Ennui floods in.
May 8, 2015 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I Don't Think David Brooks is Okay, You Guys Albert Burneko is worried about America's foremost thinkfluencer.
posted by emjaybee (95 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
This was great. My favorite part: Once again we have arrived at a place of incredible darkness and anguish. "I cannot endure this loneliness. Can anyone love me, an incurious congratulator of the past? I can only guess."
posted by (Arsenio) Hall and (Warren) Oates at 7:15 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


. “I am miserable,” he says. “I do not have ‘upbeat moods’ or ‘nice experiences’ and my wiener has cobwebs on it. But maybe I suffer on behalf of posterity? Maybe I have meaningfulness?”

Get outta my diary David Brooks
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:19 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


This is not a recent development, as his Irish setter Moral Hazard has repeatedly documented for posterity.
posted by delfin at 7:22 AM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Is David Brooks's career and personal development worth such a careful dissection? I don't know. But now we have one.
posted by ChuckRamone at 7:28 AM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


This is great -- always more room for DB-bashing -- but seems like way too much time and space wasted on a "thinkfluencer" whom the writer himself parodies as someone that time is leaving behind. And way too many mentions of the dude's nether parts.
posted by blucevalo at 7:29 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


You know, I don't like David Brooks and avoid him but for the end of the week news round up thing they do on NPR.

But I do feel badly on his behalf that the fact of his divorce and his columns were used as evidence that he had sent his ex dick pics. Also making fun of his son going to blah instead of Yale seems like sort of foul play.

On the other hand, he doesn't need my tears, and I'm sort of doubtful that David Brooks can't get somebody to fuck him. I mean, I wouldn't', but tastes differ.
posted by angrycat at 7:29 AM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I don't even know who David Brooks is and this was amazing.

We drift in the emptiness. All is arbitrary. All folly. Our wieners the punchlines of cruel jokes told by dead gods in languages we forsook.

AMAZING.
posted by Sokka shot first at 7:29 AM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


Lots of criticisms one can level at David Brooks, to be sure, but I can't really accept that one of them is "his writing makes transparent the flawed and vulnerable human within". More public writing should do that. (The confident cynicism of Gawker Media writers rarely does, of course, so I can't help but wonder what's going on on the inside there…)
posted by oliverburkeman at 7:31 AM on May 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


I don't get the hate-on that folks here have for Brooks. What I've seen of his work indicates that he's only mildly right of center, and more reasonable than most columnists. The tone of this piece is juvenile, but maybe that's Deadspin's house style?

Brooks:
Happiness is about enjoying the present; meaning is about dedicating oneself to the future. Happiness is about receiving; meaningfulness is about giving. Happiness is about upbeat moods and nice experiences. People leading meaningful lives experience a deeper sense of satisfaction.
Burneko:
"My life has meaning, because I suffer dick webs for the future..."
I didn't bother finishing the article because I got tired of the rhetorical obsession with Brooks' penis.
posted by Johnny Wallflower at 7:31 AM on May 8, 2015 [10 favorites]


I can't help but wonder if this guy's girlfriend left him for an older journalist or something.
posted by vogon_poet at 7:34 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


I feel like the problem David Brooks has is the internet.

Brooks is brilliant at the art of creating safe, disposable "thought", the sort of thing that dominates newspaper op-ed pages. This intellectual flotsam is designed to make the reader feel like they have thought about something that day and then be forgotten. After all, the reader is not looking for actionable information, so a little nugget of capitalist life-reinforcement is just what the doctor ordered before a day at the office.

Except now the internet provides a perfect and permanent record of these documents, so they are no longer disposable; they are a distinct blood trail that leads to nothing. This infuriates people, who now think that they have been duped. And suddenly this sort of inconsequential bloviation is under a harsh and ceaseless spotlight, with the pitiless star chamber of the internet joke brigade staring down at Brooks forever. He has no place to hide.

I'd feel sorry for him, but then, I've read his column.
posted by selfnoise at 7:38 AM on May 8, 2015 [80 favorites]


At some point around the new year, this powdered coffee creamer man abandoned his career-long mission of guessing at what the lives of common Americans are like

As does most other newspaper columnists who were never formally introduced to truth or reality-- just an unreasonable facsimiles of them.

Is David Brooks's career and personal development worth such a careful dissection?

No, and that's what makes this piece pure tragedy for the whole pseudo-intellectual movement. This article is their shark jumping moment. They don't know when to quit or that they are hiding their fear and passivity with heartbreakingly long alleged comical diatribes on stuff -- any stuff will do just so long as they do not have to do.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 7:41 AM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


Lots of criticisms one can level at David Brooks, to be sure, but I can't really accept that one of them is "his writing makes transparent the flawed and vulnerable human within". More public writing should do that.

Like with Secretary of State in his Own Mind World President NonUberuser Thomas Friedman ?
posted by y2karl at 7:42 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


he's a regular punching bag in my feeds.

NYT's ironic fact-check error - "David Brooks's column today is vintage Brooks. In this column I will embed my own nostalgia for the time and place in which I grew up within a framework of someone else's compelling (if simplistic) narrative, and then offer sweeping, general prescriptions for our societial ills."

Try reading his 'hot take' on The Nature Of Poverty - "Saying we should just spend more doesn’t really cut it. What’s needed is a phase shift in how we think about poverty. Renewal efforts in Sandtown-Winchester prioritized bricks and mortar. But the real barriers to mobility are matters of social psychology, the quality of relationships in a home and a neighborhood that either encourage or discourage responsibility, future-oriented thinking, and practical ambition"

which was responded to:
David "Robin Hood" Brooks
David Boorks is Not Buying It, Poor People
A Love Letter From Baltimore - "Christ, David Brooks' recent article was little more than a litany of insults aimed at America's poor. Like every well meaning person of means, he thinks he's doing them a favor by filling some version of the Savior or Prophet roles. But it's really just another example of shitting on the poor while they can't respond, because they don't get to write columns for the New York Times."
Let Sandtown Speak For Itself - " However, my eye was caught by David Brooks’ recent column discussing the need for a change in culture and social values in inner-city communities without any hint of the fact that people here in Sandtown have been doing that work for decades. "
David Brooks and the Federal Government's $14,000 Per Year Per Poor Person - "In the United States it's considered fine to just make crap up when talking about the government, especially when it comes to programs for poor people."

Of course, he's "in his own words, “paid to be a narcissistic blowhard, to volley my opinions, to appear more confident about them than I really am”."

but it's a good thing he's popped up here, since he's got a new book out.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:42 AM on May 8, 2015 [12 favorites]


that accomplishment and position and thinkfluence are no ameliorative for the rejection of your gross old-man wiener by cute millennials

Sounds like that sentence was drawn from personal experience.

Also, I think D. Brooks is ... well, despite his 'success' every time I see his name in print I thank god I'm not him.
posted by From Bklyn at 7:45 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Is it irresponsible to speculate? It would be irresponsible not to.
posted by Gilbert at 7:48 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


for shame, metafilter. how dare you hooligans mock a bad writer for writing badly. I'm going to listen to beethoven's 5th and contemplate a picture of the winged victory in brooks's honor
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 7:53 AM on May 8, 2015 [18 favorites]


Brooks is pretty infuriating, and his recent pseudo-philosophical musings on Meaning and such really really peev me off (but then I have a professional interest in such things), so I welcomed this piece, although it was a bit overlong. Brooks' recent soul-searching constantly struck me as totally bizarre. Isn't there an editorial board there at the Times to suggest maybe he should stop gazing into the abyss so much and go back to making shit up about how great capitalism is? And any editorialist who cheer-led the Iraq War back in '02-03 should definitely have been banished from the chattering classes by now.... but... all that being said... I'd take Brooks over Tom Friedman anyday.

So David Brooks, at least he's not Thomas Friedman. Small comfort I suppose, both for us and him.
posted by dis_integration at 7:54 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


David Brooks has always reminded me of that narcissistic acquaintance who barely manages to listen to the context of a problem without rolling his eyes, and for whom the entire point of a conversation is for him to be heard saying, "Well, if you would JUST..."
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:56 AM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


My favorite thing about Brooks is that he lets Krugman get his inner snark out.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:58 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Everybody wins in this piece.

Brooks and the NYT win because the NYT is reminded why it continues to pay and publish Brooks: page views.

The writer wins because he got paid to write it, and he's pretty effectively demolished the word "thinkfluencer" forever with his readers.

People who agree with this article win because it reinforces their stereotypes about Brooks and people who like him and people like him, also there are plenty of good dick jokes.

People who don't like this article and/or who like David Brooks win because it enforces stereotypes about those shallow, irreverent millennials and their damn dick jokes.
posted by sleeping bear at 8:02 AM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


The E.J. Dionne/David Brooks counterpoint thing on NPR every week usually makes me scream at my car radio regularly. He always sounds so painfully thoughtful while he dispenses total bullshit that's usually only a thinly prettified version of Fox News talking points. Nice Polite Republicans indeed.
posted by octothorpe at 8:06 AM on May 8, 2015 [16 favorites]


Then again, look at this piece of crap article he just wrote: "Mothers and Presidents".

His closing sentence: "We should fight unfair advantages like legacy admissions, but we wouldn’t want to live in a society in which family influence didn’t happen."

What the hell is he talking about?
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:11 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


David Brooks always gives me a good laugh during his regular appearances with Mark Shields on PBS Newshour. Mostly because Judy Woodruff refers to the pair as "Shields and Brooks", which always makes me think of some unlikely amalgam of a country duo, a 1970s mime group, and Brooke Shields.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:15 AM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


I have no use for David Brooks as a pundit or thinker, but this is Burneko guy reminds me of the kid I knew in high school who sent a petition around class forbidding one of my female classmates from wearing shorts.
posted by echocollate at 8:17 AM on May 8, 2015


No, and that's what makes this piece pure tragedy for the whole pseudo-intellectual movement. This article is their shark jumping moment. They don't know when to quit or that they are hiding their fear and passivity with heartbreakingly long alleged comical diatribes on stuff -- any stuff will do just so long as they do not have to do.

What are you supposed to do when it's clear that to get to the pinnacle of a career as a writer on "issues" you have to be an emotionally damaged moron (see: Friedman)?
posted by ennui.bz at 8:20 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Don't like him? Don't read him...the article is snarky negative look how clever I am bullshit
posted by Postroad at 8:21 AM on May 8, 2015 [5 favorites]


What the hell is he talking about?

From that Mothers/Presidents piece:
We should be grateful that there are Bachs in music, Griffeys and Molinas in baseball, Brontes and Amises in novel writing and Kennedys, Roosevelts, Clintons and Bushes in politics. These families make life more unfair for the rest of us (because it’s harder for others to compete against them), but they also make society as a whole more accomplished.
One of these things is not like the other. The whole thing is a work of apologetics for the concentration of power in the hands of a ruling elite. Shit, it's apologetics for neo-feudalism.
posted by dis_integration at 8:23 AM on May 8, 2015 [31 favorites]


I mean, I'm getting outraged here. The argument he makes is basically two steps away from advocating monarchical government with power kept entirely within the family line.
posted by dis_integration at 8:25 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


My take on David Brooks is that he's a blithering idiot and knows very well that he's a blithering idiot. I think that's why the tone of his columns is always sort of superficial and patronizing; he seems uncomfortable in his own skin, as though he's embarrassed by himself (but not embarrassed enough to find a different line of work, I guess).

He's kind of a sad case. The biggest point in his favor is that he's not as odious as the likes of James Taranto or Bill Kristol or Paul Gigot.
posted by holborne at 8:26 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


No, and that's what makes this piece pure tragedy for the whole pseudo-intellectual movement.

Honestly not sure if you're talking about Brooks or the author of this piece.
posted by echocollate at 8:26 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


The whole thing is a work of apologetics for the concentration of power in the hands of a ruling elite. Shit, it's apologetics for neo-feudalism.

It looks like a classic strawman argument. Who said family influence shouldn't happen? How could you even stop it from happening? What people want is a society where family influence does not allow people to unfairly inherit governmental power. It's dishonest to compare the child of an athlete to a politician's child who ends up inheriting political power.
posted by ChuckRamone at 8:30 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


He's kind of a sad case.

oh shit, if you go to his "Road to Character" site under 'First Steps' is says:
Share your Moral Bucket List, tell us where you find purpose in life, and even write your own eulogy.
posted by ennui.bz at 8:32 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


On an only very slightly related note, I sat next to Mark Shields on the metro the other day. He is actually more odd than he seems on tv. That is all.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 8:35 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


The man literally created a form, on his website, for strangers to acknowledge his damn existence. For Redditors, gamergaters, and Deadspin commenters to tell him how to live. This is the measure of our failure to hear what Dave has been trying to tell us.
ah, Dave, while you are not safe I am not safe, and now you’re really in the total animal soup of time—

David Brooks! I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where you're richer than I am
I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where you must feel very tristesse
I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where you imitate the shade of Joe Alsop
I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where you've murdered twelve columns (just this morning!)
I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where you laugh at your own jokes
I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where we are bad writers on the same dreadful iPad
I'm with you in Cleveland Park
where your condition has become serious and is reported on Deadspin
posted by octobersurprise at 8:36 AM on May 8, 2015 [13 favorites]


David Brooks and the NY Times are Exhibits A and B that the quality bar for newspaper journalism was always much, much lower than anyone realized, and Baby Boomers were totally OK with that. And since now the reader has the tools to get varying viewpoints and better quality, we're like, why did we ever think this paper and these editors were any good?

It's like HD television comes along and shows you exactly what famous TV stars look like, and everyone's going, holy crap, Famous Person has really bad skin, WTF, were they always like this?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:41 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


Have you ever noticed

How David Brooks' tongue

Is always kind of sticking out

A little?
posted by The Whelk at 8:53 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


He's peddling a new book, of course, about how awesome it is to "really think" about stuff, which is real fucking rich.
posted by odinsdream at 8:57 AM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


better a professional dick joke maker than a professional serious opinion haver
posted by prize bull octorok at 9:05 AM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


I always assumed David Brooks was out of touch with reality, but maybe he really is in touch... with my soul.
posted by Faint of Butt at 9:07 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Share your Moral Bucket List

Hell, I'm still trying to find my Moral Kiosk
posted by thelonius at 9:13 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


"It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral."

Uh thanks Dave, that is quite brilliant.
posted by Eyebeams at 9:16 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I very much dislike David Brooks. I don't like his writing, and I don't find his arguments persuasive.

But criticism of a writer via a sarcastic appeal to concern for his mental health is execrable. It's execrable because the whole satirical thrust of this approach turns on the bare assumption that people ought to find the vulnerability of mental illness laughably stupid. Instead of being forthright and honest and saying that they believe David Brooks is wrong about a lot of things, and more wrong by the day, in more extravagant ways – a conclusion I probably wouldn't argue with – the author here has woven this edifice of faux concern, hanging within it what is supposed to be the really cutting blow: David Brooks, you see, is personally fucked up. He's ill. His life is in shambles, his marriage is a joke, he must be nearly suicidal! What a rube.

In a free society, there's room for a lot of criticism of public figures before legal lines are crossed. (Claiming outright that you know a writer's marriage is fucked up and that nobody will have sex with him, when you likely don't believe this is true, might actually be legally actionable, but we can leave that aside.) But that doesn't mean all criticism is good, or that it serves society in some way.

Seriously – tell me you hate David Brooks, tell me you dislike his ideas, even tell me he's an idiot. But this psychological projection, this guessing at the demons in his personal life as a sort of veiled criticism? That's obnoxious.
posted by koeselitz at 9:23 AM on May 8, 2015 [23 favorites]


Johnny Wallflower: "What I've seen of his work indicates that he's only mildly right of center, and more reasonable than most columnists"

I think the primary problem with Brooks -- and with some other NYT columnists I can think of -- is that they have an expiration date of about a decade. If you're going to let someone pontificate weekly (or several days a week!) about ideas for much longer than that, they better be the sort of super-brilliant person who has a lot of ideas all the time.

Longer than a decade and virtually all op-ed type columnists are revealed as either vacuous or wildly uninformed or both. That is, a Mike Royko who actually researches and reports on local news stories and comments on them can go on for decades ... but just writing about "big trends" and "ideas" you will eventually be making generalized statements without much supporting them, and people will have been reading you make the same sorts of generalized statements for long enough that the weak points in your arguments become glaring, but you just keep repeating them. In national newspapers. It gets to be infuriating.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:32 AM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


What I've seen of his work indicates that he's only mildly right of center.

Surely, you jest. Brooks has worked at all of the most toxic far-right institutions, including the National Review, the Washington Times, the Hoover Institute and the Weekly Standard.

But this psychological projection, this guessing at the demons in his personal life as a sort of veiled criticism?

Yet that is exactly the sort of projections that Brooks has built his career on. He constantly criticizes the supposed failings of those less fortunate than himself, demanding that they be more responsible at keeping their families together and at the same time insisting that we feel sorry for him because his ex-wife can't stand to be around him anymore.

David Brooks is a truly horrible human being and has done great damage to the country from his influential perch at the New York Times.
posted by JackFlash at 9:45 AM on May 8, 2015 [25 favorites]


but just writing about "big trends" and "ideas" you will eventually be making generalized statements without much supporting them, and people will have been reading you make the same sorts of generalized statements for long enough that the weak points in your arguments become glaring, but you just keep repeating them. In national newspapers. It gets to be infuriating.

This is true enough. Yet, somehow, I manage to be a regular reader of the NYT without ever, once, bothering to click on David Brooks's column. What puzzles me is the claim that one really "hates" somebody's writing which one nonetheless actively seeks out week after week after week. It seems to me that Burneko and most of the commenters in this thread actually can't get enough David Brooks. The NYT would clearly be making a poor business decision--and failing to provide all of you with eagerly anticipated entertainment--if they were to can him.
posted by yoink at 9:47 AM on May 8, 2015


This is hilarious. This send-up couldn't happen to a nicer guy.
posted by etherist at 9:57 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


... but just writing about "big trends" and "ideas" you will eventually be making generalized statements without much supporting them, and people will have been reading you make the same sorts of generalized statements for long enough that the weak points in your arguments become glaring, but you just keep repeating them.

Having finally cancelled our subscription after being driven into multiple frothing, Sunday morning-wrecking rages by "Lifestyles" section trend pieces, I would say this is almost an NYT editorial policy.
posted by ryanshepard at 9:57 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Ooh, now do Ross Douthat!
posted by officer_fred at 10:18 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


If people want to play the "if you don't like Brooks don't read him" card, OK, but I thought I was a brilliant and very necessary take-down of a pernicious blowhard. Thank you for posting!
posted by Eyebeams at 10:21 AM on May 8, 2015 [15 favorites]



Ooh, now do Ross Douthat!

Simple. Ross Douche-hat!
posted by ennui.bz at 10:23 AM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


Don't like him? Don't read him...

I don't, but unfortunately he's on the radio. Same as with w before early 2009, I've acquired the habit of changing the station whenever that voice comes on but it's a drag tuning back after an interval and missed the beginning of the next segment.

Nice Polite Republicans indeed.
Brilliant!

posted by Rash at 10:24 AM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Simple. Ross Douche-hat!

/ˈdaʊθæt/
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 10:40 AM on May 8, 2015


I don't even know who David Brooks is and this was amazing.

Me either, I googled and saw on the Wiki he was a born-in-Canada conservative pundit and then I was reminded for a minute that David Frum also exists and clicked the window closed.

I mean I feel some shame that we keep producing these guys but also relief that we are sending them away at least.
posted by Hoopo at 10:41 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


+1 on the David Brooks hate train. The fact that such an ignorant buffoon has a regular column in the paper of record speaks volumes about the level of discourse our country's elite expect of us.
posted by nikoniko at 10:52 AM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


The NYT would clearly be making a poor business decision--and failing to provide all of you with eagerly anticipated entertainment--if they were to can him.

Yeah, I have to second this. The piece is funny enough, and god knows I find Brooks galling too, but this doesn't address the real issue: that the gall is a big part of the brand. Like most of the true unfireable-because-always-wrong op-ed masters, he cultivates hate-readers as well as sincere readers, and the puzzle-like tacit prompt "how many flaws can you spot in this argument?" is as much the reason why people read him as it is that they're even trying to be persuaded. Psychologizing his bullshit doesn't really address the problem that the psychology is exactly what perfectly adapts him to his niche.
posted by RogerB at 11:03 AM on May 8, 2015


10/10, would schadenfreude again.
posted by EatTheWeak at 11:04 AM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


What puzzles me is the claim that one really "hates" somebody's writing which one nonetheless actively seeks out week after week after week.

In truth, whatever ill-regard I have for David Brooks pales before my loathing for mayonnaise. However, I give them both my equal assiduities, which is to say, none at all.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:15 AM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


As a long-time Burneko reader, I find this entire discussion, and how much people are reading in to the original piece, hilarious. Burneko's most significant work is a semi-trollish food column in which he quests for the perfect Reuben and yells at people for eating boneless skinless chicken breast in a world where chicken thighs exist. "Cobweb-dusted wiener" is pretty much par for the Burneko course.

Treating this like a Serious Column by a Serious Columnest is... missing the point a bit.
posted by Itaxpica at 11:21 AM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


For a man who writes almost exclusively about how self-obsessed people are these days, David Brooks seems remarkably free of self-interrogation. It's not hard to read his every sentence as either deflection or projection. About, I dunno a decade ago, this contradiction used to make me burn with indignation. How could THIS PARTICULAR WHITE DUDE get so much attention for basically saying “none of this is my fault” over and over and OVER.

But Ye Gods I just can't get worked up about it any more. Harshing on the man is shooting fish in a barrel. Let him have his delusions already.
posted by axoplasm at 11:44 AM on May 8, 2015




I have no idea why anyone takes newspaper columnists - and this includes Paul Krugman as well as David Brooks - seriously.

They are printed for pure entertainment value, and that's it. It's fun to agree or disagree with them, but people like Brooks have absolutely no influence on anything at all, except for one's blood pressure.

TLDR: newspaper columnists of any stripe are insufferable blowhards. Unlike me, however, they get paid for their opinions.
posted by Nevin at 12:17 PM on May 8, 2015


But criticism of a writer via a sarcastic appeal to concern for his mental health is execrable. It's execrable because the whole satirical thrust of this approach turns on the bare assumption that people ought to find the vulnerability of mental illness laughably stupid. ... David Brooks, you see, is personally fucked up. He's ill. His life is in shambles, his marriage is a joke, he must be nearly suicidal! What a rube.

Yeah, it crossed a line for me, too. I don't like Brooks' writing or politics, but this was a particularly nasty and personal hit piece. And I strongly suspect that if it had attacked someone like say, Matthew Yglesias, people would be less happy about how personal it was.
posted by zarq at 12:18 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I bet his tongue won't stick out on his next appearance, and he needs to vacation in Brazil, that's what the dispossed do, who can afford it. Nothing like the view of two hundred thousand unconcerned asses soaking up sun all at once, to clear the cobwebs, so to speak.

Foodie? Chows down on Brook's perceived funk? If only he hadn't told the planet about that personal picture, it's kind of like begging for the pillory.
posted by Oyéah at 12:26 PM on May 8, 2015


I like to think that after a day of being told how brilliant he is, David goes home and tucks into a big jar of Elmer's paste
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 12:37 PM on May 8, 2015 [6 favorites]


David Brooks is telling us something dark and sad ...

So does the current Republican majority in Congress. Too damn bad. de Soto wandered in the wilderness for 3 years looking for gold and caught a fever and died. So it goes.

It's the end of his world and I feel fine.
posted by Twang at 1:09 PM on May 8, 2015


I just skimmed it, but I get the impression this Burneko geezer might be lots of fun. A waxed talpid!
posted by Don Pepino at 1:34 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


David brooks is king the of "both sides do it" and "we need a radical center" bullshit. He was one of the people that pushed the idea that somehow the democrats were equally at fault for the obstruction of congress during Obama's tenure. "If only we could both compromise!" If two people were trying to decide where to go out to eat and person A said "chinese" and person B said "I want to stab you in the throat" David Brooks would write a 1000 word column suggesting that person B should just punch person A in the stomach as a reasonable compromise.

He does all this with a veneer of intellectual bullshit that allows him to be treated as a "SERIOUS PERSON" instead of the shitbird crank that he actually is.

I feel zero sympathy for him in any capacity.
posted by Ferreous at 1:37 PM on May 8, 2015 [22 favorites]


I strongly suspect that if it had attacked someone like say, Matthew Yglesias, people would be less happy about how personal it was.

Oh no, not Matt "Factory Collapse" Yglesias!
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:49 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I've never understood how anyone could possibly think it acceptable to mock that someone is mentally ill, depressed and/or suicidal. Disliking them doesn't somehow make that okay as far as I'm concerned.
posted by zarq at 1:53 PM on May 8, 2015 [2 favorites]


I have no idea why anyone takes newspaper columnists - and this includes Paul Krugman as well as David Brooks - seriously

winning a Nobel Prize will have that effect sometimes I guess
posted by Hoopo at 2:09 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


I strongly suspect that if it had attacked someone like say, Matthew Yglesias, people would be less happy about how personal it was.

Not me. Pundits as a class can go screw.

Yes even fuckin' Dan Carlin.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 2:36 PM on May 8, 2015


I've never understood how anyone could possibly think it acceptable to mock that someone is mentally ill, depressed and/or suicidal. Disliking them doesn't somehow make that okay as far as I'm concerned.

I think the piece I want this piece to be is much better than the piece it actually is, which is a little too long and seems to sincerely believe its conceit: that any glimmer of human feeling can be perceived through the swamp water of cliché and conventional thought that is the work of David Brooks.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:27 PM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]


glimmer of human feeling ... the swamp water of cliché

these are admittedly terrible clichés and it made my teeth grind that I couldn't think of better. forgive me, I am not Joyce
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:31 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Paul Krugman

But I love him. Like seriously, part of my heart is forever taken by him.
posted by angrycat at 4:06 PM on May 8, 2015


Is it worse to spend one's existence far from positions of influence, living life to the fullest but never contributing in a memorable way to society (like pretty much all of us) - or is it worse to occupy a position of true influence, whispering in the ear of the powerful, but only tolerated by the plutocrats and presidents because you tell innocuous, meaningless stories and reiterate the "common sense" lessons they already believe? Only David Brooks knows for sure, but he'll probably tell us all about it.
posted by Kevin Street at 4:17 PM on May 8, 2015 [4 favorites]



David Brooks! I'm with you in Cleveland Park


This is best comments
posted by Potomac Avenue at 4:58 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


Enjoyed the piece, laughed, admired it, but didn't get that delectable hit of schadenfreude I was hoping for. In fact, strangely, with every line I noticed the same rage building as when I (try to) read an actual David Brooks column.
posted by Zerowensboring at 5:22 PM on May 8, 2015


" Goofy is best known for his series of How-To cartoons, where he comically bumbles through a set of often ill-guided instructions on how to do a various task."
posted by clavdivs at 5:30 PM on May 8, 2015 [1 favorite]


Via the comments over at Lawyers, Guns & Money: "David Brooks: The Great Project Continues."
Over the years, as I have laid out the case ad nauseum that David Brooks is engaged in a vast conspiracy to radically redact the entire history of Modern Conservatism, my language has been sharp and pungent from time to time, but I wasn't being hyperbolic or metaphorical in my meaning. This is quite clearly what he is attempting to do.

When I said that part of this Great Project involved sheathing it in the language of faith in order to create a critic-proof bunker where Mr. Brooks could hide his crimes and frauds behind a solid wall of double-talk about humility and faith, I wasn't kidding. And when I pointed out many, many times that he is getting away with it in broad daylight, I wasn't kidding about that either.

... And this right here -- Mr. Brooks' assertion that our "[p]ublic debate is now undermoralized and overpoliticized" -- is a pillar of Mr. Brooks' new cult, standing at the intersection of his Great Project (to erase the vile history of Modern Conservatism and his very active role in it) and the Church of Lyin'tology which he is building atop the mountain of bullshit he has already created.

posted by MonkeyToes at 6:35 PM on May 8, 2015 [11 favorites]


(Claiming outright that you know a writer's marriage is fucked up and that nobody will have sex with him, when you likely don't believe this is true, might actually be legally actionable, but we can leave that aside.)

I believe the gloss on this is that Brooks has pompously declaimed on marriage to lower castes forever so he deserves all he gets in this regard. But, yeah, hating on Brooks is such a tired genre at this point, if, paradoxically, apparently his continuing raison d'être. As far as I can tell, he is mainly read by writers and readers of things like this thing... sort of a combination alan colmes/washington generals figure for left-identifying e-friends to autoerotically hate on.
posted by batfish at 6:45 PM on May 8, 2015


This is best comments

You are a connoisseur of comments, sir.
posted by octobersurprise at 6:49 PM on May 8, 2015


koeselitz: " (Claiming outright that you know a writer's marriage is fucked up and that nobody will have sex with him, when you likely don't believe this is true, might actually be legally actionable, but we can leave that aside.) "

This is extremely current and widespread gossip that has gotten a lot of play in the mainstream media. He spends a great deal of time talking about how poor people need to get married better and stay married longer in order to create a "culture" that will let them escape poverty, without addressing the pretty well-researched institutional reasons that marriage has become difficult in lower-class American communities, but doesn't address his own marital difficulties, which may now be resolved, but which also may involve an affair with a much-younger assistant. He also encourages people to be morally judgmental towards those who fall short of the traditional moral standards he upholds.

I actually enjoyed "Bobos in Paradise" and I think Brooks is an incisive commentator on the culture and thinking of (wealthy) Baby Boomers, whose primary problems are that he's been a public commentator for too long (thus running low on new things to say) and that most cultural commentators eventually run into the problem that they understand one cultural moment really well (in his case, wealthy Boomers and their ascendency) but have trouble understanding the next one (Xers, Millennials) and so their commentary becomes disjointed and dumb. As for his foray into Virtue Ethics, I roll my eyes a bit because it's kinda first-year theology major stuff from someone who's read one MacIntyre book, but he's writing a 750-word column in a national newspaper, there's not a ton of space for depth, I can overlook it. But he is extremely judgmental about marriage and family organization in impoverished communities -- especially minority communities -- and he exhibits no understanding of the cultural forces that shape those marital and family choices; his constant refrain is that poor women (rarely men, mostly women) need to make better choices about who they have sex with, and that poverty can be solved if people make better decisions about sex and marriage. This is not wrong -- more stable, middle-class-looking families do create more favorable wealth outcomes for poor families, but the cultural forces arrayed against the formation of stable families in poor communities are intense, and he refuses to acknowledge them, instead choosing to focus on personal ethics, personal virtues, and personal choices. If Brooks were remotely educated on the social science, he'd be pointing out how the criminalization of being young and black in Baltimore leads to prison and removes men from the marriage market and the job market, which massively destabilizes families through institutional racism. But nope: He acknowledge that Freddie Grey received a lead paint settlement, but then points out: "the real barriers to mobility are matters of social psychology, the quality of relationships in a home and a neighborhood that either encourage or discourage responsibility, future-oriented thinking, and practical ambition." If Freddie Grey had just been more ambitions, the cops wouldn't have abused him! Brooks repeatedly encourages us to judge our neighbors, as we did before we became politically correct and post-modern and declared all choices equal, and to be clear when they're making immoral choices that are bad for their families and children, to hold them accountable to middle-class moral standards of behavior in order to improve their communities.

So when commentators turn that standard on Brooks and engage in clear, public judgment that his choice to destabilize his family (possibly for an affair with a much-younger woman) is a personal moral failure on his part, they're not just being jerks about a conservative commentator with skeletons in his closet; they're explicitly applying the framework he wants applied. (And, to his credit, I think that's why he hasn't really fought back against that characterization -- he knows it's true.)

(I, personally, have taken enough ethics classes to know that most prominent ethicists get interested in the topic because of really serious personal moral failings, so I am neither surprised nor concerned about the state of his own personal marriage; I just wish he would acknowledge structural issues rather than focusing solely on personal ones. But I don't think it's unfair for people to apply his own framework to him ... I just think you'll get what you always get when you do that to an ethicist, which is a vast discrepancy between preaching and practice.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 7:45 PM on May 8, 2015 [15 favorites]


I am so floored by Mefi commenters thinking:

a. The version of Brooks presented in the piece is anything but a comic exaggeration based not on actual facts known to the writer (does Brooks have mental health issues? Was his divorce unusually traumatic? I have no idea, and I don't think the writer does either) but on wild assumptions for comic effect.

b. that Brooks himself, who appears to be in no danger of losing his position as NYT columnist, NPR bloviator, and guy who gets his books published without much in the way of effort, is likely to suffer from this piece in any way.

I find this idea that this is some kind of attack on mentally ill people the most mystifying part. Unless you consider overweening self-regard a mental illness?
posted by emjaybee at 9:51 PM on May 8, 2015 [8 favorites]


Eyebrows McGee: "I don't think it's unfair for people to apply his own framework to him..."

You don't? Because it seemed like you just said the opposite. David Brooks' own framework is fundamentally unfair. Applying it to anyone - even him - is therefore unfair. Not only that, but applying it to him is an idiotic tactic for those of us who disagree with him, because it backfires instantly. You see how you just spent several paragraphs explaining that? That is how much this needs to be explained to get the point across correctly. I've read enough David Brooks to know that he does this, and to know how he works - to know his weird insulated cultural criticism is deeply flawed and hypocritical. But most people haven't. So what this stuff reads as to most people is an endorsement of David Brooks' tactics. Which - let's be fair - is what it is: you don't use the enemy's weapons unless you trust them and hold them to be fair.

This piece is therefore a tacit but forceful endorsement of David Brooks. It says: hey, I may not like to admit it, but his approach sure works, doesn't it?

Like I said, we should just say honestly and clearly that he's an idiot. We've constructed the clear arguments that demonstrate that Brooks is wrong; if you must blockage about him, then use those arguments, instead of pointing out fruitlessly that he's a hypocrite, which says nothing about his thesis. Pieces like this make it clear that the writer is more like David Brooks than they'd like to admit to themselves. So there's not much point to them. It's just ugliness.
posted by koeselitz at 10:24 PM on May 8, 2015 [3 favorites]


David Brooks, he's an idiot.

Can't be said enough.

(The pickle is that he's an idiot that a lot of people listen to, and who will not soon understand that he is an idiot, as his particularly nefarious brand of idiocy is persuasive in similar ways that calls to engage in racist behavior can, to the right audience, be persuasive. I mean, he's giving them what they want. Craven hack that he is.)
posted by From Bklyn at 3:09 AM on May 9, 2015


Brooks repeatedly encourages us to judge our neighbors, as we did before we became politically correct and post-modern and declared all choices equal, and to be clear when they're making immoral choices that are bad for their families and children, to hold them accountable to middle-class moral standards of behavior in order to improve their communities.

Eyebrows, I agree, and it reminded me so much of your comment about Indiana's needle exchange program -- "But you'll also be shocked by how many people actually have zero practical goal in mind when creating/supporting laws or programs; they are literally just interested in legislating morality and handing out the rewards and punishments that God hasn't got around to dealing with yet."

And both comments reinforce what Driftglass is proposing, which is that Brooks's project is to erase all kinds of nasty historical context (as well as wider social, political, etc. contexts/research/statistics.evidence) in favor of a model of personal judgment as a shaper and driver of legislation that punishes "poor morals."
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:16 AM on May 9, 2015 [2 favorites]


This piece is therefore a tacit but forceful endorsement of David Brooks.

I'm not at all convinced that this theoretical inversion is intended by the piece's author. But just to say that proof by contradiction doesn't sully itself by applying the hypothesis being disproven, and I think neither would the application of a moral framework for satirical purpose be necessarily an endorsement of it.
posted by ~ at 9:29 AM on May 9, 2015 [5 favorites]


> Is always kind of sticking out

Maybe he
Forgets his tongue.
My cat
Does that a lot.
posted by jfuller at 9:58 AM on May 9, 2015 [1 favorite]


Here's a Stylish (firefox or chrome) stylesheet to reduce (but unfortunately, not completely remove) David Brooks from the NYTimes:
@namespace url(http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml);

@-moz-document domain("nytimes.com") {
  img[src*=brooks-circular], /* hide his fucking face */
  a[href*=davidBrooks], /* hide his fucking menu link */
  a[href*=david-brooks], /* hide his normal fucking links */
  a[href*=david-brooks] ~ * /* fuck everything in the area of david brooks */
  {
    display: none !important;
  }
}
posted by beerbajay at 4:21 AM on May 10, 2015 [3 favorites]


Slacktivist:
Brooks expects poor people to learn moral lessons from people like him. It has never occurred to him that people like him might need to learn moral lessons from the poor and the disenfranchised.

... David Brooks doesn’t realize [that conversation about morality is still happening] because he stopped listening. He stopped listening, coincidentally, at just the point when people who look like him stopped dominating and monopolizing that conversation.
posted by MonkeyToes at 8:57 AM on May 10, 2015 [6 favorites]


David Brooks' sestina about poverty.

I think we will all agree that bad relationships
cause poverty.
Also, not acting like someone in the Jane Jacobs book, and not having a “code.”
It is certainly not caused by rich people
owning almost every single thing
including money that others might potentially need. ...

posted by EatTheWeak at 9:52 AM on May 10, 2015 [2 favorites]


Unless you consider overweening self-regard a mental illness?

Thank God, that is certainly not a problem around here.
posted by y2karl at 4:23 PM on May 19, 2015


MetaFilter, I think you will enjoy Rebecca Mead's New Yorker review of David Brooks's new book: David Brooks's Search For Meaning
posted by Going To Maine at 6:35 PM on May 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


David Brooks, Learning From Mistakes
The first obvious lesson is that we should look at intelligence products with a more skeptical eye. There’s a fable going around now that the intelligence about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction was all cooked by political pressure, that there was a big political conspiracy to lie us into war.

That doesn’t gibe with the facts.


David Brooks Tries To Rewrite The History Of The Iraq War
The Senate Intelligence Committee also did a follow-up report, which you can read about in The New York Times. The report itself, signed by Republicans and Democrats, concluded that “the Administration repeatedly presented intelligence as fact when in reality it was unsubstantiated, contradicted, or even non-existent.”

That conclusion is supported by other evidence. Paul Pillar, the CIA official who oversaw Middle East intelligence, wrote that “intelligence was misused publicly to justify decisions already made.” Meanwhile, at the Pentagon, the administration set up an operation to “reinterpret information” provided to them by intelligence. That group, led by Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith, promoted “false links between Iraq and al Qaeda.”

posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:09 AM on June 4, 2015


« Older The best of 'The Eyes Have It'   |   Whole Foods Got Millennials All Wrong Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments