Deconstructing David Brooks
The New York Times columnist translated Bush's "Meet the Press" debacle for those who missed its hidden wisdom. Now let's translate Brooks.
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By James Pinkerton
Feb. 11, 2004 | "Like most of us, President Bush doesn't have the facility for perfectly expressing his situation in conversation. But if he did, he might have said something like this to Tim Russert in the interview broadcast Sunday ..." So David Brooks began a remarkable column in Tuesday's New York Times.
In other words, if the president faltered, or failed to convince, or otherwise deviated from the neocon line, surely it was but a trip of the tongue, not a rebellion of the mind. So like a frustrated Cyrano de Bergerac shoving his blundering frontman aside, Brooks proceeds to voice the heartfelt thoughts that tantalizingly didn't come out of the president's mouth, although they so obviously should have. For the right words are words to move the hearts of patriots to love and to conquest.
Since Brooks has no qualms about lip-syncing for the inarticulate, I'm happy to provide a similar service for Brooks, subtitling for the all-too-articulate. Indeed, so smooth is Brooks' gloss on what Bush should have said that I feel I must spell it out for the American people, most of whom don't read the Times. So here follows a translation of David Brooks' vision of George W. Bush's vision, in 10 straight-up simple talking points for the noncognoscenti. And by the way, Mr. President, I hope you're paying attention this time.
I, David Brooks, say that Bush meant to say:
1. You, the American people, must be afraid. Your level of fear is the measure of your grasp of reality. Absolute Fear is Absolute Truth, and must be the driver of all your deeds.
2. Optional wars of aggression make countries safer. Strike first, then repeat indefinitely. Going on the attack diminishes the number, motivation and activity of your enemies.
3. Occupation, and imposing different values by force, is freedom. Success in neocolonialist enterprises is probable. And triumph is inevitable, if we have enough Will.
4. Sins of commission are better than sins of omission: This means America, a big rich country with a lot to lose, must act like a poor desperate country with nothing to lose. This is known as "national greatness."
5. We are fighting pure evil and the hate in men's souls -- the human condition. This will take a "generational commitment," and then some. So hurry up, Mrs. Gomez, and bear more sons.
6. Of course, the adversarial elites oppose the Iraq war. Therefore, I have had to put my faith in The People -- only to realize that the masses are more interested in their private fleshly pursuits than in their public martial duties. In fact, I slept through that Janet Jackson halftime show, because I've been laboring so long at my lonely Churchillian duties. Fortunately, I've still got the military ready to join me in this world-historical crusade.
7. Oh wait: Much of the military is critical of this open-ended, no-exit-strategy war. Good thing they don't have free speech. I will put on another quasi-military costume to convince them I'm one of them.
8. Got God? Check. And if God's on my side, where does that leave you?
9. I never said I was against Big Government.
10. Finally, if you disagree with any of this, you may be an anti-Semite. Oops, that was just me again, David Brooks. Couldn't help myself.
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About the writer
James P. Pinkerton is a columnist for Newsday and a fellow at the New America Foundation