...as in the Dreyfus Affair, stay with me people!
May 22, 2004 6:07 AM   Subscribe

Kinsley goes Zola on Brooks "In his writing and on television, he actually seems reasonable. More than that, he seems cuddly. He gives the impression of being open to persuasion. Like the elderly Jewish lady who thinks someone must be Jewish because ''he's so nice,'' liberals suspect that a writer as amiable as Brooks must be a liberal at heart. Some conservatives think so too." via A&L Daily
posted by leotrotsky (6 comments total)
I don't like Brooks at all, and it is his unsupported generalizations about everything that annoy me. I haven't read his book, nor will I, but wish he would read Bob Herbert (his neighbor in the subdivision that is the NYT editorial page) to learn how to make cogent points about people and their lives, and the bigger picture.

Busy, Busy, Busy does a great job at shortening his columns down to their ridiculous essences.
posted by amberglow at 6:48 AM on May 22, 2004

Brooks' forte is presenting normal, fairly unnoticed yet extremely apparent behavior (if you're looking for it) as sociological theories. His Atlantic articles are very astute and clever, but only as a means to scratch the surface of certain subjects.

The problem occurs when people take his perspective as academic fact, as opposed to simply observed behavior. He has no deep historical perspective, nor does he attempt to create theories of value. He's simply a step up from Limbaugh or Franken...more intelligent and reasonable, but certainly not worthy of his "academic" status. He and Russert make politics seem so easy, when really the study of political, and human, behavior is far more complex.
posted by BlueTrain at 9:20 AM on May 22, 2004

So, who thinks David "Soapy Sam Wilberforce" Brooks is nice ?

Nice like Abu Ghraib prison with a smile.

Nice like : whilst he's bedazzling and hypnotizing you with his gleaming white teeth and unctuous rhetoric, he's soaping up and violating all of your orifices - intellectual and otherwise (But so nicely).
posted by troutfishing at 9:28 AM on May 22, 2004

What a terrific review. One of his points is that Brooks is such an agreeable writer that liberals seem to overlook the flaws in his reasoning. That's approximately how I feel about Kinsley. He's so damned entertaining.

On the other hand, I've never much above half enjoyed or agreed with Brooks.
posted by coelecanth at 10:34 AM on May 22, 2004

That was a thoroughly enjoyable article! I don't like David Brooks either -- after "The Organization Kid," it seemed clear that he was an entertaining writer who didn't care what conclusion he came to in the end. Boy did that article suck.
posted by josh at 1:33 PM on May 22, 2004

The problem with Brooks, and the problem with most other "novelty" columnists like him, such as Maureen Dowd, is that they have no particularly professional expertise outside of being columnists, but they have assumed the mantle of "expert." Brooks is the sociologist. Dowd is the psychoanalyst. Odds are that the "senior policy analyst" from the "conservative think tank" was just a guy in college who wrote a bunch of entertaining and inflamatory columns in his college newspaper. These people are marketing themselves as people who can provide expert insights when, in fact, all they have been trained to do is make an entertaining turn of phrase. However, due to their facility with language, we can be fooled into believing that they actually are uniquely qualified to offer their analysis of the situation, when they actually cannot.

Brooks' work is best approached as science fiction-- speculative analysis and works driven by "what if this is the way the world worked?" rather than to be mistaken for actual research.
posted by deanc at 10:13 PM on May 22, 2004

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