The Narrative: David Brooks' Fantasy World

David Brooks builds a fantasy world where his favored polices, tax cuts, would have been rational policy in response to the Great Recession:

The Democrats could be heading toward a defeat of historic proportions in November, but it is possible to imagine a scenario in which things might have turned out differently:

On Dec. 16, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama and his senior aides gathered for a briefing on the state of the U.S. economy. It was horrifying. The economy was on the verge of collapse. There was little prospect that robust growth would be returning anytime soon. Many of the president-elect’s advisers had been reading histories of the New Deal. They had ambitious plans to address the crisis: federal jobs programs, new building projects, new spending initiatives. This was no time to worry about deficits, they said. This was an opportunity to address needs that had been neglected for decades.

Obama, in this fanciful version, held up his hand. He told his aides to put away the history books and reject the New Deal comparisons. Unlike in 1932, Americans today have a raging distrust of Washington, he observed. Living through a crisis caused by excessive debt, they will viscerally recoil at the prospect of federal debt without end. “Somehow,” Obama concluded, “we have to address the crisis without further terrifying the American people.”

(Emphasis supplied.) Brooks' fantasy and the reality of policies that would work are unconnected. Consider the words he puts in Obama's mouth. "Unlike in 1932, Americans of today have a raging distrust of Washington." Put aside the new revelation that Herbert Hoover had inspired deep trust in Washington, Brook's imaginary Obama does not ask what the right policy is for the crisis, rather what policy would play best politically. Brooks is not imagining a Profile in Courage here. More . . .

It gets better. Brooks, who centers his argument on the fear of government debt, imagines Obama's response to this fear as - wait for it - tax cuts. Because in Brooks' mind (as in every Republican's mind), debt caused by tax cuts is not really debt.

The stimulus package, [Brooks' imaginary Obama] continued, should rely heavily on cutting payroll taxes. This, he argued, will send a quick jolt to the economy without concentrating power in Washington. It will deliver a sharp psychological boost to the middle class. It might even be bipartisan. Obama noted that John McCain had a $445 billion stimulus plan along these lines and his fellow Republican senator, Mel Martinez, a $713 billion plan.

Yes, because the problem was psychological you see. Americans are too stupid to realize that government debt is, well, government debt. Brooks' fantasy continues:

Nancy Pelosi and the Democratic committee chairmen were upset. For decades they’d been storing up spending proposals. This was their chance to pass them all. The president told the House speaker that she would get many of her priorities, but not in a 100-day rush. Privately, Democratic aides developed a political strategy they called Save Nancy From Herself.

She may know San Francisco, they warned, but she doesn’t know America. If she has her way, the Democratic Party will spiral back to 40 percent support and she’ll be minority leader again.

This is the liberal overreach nonsense that Time magazine is selling. It is, of course, a flat out lie. Obam got his way. No one else.

But Brooks' entire fantasy is a lie, and a deliberate one. This is part of The Beltway Narrative that will seek to blame progressivism for their own failings.

Indeed, this David Brooks column tells you all you need to now about how foolish Obama has been to seek the favor of people like Brooks. It is a revealing column - both about Brooks and the foolishness in the Obama set that wooed Brooks.

The consequences of this foolishness will be the beatdown Dems will receive in November. The Beltway Dems get all the credit for it.

Speaking for me only

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  • Display: Sort:
    David Brooks is insidiously evil. (5.00 / 1) (#1)
    by observed on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:00:32 PM EST
    He's much worse than some of the raving lunatics on the right, because he sounds more sensible.
    He's still the same bloodthirsty, irrational lunatic as a Tea Partier though.
    Google his "A burden too heavy.." column from Nov. 2003, in which he argued that the challenge for Americans supporting the Iraq war was that they might not have the stomach to support our troops after they committed atrocities (and they surely would, he argued).
    He's just vile.

    He doesn't sound more sensible (none / 0) (#22)
    by NealB on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 09:50:58 PM EST
    You can almost add it up. Every other sentence he writes sounds like it might be sensible. Then you read the next sentence and wonder.

    He's a mindfvcker. I've done that. So have you.

    Would I do it for the NYTimes for a lot of money? Would you?

    Like Obama, you just don't quite know what he's after.


    Have (5.00 / 2) (#2)
    by Ga6thDem on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:03:40 PM EST
    you decided that being a "media darling" is worth a warm bucket of spit in the end?

    Here's Robert Reich's solutions: (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:17:20 PM EST

    And Krugman lays the groundwork for defense (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by vicndabx on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:38:28 PM EST
    Why isn't Robert Reich... (none / 0) (#16)
    by NealB on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 05:41:41 PM EST
    ...in Obama's administration? He has more ideas in one person than any ten or twenty of Obama's chosen economic advisers do.

    All Obama seems to know is what not to do.


    Very good question. As Reich endorsed (none / 0) (#23)
    by oculus on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 11:37:44 PM EST
    Obama early on in the primaries.

    Liberal overreach will get all the credit (5.00 / 3) (#14)
    by Demi Moaned on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 04:09:02 PM EST
    It's not just Time Magazine that promotes this.

    It was clear to me from before the '08 election that liberalism would get the blame for any failures of the Obama Administration, therefore it would be nice to actually implement liberal policies.

    You can say that (5.00 / 1) (#24)
    by JamesTX on Sat Sep 04, 2010 at 12:25:42 AM EST
    again, and again. But I guess it makes no difference now. It is amazing how we came out of this brief taste of victory with nothing but blame for what the Republicans actually did, and now we are going back to the policies that put us in the current mess. What a wise move! I am beginning to think Americans get what they deserve. The poor suckers who will suffer most are going to vote for it. Why argue with them? We've lost control of the language. We've lost the cultural wisdom that drives survival. We have submitted to the beast, and it has gone past the tipping point.

    The win in November will be seen as an implied mandate for all the raw evil the conservatives stopped short of before 2008, but which lived in their fantasies. The main thing that made comparisons of the last few years of conservative madness to Germany in the 1930s sound so silly was that Germany's economy was completely trashed, while in the last few decades ours was only ailing -- having its good days and bad days. This time they'll have all parts of the formula in place -- insane nationalism and religiosity, crashing economy, identity politics, new technology for tracking people and better killing technology, etc. It won't be pretty. They are going to have to start the process of actually killing off or formally enslaving the lower economic rungs in an unprecedented way soon. They will, like Germany, come up with some category of people who are to blame for it all, and off we go. The time is up. It's time to cash in the chips on the great American free market poker game. If you're not worth seven figures, then the next ten years are going to be all about simply disposing of you -- for good. I don't look forward to it. I'm going to start looking into the Hemlock society and other ways of checking out peacefully.


    Wasn't it Blackwaterdog who (none / 0) (#3)
    by observed on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:12:21 PM EST
    argued very recently that Obama was doing well because Brooks was saying nice things about the President?

    How can you (none / 0) (#9)
    by Warren Terrer on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:54:44 PM EST
    read that stuff?

    I don't.. I just read about it here and (5.00 / 1) (#11)
    by observed on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 02:48:05 PM EST
    verified by clicking over at Orangistan.

    Brooks gets it from both sides. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Buckeye on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:16:51 PM EST
    The left hates him because he is right of center.  The Limbaughs hate him because he is not conservative enough for them.

    He just helps their Overton window. (none / 0) (#6)
    by observed on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:20:38 PM EST
    Brooks is far to the right of any rational Republican (if such a creature exists anymore).
    Remember his column about gays and their "spiritual suicide"?
    He could be an apologist for genocide, no sweat.

    Brooks,Reich,Krugman,Geithner, et al (none / 0) (#17)
    by norris morris on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 05:56:55 PM EST
    Brooks is just expressing center right policies which are no mystery.

    Obama is not much bettter as he has implemented a failed economic model as both Reich and Krugman explain.

    Obama is a combo of center right, center, and occasionally center left.  Obama is far from a liberal but has allowed the right to label him as such because Obama cannot fight back. Why?? Because he promised progressives of all stripes a lot he hasn't delivered. Indies are deserting him
    as they know he's compromised in backrooms. Young progressives are tuned out as they have no work and feel misled in the quagmire of unemployment.

    The middle class and seniors have been trashed.

    Healthcare is a swindle that gives 30 million no choice except to pay private insurance for coverage and be punished with fines if they can't or refuse.  Who will be able to afford private insurance by 2014 when it's not affordable now?
    And drugs? Obama made his private deal with BigPharma and seniors continue to be screwed.

    Everyone hates the Healthcare Bill and no one really knows its true details and resent how it was put together and underhandedly compromised.
    Obama is not able to sell and close the deal.TeaBaggers hate it for other reasons, and progressives and Indies wanted a public option.

    The time to act on our econonomic meltdown passed as Obama's tin ear and need to be another FDR   squandered his mandate by making healthcare the primary issue as the economy kept tanking.

    But his economic team assured Obama it was ok and yeah...the future would be great after the stimulus.  Meaning the long term.  Duh.

    Obama is now ensconsed in the Audacity of Taupe in newly decorated Oval Office which now looks like a hotel conference room in the midwest.   Taupe,brown,and noncommital beige.
    Safe,uninspired, and completely inappropriate for the Oval Office, it's history and message for the American people.

    And the new rug is rimmed with FDR,Kennedy,Lincoln quotations etc., as Obama believes he's in their company, and lest you forget this for a minute you really can't avoid realizing that our narcissist in chief is totally out of his league.

    The pathetic  [mica] waterfall style coffee table has a bowl of apples on it as a prop. Really who is going to munch an apple in that room?  Dear dear, where would the cores go?

    The body language of the newly designed Obama Oval Office is clearly out of sync and makes no sense.

    Obama has handed the Congress back to the GOP from his brown leather bubble.


    The only thing (none / 0) (#19)
    by Zorba on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 06:52:12 PM EST
    I have to disagree with you, norris morris, is:
    Obama is a combo of center right, center, and occasionally center left.  Obama is far from a liberal but has allowed the right to label him as such because Obama cannot fight back. Why?? Because he promised progressives of all stripes a lot he hasn't delivered.

    I don't think that Obama ever wanted to "fight back."  I think that this is what he always wanted, but wanted to snooker progressives that he, too, was progressive from the get-go, but couldn't do anything about it because of the Republicans, with whom he was trying to be all "Bi-partisan."  

    If you really want to put yourself over the edge (none / 0) (#8)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 01:47:55 PM EST
    Think about how much money he makes.

    What would GOP do differently for economy? (none / 0) (#10)
    by BobTinKY on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 02:36:18 PM EST
    Enact a big stimulus package?  This is the wild card in this election, are voters concerned about the sh!tty economy just going to vote for the other guy without regard to what the other guy's solutions might be?

    I have heard nothing from the GOP that would constitute any different economic policy  than that during the Bush Amdinistration - tax cuts.  Well we have had Bush's tax rates for years, where are the jobs?

    If Obama and Dems don't offer a drastically different plan then I can see the incentive voting for the other guy to punish Dems.  That's where we seem to be now.  But if Dems offer an aggressive plan, i.e. more stimulus to build lasting infrastructure, to put people to work then there's a choice.  What have Dems got to lose? The status quo leaves them out of a power.

    The GOP? (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by norris morris on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 06:03:09 PM EST
    The GOP wasn't elected. This was Obama's problem as President lest you forget. Stop apologizing for a failed administration.

    The GOP totally snookered Obama because he allowed this to happened. Inexperience coupled with naivete and a poor group of advisors added the coup de grace.


    bigger tax cuts (none / 0) (#12)
    by souvarine on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 02:59:59 PM EST
    Yep, Dems should offer a dramatically different plan of investing in the American people. But they won't, Obama is offering business tax cuts instead.

    The GOP is saying "I see your tax cuts, and I raise you bigger tax cuts!" Mike Pence:

    So the first thing that we will do is try to preserve the tax relief of 2001 and 2003 for all Americans -- for all small businesses and family farmers. But we also want to look at the kind of across-the-board tax relief, the kind of tax relief that will encourage capital formation, to get this economy moving again.

    Tax cuts are expensive stimulus, but they are still stimulus. A larger Republican tax cut plan will be more stimulative than what Obama is considering. I don't like their approach, but if it were large enough it would be effective and I can't see Obama vetoing it given growing unemployment.

    It astounds me that out of power Republicans are making a better case on job growth than Democrats.


    Yup - after Dems conceded so much (5.00 / 1) (#15)
    by ruffian on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 04:27:19 PM EST
    tax-cuts-as-stimulus ground in 2009, there is no reason for people to think that more is not better.

    Since the 2009 stimulus bill did not contain enough spending as stimulus, and did not work, the R's are going to argue that it did not work because it was too much spending and not enough tax cuts. They are sure not going to enact more spending as stimulus.

    Unless, as I said in another thread, they rediscover their love of the pork barrel.  


    In my world (none / 0) (#13)
    by Che's Lounge on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 03:57:22 PM EST
    Brooks should be in a padded cell wearing a straight jacket getting shot up with mega doses of haloperidol. If Brooks is reality then I am definitely insane.

    Nothing (none / 0) (#20)
    by NYShooter on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 08:53:42 PM EST
    Can save Obama now, except...............

    A Saturday Night Massacre.

    Fire the whole bunch!

    Obama's senior advisors are not like you and me; they can't just give advice and if it fails, oh well, tsk, tsk, too bad; we'll try something else next time. With the power & responsibility they are entrusted with they either get it right, or off to the metaphorical firing squad! We are talking about the health and well-being of 300 million Americans; they simply don't have the luxury as we do, of being wrong.

    Doctors don't, Generals don't, and certainly Economic Advisors don't either.

    Brooks doesn't bother much with communicating... (none / 0) (#21)
    by NealB on Fri Sep 03, 2010 at 09:39:56 PM EST
    ...he just says whatever's on his mind. He's got a lot on his mind so, not surprisingly, he assumes his readers do, too, also.

    We don't, of course.

    But he posted an op-ed on the day before December 15, 2008 that, if your read it, ...

    Oh, jesus christ why am I bothering to analyze a dickwad like David Brooks. God bless him and all that for finding nirvana in the still point of his ego, but why the hell should any other sentient being give a crap what the fvck he's got to say about anything?

    Obama said it best the last time he said anything that was worth saying: enough.

    I don't want to punish the Dems. (none / 0) (#25)
    by weltec2 on Mon Sep 06, 2010 at 10:33:27 PM EST
    In 1968 I voted for Fred Halstead (SWP) for President. After I did that I promised myself I would never throw my vote away again. I went with Obama in the last election. It was a mistake. I won't do it again. If he's my only Dem choice in 2012, I simply won't vote.