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It begins...

Note: I haven't had a chance to re-read my screed below, and i also see that i'm going to have to do some quote fart surgery on the blockquotes, but actual work has rudely intruded on my morning so i'm putting this up as-is for now. K, it's as good as it's gonna get. Have at it.

You know, just when you think someone's your friend, they turn around and send you the latest mouthful of stupid from David "McBobo" Brooks. I was going to work on my comic chronology project this morning, but nooooo, now i have to go through this brain numbing editorial.

Let's start with who this bozo is: David Brooks is one of several right wing editorialists that the New York Times has felt the need to hire in order to deflect the right's constant criticism that it is a left wing paper. When your editorialists currently include Thomas Friedman and Maureen Dowd, and they are adding people more right-wing than them to "balance" their editorial staff, you know you're in trouble. To see some of Brook's previous disasters, see here, here, here, and here. The cartoon along the right, by Tom Tomorrow, is a reaction to Brooks' book, which supposedly detailed the author's travels through the heartland of America, so that he could compare 'real americans' to the latte-sipping liberals on the coasts, but it fact it contained no actual research and a lot of pithy stereotypes.

Now let's look at the most recent stupid. (Disclaimer: I am a half-hearted Obama supporter)

At first it seemed like a few random cases of lassitude among Mary Chapin Carpenter devotees in Berkeley, Cambridge and Chapel Hill.

Mary Chapin Carpenter? Berkeley? Already we see that Brooks is still fighting the culture wars of the 60s. Brooks, it is 2008. Folk music has come and gone. The rock and roll hasn't corrupted our children's souls and we've decided that it's OK for black people to vote. Get over it.

But then psychotherapists began to realize patients across the country were complaining of the same distress. They were experiencing the first hints of what's bound to be a national phenomenon: Obama Comedown Syndrome.

The afflicted had already been through the phases of Obama-mania - fainting at rallies, weeping over their touch screens while watching Obama videos, spending hours making folk crafts featuring Michelle Obama's face. These patients had experienced intense surges of hope-amine, the brain chemical that fuels euphoric sensations of historic change and personal salvation.

But they found that as the weeks went on, they needed more and purer hope-injections just to preserve the rush. They wound up craving more hope than even the Hope Pope could provide, and they began experiencing brooding moments of suboptimal hopefulness. Anxious posts began to appear on the Yes We Can! Facebook pages. A sense of ennui began to creep through the nation's Ian McEwan-centered book clubs.

In the real world, just this Tuesday Obama had a blow-out primary win in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is a swing state, which Gore and Kerry barely won in the last two presidential elections. Obama received more votes in the Wisconsin primary than McCain, Huckabee, and Ron Paul combined. He made further increases in all demographics, including those that have traditionally gone for Clinton. Obama beat Clinton by 17%, in a state that a few weeks ago he was expected to lose handily. Polling shows him now neck and neck with Clinton in Texas and Ohio, states that Clinton expected to be no contest (and again, states that don't have large amounts of what was originally considered Obama's core base of support). He's even getting significant support from independents and moderate Republicans. Polls focused on the general election show Obama beating McCain both nationally and in nearly every important swing state.

In other words, Obama's support is currently huge and increasing.

But Brooks is writing about a 'syndrome' that suggests Obama's popularity is waning. Ignoring the fact that he produces no evidence (anxious posts on Facebook?), why would he do this? Well, as of Tuesday's primaries, the right wing is shifting its focus of attack from Clinton to Obama. While conventional wisdom had it that Clinton's nomination was inevitable, it is now becoming increasingly clear that Obama is going to win, so it is time to shift targets. Brooks is happy to oblige. So what Brooks is describing is not what is actually happening, but what he and his cohorts would like to happen, what they will attempt to make happen.

Now let's look how they plan to attack him:

Barack Obama vowed to abide by the public finance campaign-spending rules in the general election if his opponent did. But now he's waffling on his promise. Why does he need to check with his campaign staff members when deciding whether to keep his word?

Obama said he would enter a discussion with the Republican nominee about agreeing to take public funding. The discussion would likely have entailed also promising to disavow fake third party 527 groups that act as loopholes to public financing laws. Once the primaries are over, he will still have that discussion, but it is unlikely that McCain will agree to curtailing 527s since that is a primary way for Repubicans to use their corporate money advantage. Furthermore, McCain's abuse of the public financing system this season is already legendary, so it is very unlikely that Obama could enter an agreement with McCain that he could have faith in.

Obama says he is practicing a new kind of politics, but why has his PAC sloshed $698,000 to the campaigns of the superdelegates, according to the Center for Responsive Politics? Is giving Robert Byrd's campaign $10,000 the kind of change we can believe in?

Aside from being a non-issue (what does this have to do with "a new kind of politics"?), this is a very disingenuous argument. Nearly every elected official is a superdelegate. During a presidential election, a lot of down-ticket elections ride on its coat tails. It is smart tactics to support those elections in order to build your party and ensure that you have support in Congress to enact your policies. Specifically, Robert Byrd would be a very dependable ally. His fiery outspoken speeches in opposition to the Iraq invasion at a time when literally no one else in the Senate was opposing it has already distinguished him from the average politician (there's your new kind of politics).

If he values independent thinking, why is his the most predictable liberal vote in the Senate? A People for the American Way computer program would cast the same votes for cheaper.

In 2004 we were told that John Kerry was the most liberal senator. It was then pointed out that the methodology used to determine that was... flawed. Robert Byrd, Russ Feingold, Chris Dodd, and Ted Kennedy (among others) were all more liberal than Kerry. All of these people are still senators, so how can Obama suddenly now be the most liberal? Obama co-sponsored a bill with Republican Richard Lugar (the goal of which was to track down and ensure that the former Soviet Union's nuclear arms were not falling into the hands of terrorists, something the Bush Administration dropped the ball on). Would the Senate's 'most liberal' senator be expected to co-sponser a bill with a Republican like Lugar? Furthermore, after 8 years of Clinton's centrism and another 8 years of Bush's hard shift to the right, isn't it proof of independent thought to continue to pursue liberal policies when your colleagues are becoming more conservative?

And should we be worried about Obama's mountainous self-confidence?

Brooks has never once complained about Bush's mountainous self-confidence, which has lead him to pursue disastrous policies long after it is clear they are not working.

These doubts lead O.C.S. sufferers down the path to the question that is the Unholy of the Unholies for Obama-maniacs: How exactly would all this unity he talks about come to pass?

How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation's 261,000 lobbyists don't see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party - the trial lawyers, the teachers' unions, the AARP?

This is an interesting shift. If Obama can't bring lobbyists to "see the light", does he have the guts to take on trial lawyers, teachers unions, and the AARP? Does anyone thing the problems of the past 8 years have been the fault of lawyers, teachers, and old people?

The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out.

"Bipartisan unity" meant ensuring that Bush's far right judicial nominations would be seated.

Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions.

The immigration bill was a disaster whether you were pro- or anti-immigration. And god forbid Obama try to represent the interests of the working class.

Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no.

Good. That's the deal that gave telecoms immunity from prosecution for helping the government spy on people.

It's important to realize that whenever a Republican holds office, the message is "Democrats lost the election, the Republicans have a mandate, and they should be able to pursue their agenda unopposed", but when Democrats hold office, the message is "bipartisanship is extremely important." Centrism is not by default a positive thing. If the Republicans pull to the right and the Democrats agree to meet in the middle, and then the Republicans pull to the right again and the Democrats agree to meet in the middle again, what we have is a rightward shift.

And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?

I'm not even sure what he's talking about but it's possible he means when the Democrats voted to hold Bolton and Miers in contempt for refusing to respond to subpoenas, and the Republicans stomped out of the building in protest. THEY'VE BEEN IGNORNING SUBPOENAS, and we're supposed to "heal the breach"? Awww, poor babies, you don't like the rule of law? It's ok, we'll meet in the middle.

The victims of O.C.S. struggle against Obama-myopia, or the inability to see beyond Election Day. But here's the fascinating thing: They still like him. They know that most of his hope-mongering is vaporous. They know that he knows it's vaporous.

The idea that Obama is all talk and no substance was a common complaint of the Clinton campaign. It didn't work very well for her because in truth Obama does have a lot of experience and examples of leadership, and furthermore people have watched politicians with "experience" betray them for these past 8 years.

But the fact that they can share this dream still means something. After the magic fades and reality sets in, they still know something about his soul, and he knows something about theirs. They figure that any new president is going to face gigantic obstacles. At least this candidate seems likely to want to head in the right direction. Obama's hype comes from exaggerating his powers and his virtues, not faking them.

Those afflicted with O.C.S. are no longer as moved by his perorations. The fever passes. But some invisible connection seems to persist.

These last paragraphs are Brooks' backdoor so that when people call him on his bullshit he can claim that it wasn't a pure attack piece. Expect stuff like this to disappear as the general election heats up.

The fact that the New York Times sees fit to print stuff like this should tell you something about the state of our media.

By fnord12 | February 21, 2008, 10:38 AM | Liberal Outrage


1) he complains about obama not being an independent thinker but then also criticizes obama for not going along with the group by voting "No" on FISA?

2) hey, remember Bush the Uniter?

3) there's not enough push back criticism about how tne NYT and CNN and the rest are now the "right wing" media.

4) oh lord. Maureen Dowd. that airhead.

also, does anyone else think tom tomorrow's depiction of brooks looks alot like rumsfeld?