February 29, 2012

NYT’s David Brooks Goes Godwin in ‘First They Came’ Rant

In Tuesday’s New York Times print edition, supposed in-house conservative David Brooks ended his column bemoaning how the Republican base (nicknamed “wingers,” who are “Republicans on the extreme”) is ruining the “mainstream” Grand Old Party by violating a Godwin’s Law corollary, namely (rephrased for columnists) that whoever inappropriately alludes to the Nazi era in German automatically fails to make his point effectively.

Brooks final bark: “First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.” Yep, he’s trying to claim he’s to the right of George W. Bush, but that he’s not sufficiently pure enough for today’s “wingers.” Sure, David.

In the run-up to his wrap-up outrage, Brooks lamented how really great guys like Orrin Hatch and Dick Lugar have to be dishonest to get reelected:

Politicians do what they must to get re-elected. So it’s not unexpected that Republican senators like Richard Lugar and Orrin Hatch would swing sharply to the right to fend off primary challengers.

… Still, it is worth pointing out that this behavior is not entirely honorable. It’s not honorable to adjust your true nature in order to win re-election. It’s not honorable to kowtow to the extremes so you can preserve your political career.

But, of course, this is exactly what has been happening in the Republican Party for the past half century. Over these decades, one pattern has been constant: Wingers fight to take over the party, mainstream Republicans bob and weave to keep their seats.

Gosh, if only these “wingers” would stop fighting for “extreme” things like constitutional adherence and balanced budgets. That’s crazy talk. $5 trillion in deficits in 4 years and executive “we can’t wait for Congress” rule? These would appear to be petty annoyances.

For this to work, Brooks needs to rewrite history, so he can misapply it to today:

In the 1960s and ’70s, the fight was between conservatives and moderates. Conservatives trounced the moderates and have driven them from the party. These days the fight is between the protesters and the professionals. The grass-roots protesters in the Tea Party and elsewhere have certain policy ideas, but they are not that different from the Republicans in the “establishment.”

…All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid.

… professional Republicans … (are) Opossum Republicans. They tremble for a few seconds then slip into an involuntary coma every time they’re challenged aggressively from the right.

After all those “moderates” were driven from the party, Ronald Reagan won two landslides, despite only appealing to “rigid” conservatives. Sure, David. And if you think the “establishment” and the grass-roots are almost on the same page, and that the establishment isn’t actively going after the Tea Party challenge, you’re the one living in an “insular” bubble. You certainly know nothing of what is happening in Ohio.

Erick Ericksen’s reaction at RedState to Brooks’s “First They Came” riff provides useful historical perspective:

I know many people who use paraphrases of Miemoller’s line as jokes to highlight the absurdity of various absurd situations, but I don’t get the sense David Brooks is joking. I assume he is finally comfortable sharing ink with the intellectual heavyweights at the New York Times who, through Walter Duranty, gave cover to Stalin’s purges and apologized to the world for Reagan beating evil.

I would also point out that the Rockefeller Republicans were losers and compassionate conservatism put us on the brink of financial ruin. As for being a “mainstream conservative,” David Brooks writes at Walter Duranty’s paper in New York City.

The pretense that David Brooks is meaningfully conservative in any way that matters truly offends. The purpose of his presence is to tell Times readers that anyone to the right of him is an extremist who shouldn’t be allowed in polite company. What a tool.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.


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