Sunday, November 7, 2004
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David Brooks 1, Maureen Dowd 0
Go read Brooks NYT column from Saturday.
Then read Dowd's column from today.
Which one is the member of the "reality-based community"?posted by Dan on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM
Dowd is a sharp-tongued gossip columnist. She never was on the same plane with serious commentators like Brooks, Krugman, Friedman, etc. To compare Brooks and Dowd is apples and oranges. Or perhaps, apples and sour grapes.posted by: Alex on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Feel like a smallish wager on who'll seem more prescient in four years, Dan? It always sounds more mature and rational to assume that Bush is mature and rational, but that's how we got the disastrous Iraq policy, the disastrous foreign policy, the ludicrous (but I hope not disastrous) tax policy, etc., that we are now saddled with.
Everyone on the right likes to quote the "Pay the Dane the geld…" bit when discussing "appeasing terrorists." I think it's simplistic, but assuming its basic truth, why would it be any less true when discussing appeasement of the hard core base (MoDo's subject) of Bush's coalition?
The logic of the line doesn't depend on the evilness of the Dane, does it? It depends on incentives mattering. And the non-religious base of the Republican coalition will keep making the same deal with the religious base as long as the Republicans can convince the moderates that (a) the terrorists are a significant threat, and (b) the Republicans will keep them safe. Neither (a) nor (b) is strictly provable, or even presently well-supported in fact. The Republicans have set up the WOT as something that will go on and on and on (I mean, exactly who do we kill to get rid of the IDEA of asymmetric warfare?). So the deal of moderate votes for safety and hard-core votes for impingement on civil liberties can at least potentially go on for the rest of my lifetime and yours. (The Cold War lasted , what 40-50 years? Didn't the 90's seem freer to you than the 80s?)
MoDo's right, and Brooks is a sappy apologist who will be embarrassed by his position (as he appeared to be prior to the election) in the near future.
Dowd is like your typical liberal: always ready with facile, reductionist psychological or sociological explanations instead of taking seriously the ideas of people who disagree with her. I hope she and her fellow liberals will continue this practice for long to come.posted by: W on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Both write pap.
What's next, professional wrestling analysis?posted by: Waffle on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Wish I could take credit for this, but I found it on Sullivan's blog. (Muse of intellecual property, forgive me my double theft). I agree with the writer that Brooks's instant revision is almost as shallow as the conventional wisdom it seems poised to displace.
EMAIL OF THE DAY: "Have to disagree with David Brooks and evidently you. To point out that the evangelicals voted in the same proportion for Bush as they did in 2000 gets a fact right and misses the point. What matters is that the Bush vote by these folks did not erode in the face of catastrophic management of post-invasion Iraq, prisoner atrocities, transformation of the surplus into a suffocating deficit and terrible job performance. It seems to me that their religious views trump everything. You switched your vote - why didn't they? The answer is complex, but you can bet it includes homophobia deftly catalyzed by Mr. Rove et. al." He's got a point, no?
Give the devil his due: Rove had a stategy from the get-go, and it worked.posted by: JonR on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Duh. Dowd, of course. Brooks is a lamo spinmeister.
Check out this now famous comment of mine:
"Have to disagree with David Brooks and evidently you. To point out that the evangelicals voted in the same proportion for Bush as they did in 2000 gets a fact right and misses the point. What matters is that the Bush vote by these folks did not erode in the face of catastrophic management of post-invasion Iraq, prisoner atrocities, transformation of the surplus into a suffocating deficit and terrible job performance. It seems to me that their religious views trump everything. You switched your vote - why didn't they? The answer is complex, but you can bet it includes homophobia deftly catalyzed by Mr. Rove et. al."posted by: I'm Right. on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
JonR and the person he quotes assume that the evangelicals did not change their vote because of their views of gays. That assumption is completely unwarranted. Perhaps the evangelicals did not share his view of the war. Perhaps the evangelicals believed that character matters, making W at the end of the day a better war leader than Kerry. And so on. Again, when will liberals start to take their opponents seriously? Ranting about some strawman is not going to get you anywhere.posted by: W on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
I think Mark Steyn at the Telegraph said it beautifully when commenting on the eurodhimmi reaction to the Bush victory:
Who exactly is being self-righteous here? In Britain and Europe, there seem to be two principal strains of Bush-loathing. First, the guys who say, if you disagree with me, you must be an idiot - as in the Mirror headline "How can 59,054,087 people be so DUMB?" Second, the guys who say, if you disagree with me, you must be a Nazi - as in Oliver James, who told The Guardian: "I was too depressed to even speak this morning. I thought of my late mother, who read Mein Kampf when it came out in the 1930s [sic] and thought, 'Why doesn't anyone see where this is leading?'"
Dowd's column was fine except for this: "The new evangelicals challenge science because they've been stirred up to object to social engineering on behalf of society's most vulnerable: the poor, the sick, the sexually different." Unless I am unclear on what she meant to say, it's a bit nutty.
Brooks has his own problems. As Laura Rozen pointed out, he's the guy who likes to comment on the lifestyles of others without actually experiencing them.posted by: Brian on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Just when did Krugman start writing serious columns again? It has been a steep downhill since his fit at coming in second to Dean Tyson.
But then economists may be especially talented at slippery slopes.posted by: Mike W on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
When you take a look at the actual polls -- such as CNN's exit polls, recalibrated to compensate for their initial 4-point Kerry bias ( http://www.cnn.com/ELECTION/2004/pages/results/states/US/P/00/epolls.0.html ) -- and Gallup's final pre-election poll ( http://www.gallup.com/poll/content/?ci=13957 ) -- some things jump out. While white evangelicals did march in bizarre lockstep -- almost 80% of them voted for Bush, and without them Kerry would have won by 13 points nationally -- the places where Bush gained by far the most percentage-wise over his 2000 showing were the cities (and among Hispanics). These polls don't show whether there was an actual increase in turnout among white evangelicals big enough to increase their share of the total vote -- but both polls actually show Bush running a little WEAKER in rural America than he did last time, which strongly suggests that this didn't happen. (I believe that the state where Bush improved his showing most over 2000 was NY State, where he rose fully 6% over his 2000 showing.)
And while there's overwhelming opposition to actual gay "marriage" (with its religious connotations), about half of Bush's voters also favored legalizing gay civil unions with all the legal rights of marriages (as did 3/4 of Kerry's voters). In short, while religious bigotry undeniably played a big part in Bush's two wins, it wasn't enough by itself to put him over. If the Dems slump into self-pitying, self-righteous moanings that a majority of people in this country are Nazis and there's no point in even trying to persuade them otherwise -- and that there's no need for the Dems to reexamine their military policy and how it looks to a lot of swing voters -- then they will be passing up an enormous opportunity to start winning elections again by just mildly adjusting some of ther positions (especially on foreign policy), without having to kowtow at all either to real bigotry or to social Darwinism.posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Beating M. Dowd is a really low bar IMHO. But me thinks Brooks has misrepresented the argument again - using the relative increase across the entire nation v. using the surge of voters in key states like Ohio.posted by: pgl on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
While I do think the whole "values voter" thing has been overblown, I'm deeply suspicious of the current efforts to explain it away by conservative commentators like Brooks. He says it's "flattering to liberals" to think that so many Republican voters are motivated by reactionary and even bigoted attitudes. Perhaps, but the flip side of that is that it's incredibly unflattering to folks like Brooks to think that so many of their political allies actually might be motivated by those kinds of attitudes. It seems to me that this is very much a case of Brooks et al. realizing just who and what they have to thank for their current political ascendence, and being a little too ashamed to admit it to themselves.posted by: Dave on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
"You watch, if Bush wins this election all that crap the Euro-snobs say about fat, stupid, ignorant Americans will be showing up everywhere from the LAtimes to NPR, with plenty of it spilling onto talk radio and op-eds. "
Posted by Mark Buehner at September 24, 2004 03:47 PM
posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Leave it to David Brooks to be so inept of a columnist that his work only seems to score points when contrasted against MoDo's drivel.posted by: Rob on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
This link will give you permenant, blog-friendly NY Times links.
Cheersposted by: Marc Brazeau on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
" I think it's simplistic, but assuming its basic truth, why would it be any less true when discussing appeasement of the hard core base (MoDo's subject) of Bush's coalition?
Some Call Me Tim,
As many liberals, you have no problem equating the politics of millions of your fellow Americans with the goals of godless terrorist organizations. This is why you are out of power. This is why you are not trusted. This is why you're a bitter leftists hating his own nation. Not that I'm complaining or anything. Your misery is your reward and better than anything I could think to give you.
Lay off the meth and read the next two sentences in my comment: "The logic of the line doesn't depend on the evilness of the Dane, does it? It depends on incentives mattering."
I don't think I saying anything more controversial than Republicans do when they claim that the Democrats are beholden to the teachers'union, and likely to act in ways that benefit that union. I'm just a lot more worried about the hard core conservative base than the teachers' union.posted by: SomeCallMeTim on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
The answer to your reality question is:
Which one of them is selling dollars and buying Euros?
That's the real reality check...
Cash spelled with an "r"
Crashposted by: koreyel on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Both Brooks and MoDo are pretty lame- just about unreadable. I admire Krugman as I love to hate Safire- both have the guts to say what they want and their columns are never boring.
As a liberal, I think the straight fact is that we'll have to come up with an ideology that appeals to more people. This year, it was sort of like: "President Bush sucks. He sucks really bad. Can't you see he sucks. So vote for us. And, um, we'll make medicine cheaper for grandma" That's good enough for card-carriers like me from California, but it isn't going to cut it as a national electoral strategy.
I don't know what the answer is- but it's something we'd better start figuring out- fast.posted by: BigMatt on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Perhaps the biggest problem with a commentator like Brooks is that he has to appear like he knows everything. In other words, he's going to present some sort of highly questionable thesis at times merely because he cannot be sure and does not want to appear as if he's in the lower rung of the pundits. This is not just a problem with Brooks, by the way.posted by: Brian on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Two huge cautions: The Democrats had better remember that -- if Bush hadn't bungled the iraq War beyond the wildest dreams of either his opponents or his supporters -- the Dems (including me) would not just be mourning a narow loss; they'd be picking themselves up with a spoon. And counting on your ideological opponent to always act like an idiot is not a very wise political strategy; that only works in animated cartoons. They have still got to do one hell of a lot of repair work on their military policy in the voters' eyes.
And the GOP had better remember that in four of the last six presidential elections where one candidate had a solid -- or even a landslide -- margin, the opposition won next time. And this one was no landslide, and no solid margin. Considering that Bush DOES have a habit of very often acting like an idiot, the opportunities for the Dems to recoup even in the near future -- let alone by 2008 -- are very large.posted by: Bruce Moomaw on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Small detail: a good number of Bush supporters have shown that they are indeed ignorant:
That many also are creationists is just icing on the cake.
McGruffposted by: McGruff on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
David Brooks should write about the percentages of certain groups that voted for Bush. Instead, he simply says that the share of all voters who are evangelicals, for example, remained the same, and therefore they didn't turn out for Bush in any greater extent than before.
But what if a higher proportion of those who are evangelical voted for Bush?posted by: Joe on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
This "drezner" guy is almost as funny as Jon Stewart, but his humor is too dry for me. It almost seems like he means what he writes.posted by: marky on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Religious bigots mouthing off in churches or unionized teachers actually molding young minds. Which is scarier?posted by: Ptolemy on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
The concern is not that they are just mouthing off in church...
it is that they want to impose their beliefs on other people, most by argument and reasonable persuasion, others by hypocritical and self-righteous political wheeling and dealing, guilt, greed, hate, fear, in short, cult tactics.
Frankly, extremists of any stripe are more dangerous than public school teachers any day of week.
Any other irrelevant comparisons?posted by: j swift on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
How? What is this alleged mechanism for fundamentalist take over? Allowing prayer in schools? Thats one step from burning witched at the stake...
teaching creationism = putting a condom on a banana?
That would be, um, comparing apples and oranges. Or can't you see the difference between arguable advice and wrong information?
While we're teaching kids nonsense, how bout we just them that 2 + 2 = 5? That would have about as much relation to reality as Bush administration policyposted by: McGruff on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
"Again, what is the mechanism by which Christians will affect the lives of any community outside their own?"
Maybe we'll get some good reports out of Fallujah on that topic.
"That would be, um, comparing apples and oranges. Or can't you see the difference between arguable advice and wrong information?"
You are missing the point. Why do you care what parents in some far off community decide to teach their kids? I agree that creationism is total BS, but if some little town in Iowa agrees to it what do I care?
Its so funny the hypocracy of this whole argument. Dems are worried that christians are going to somehow 'impose' their values, and the way they are going to do it is by stopping leftist ideology from being imposed on their little communities, communities that the elitists have never heard of and wouldnt be caught dead in.
Is creationism any more BS than half the crap our kids get shoveled in History classes these days?posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
"Maybe we'll get some good reports out of Fallujah on that topic"
I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Lest you forget the neocons are made up of nefarious joooows anyway.posted by: Mark Buehner on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Do you presume that every member of a given community is Christian? Or simply that the minority has no right to their own beliefs within that community?
I'm actually okay with teaching 'creationism' - if it was done in the right context. Like a comparison and contrasting of the beliefs of 10 major world religions. But I object to treating an article of faith as a science - where sex education is more health fact based.
For 40 years now, the Republican Party has been a refuge for bigots. Over time, the postioning of the Republicans as the party for white people has gotten more and more subtle until they nominated a president who doesn't do subtle and, besides, actually seems comfortable with black people, even if he has no appeal for them. So, in a change of fashion, gay is the new black for Republicans.
In American politics, turnout goes up when people want to vote against something-- almost always. Democrats were voting against Bush; Republicans were voting against a nuanced anti-terrorism policy and gays. Those Republican issues overlap, sure, but more than 3% of the electorate (the difference in this election) made their choice to reward bigotry.
Thoughtful conservatives don't want to admit that. But I suggest cataloguing writers' views on the importance of traditional values to this election. Those who deny its importance will be the most critical of this administration as it rewards its social conservative base for the next 4 years.posted by: James Withrow on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
"Again, what is the mechanism by which Christians will affect the lives of any community outside their own?"
"Maybe we'll get some good reports out of Fallujah on that topic."
"I have no idea what that is supposed to mean. Lest you forget the neocons are made up of nefarious joooows anyway."
Yes, but lots of the actual Marines are christians. We might get a look at the mechanism that they affect the lives of a community outside their own.
Weeks ago - before the election - I suggested
somthingcalledperhapstim said I was some
....tims track record is rather feeble.
And I ask again, what color suits should the
posted by: pragmatist on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Oh, I see it's those liberals who are elitists, but you don't care that some far off town in Iowa teaches its kids bs.
Why should you care? It's obvious. It's bad for children to be taught nonsense and told it's the indubitable truth. It's bad for them to be taught that science is just a matter of belief. It's bad for such views to be imposed on non believers. And its bad for our society in general to foster ignorance in its schools. Even our president senses this . . . sort of.
Is creationism any more bs than half the crap our kids get shoveled in history class? It would be nice if you had an example, but the short answer would be: yes. Deal with it. Your allies are committed to ignorance, and you don't care.posted by: McGruff on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Pragmatist, if you knew months ago that Bush would win, did you get your money out of the country? Did you stock up on staples? Did you bury firearms and ammo and food and fuel in several secret places? Did you make arrangements to find a safer place to live?
If not, why not? Did you not really believe your own predictions??
"Again, what is the mechanism by which Christians will affect the lives of any community outside their own?"
Hey Mark, what world do you live in?
Jehovah's Witnesses go door-to-door to spread their flavor of Christianity. Mormons spend huge amounts of money sending their young men and women on missions in the United States and internationally to convert. It is major tenet in the evangelical fundie flavor to bring people to Christ. As I noted some are not beyond using cult tactics to get what they want. Entirely to many of them are willing to walk the line and then pray for forgiveness at the end of day.
The Christian right has been pushing the prayer in school canard as some way to right the violation of their rights to free speech and religion.
That is disingenuous. They know damn good and well that their children can pray anytime they wish to themselves, not to mention the unprecedented freedoms they already enjoy. Publishing, free to leave country to proselytize in other countries, owning television stations, radio, it goes on and on.
The Christian Right wants prayer in schools for one reason - to have another avenue to proselytize.
That enough mechanisms for ya.posted by: j swift on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Dowd has given up journalism for fantasy. Consider the liberating feeling if the New York Times paid you to write whatever your imagination creats. Having said that, sometimes she's entertaining and interesting; just take her with a grain of salt.
In regard to Brooks, he was better when he wrote longer stuff in magazines (Atlantic, Weekly Standard) than in the NYT. In the column in question, he basically claims that Bush's advantage on the terrorism issue was not just necessary, but was actually sufficient to win the election (his claim that if you feel we're safer, you voted Bush, and if not, you voted Kerry, is evidence of this).
I can't accept this. There is a "values" issue. It is more a sensibility, I think, than a specific set of moral principles, but it is a necessary component of an electoral majority in America. It is a conservative sensibility, not endorsing a specific religious creed, but instead a common-sense approach to life reflected, for example, in the general discomfort with abortion cited by Brooks.
Yes, if Bush hadn't had an advantage in the "war on terror" issue he wouldn't have won; but also, if he hadn't had an advantage in the culture war, he wouldn't have won.
Values matter. This includes in Europe, too. I think, perhaps in disagreement with Kagan, that America and Europe are essentially the same, but in America, I think values may be changing more slowly than in Europe. I'd be interested in others' thoughts about value change (particularly as described by Inglehart at Michigan and those political scientists who have followed him).posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
Actually, I think it is a bit of both. Missouri would not have supported Bush in the war on terror without the massive "values" issue thrown in (with the gay "marriage" issue being only a small component of the general impression that Liberals are in a culture war with the rest of "us". That is horrifying because I am a Manhattan Liberal Democrat who voted Bush only because of 9-11 and Kerry's ridiculous attitude about wanting to go back to 9-10.
But, in general, the 3.5 million extra votes for Bush were because of the terrorism issue. The "Culture Wars" issue was part of the Democrat's problem on terror: they were nihilists, people who just wanted to play fast and loose not only with national security but with the semantic sensibilities of most Americans regarding the word "marriage."
More than 50% of those who voted against gay "Marriage" were not bigots, but normal citizens who were fighting irresponsible semantic attacks from the left, basically on our *language*. Those of us who voted against gay "marriage" are perfectly fine with legal civil unions and have 0% problem with gays (except maybe that discussing the issue might get boring to them within 10 seconds after it comes up - another reason to vote against gay marriage was that its proponents had had the audacity to make it an issue that was supposed to make people spend more than 10 seconds thinking about).
Advice to Dems: Get behind the war on terror and recognize that Iraq is now the central battlefield. Let gays have their civil unions and leave them out of the Dem platform next time.
At least in Florida and Ohio, Republicans outvoted Democrats by about 41% to 37%. Bush got a higher percentage of the R's than Kerry got of the D's. Basically, Bush executed his GOTV plan. They've been working it for four years. End of story.
To the larger point: Is there a slow migration of the country towards Republicanism. Maybe, probably, etc, but given that the traditional issues and platforms themselves have also flip-flopped, its a bit more complicated than asserting that this Republican party is my father's Republican party.
In part I think W. and Rove used some of their issues to "brand" the Republican team so that voters would know whose values most matched theirs.
I voted for Kerry. Ask me to give you the 20-second elevator pitch about what Kerry stands for?
That's branding.posted by: panu on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
j swift, my irrelevant comparison was addressed to Tim's comparison and was addressed to him. By all means, comment, but don't bother inserting yourself into the statement. I live surrounded by Christians here in Memphis but I feel no efforts to control me or my thinking. You don't like the Christian Right, fine, I don't either. There is a difference however when you project oppression or even terror comparisons as Tim did when talking about them. I don't know why the Left has to be told this over and over: your fellow Americans are not the bad guys. 49% of Wisconsin, 47% of Michigan voted for Bush. Do they fit your stereotypes? Oregon voted to ban gay marriage and voted for Kerry. I can count on the rednecks being embaressing but never have to concern myself with them selling my country out to outside forces indifferent to my nation's needs and beliefes. Can you claim the same for ANSWER and Soros?posted by: Ptolemy on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
I am a liberal NY Democrat who voted for Kerry because I wanted a real, sane war on terror. Saying you're fighting terror doesn't make it so. Alienating allies and pursuing an ideological agenda in the face of hard evidence to the contrary also doesn't equal fighting terror.
The "gay marriage" issue would have taken less than 10 seconds if I had my way. Its the folks who oppose it so vehemently who kept the issue front-and-center.posted by: YS on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
I must agree with YS, and I am not a liberal Ny Democrat, I am an Indiana Democrat, which probably puts me closer to many Repbublicans than to the angst-ridden Demo's of the east coast.
John Kerry did not want to return to 9/10 America; he wanted (I think and hope) to return to 9/11 America -- the America attacked by a non-state terrorist group. These terrorists needed to be dealt with in a non-state way; not traditional state-to-state war, but a more complex, more personal type of warfare that surely includes overthrowing the Taliban, but also includes a more targeted approach than simply taking out the Saddam regime.
Iraq as the main front in the war on terror? Perhaps it has become a self-fullfilling prophecy, but it need not have been so. We could have gone after actual terrorists, rather than allowing ourselves to be convinced Iraq was the locus of terrorism.posted by: Andrew Steele on 11.07.04 at 03:36 PM [permalink]
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