives sons, David Brooks embodies much of what is wrong with the good ol’ U.S. of A. and the hollow failure that is the mainstream media, notably the floundering Wizard of Oz known as the New York Times.
In short, and while I originally read this about Newt Gingrich, Brooks is what ignorant, ill-informed, and/or simply stupid people believe smart people are.
Brooks matches what the white male ruling elites have sold the American public counts as authority: suit and tie, glasses, haircut with the proper part on the side (although even his hair knows to abandon the ship of his thick and possibly hollow skull).
However, and most importantly, Brooks is a white man who holds forth on everything with a genial authority, and he has acquired a bully pulpit mostly because he is a white man who holds forth on everything with a genial authority.
The schtick here is that Brooks is doing his All-American service by making really hard ideas accessible to the much less sophisticated American public.
It is what stand-up comics have done for decades, but Brooks, especially, and the NYT take him and all that explaining very seriously.
Having taught high school and first-year college writing for many years, I can assure you that Brooks is a case of arrested development found in many more-or-less privileged white men who decide very early that they know everything.
In fact, the Brooks approach to writing would suffer mightily in a first-year writing seminar, and especially in an upper level college course requiring a student to know the material and then to work through ideas carefully.
Some of these know-everythings become pompous and rapacious—think Trump—and others become genial and perpetual explainers to the masses—think David Brooks, All-American.
The problem is that they are both horrible, both eroding the great possibilities of a free people somewhat half-heartedly pursuing life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.
Here is a simple guide for the work of Brooks: do not read it. Ever.
A more nuanced approach is to mine his commentaries for the most simplistic and unwarranted claims about human nature, the human condition, gender roles, and most damning of all, anything he wades into about race or culture.
Again, like Trump, Brooks lumbers through this life almost entirely fueled by privilege that he believes is credibility he has earned. You can tell by the glasses and the smug look in all the pictures of him on google images.
There is a powerful but careless narrative among the “Make America Great Again” crowd that white men made this country, made this country great.
But the truth is that white men like Trump and Brooks are the worst sort of dinosaurs, surviving on their disproportionate influence and crushing everything in their paths to self-aggrandizement.
In the most perverse ways possible, the U.S. deserves both Trump and Brooks because they represent who this country is at the core.
Our only hope is that the margins can overcome that core, find a way to create a more perfect union.
David Brooks, All-American: A Reader
Reconsidering Education “Miracles,” P.L. Thomas
David Brooks Also Eats Cereal, John Warner