Brooks, one-time Obama lover, declares Obamism dead

Not just the health care bill, but the entire Obamagenda. David Brooks writes at the New York Times:

… The stimulus package, the cap-and-trade legislation and the health care bill were all blends of expert planning and political power-broking. This project would have permanently changed government’s role in national life.

It was not to be. Voters are in no mood for a wave of domestic transformation. The economy is already introducing enough insecurity into their lives. Unlike 1932 and 1965, Americans do not trust Washington to take them on a leap of faith, especially if it means more spending.

The country has reacted harshly to the course the administration ended up embracing. Obama is still admired personally, but every major proposal—from the stimulus to health care—is quite unpopular. Independent voters have swung against the administration. Voters are not reacting to the particulars of each bill. They are reacting against the total activist onslaught.

A president can’t lead a social transformation without a visceral bond with the center of the electorate and without being in step with the rhythm of the times. Obama is lacking these things. As a result, the original Obama project, the third Democratic wave, is dead.

The administration resists this conclusion, just as it took the Bush administration a while to recognize that Social Security reform, and the larger privatization dream, was dead. But federal activism will not mark the next three years.

The next challenge is to find a new project, a new one-sentence description of what this administration hopes to achieve….

The rest of the column is blather about the sort of things Obama should do for the next three years, now that his legislative program has been defeated. It consists of fascinating ideas such as: “practice bi-partisanship.”

- end of initial entry -

Richard C. writes:

Re: David Brooks’ NY Times article declaring Obama’s agenda dead: We might also say that Rahm Emanuel’s famous lines “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste,” and “This crisis provides the opportunity for us to do things that you could not do before.” have proved to be a failure.

Paul K. writes:

I’m struck by this line in Brooks’s column:

“Obama is still admired personally, but every major proposal—from the stimulus to health care—is quite unpopular.”

I seem to recall that Brooks and others regularly stress Obama’s supposed continuing popularity. Is he really that popular personally, or is this just a polite way of saying, “It’s not that he’s black, it’s just that we don’t like his policies.”

Ian B. writes:

Wait, is Brooks trying to tell us that Obama is no longer a moderate bipartisan as he previously spent months insisting that he was, but that he is now an activist? Gee, when did that happen? Brooks couldn’t possibly mean that Obama was an activist all along, because that would mean that Brooks was not only mistaken, but so immensely gullible and so completely wrong that it’s actually comical, and Brooks hasn’t acknowledged making any such fundamental error in judgment. So, it would be nice if Brooks would write an article explaining when precisely he thinks it was that Obama changed from a moderate to a socialist radical, and what he thinks precipitated such a rapid change.

LA replies:

Y’know, I forgot about that!

LA continues:

In fact, it’s almost a year since Brooks changed his view of Obama. On March 3, 2009, he dramatically announced that he had realized to his dismay that Obama was not the thoughtful centrist Brooks had thought was, but a “transformational liberal.” Here’s the entry I wrote about it (the Brooks column is quoted in its entirety in the entry):

A meretricious triangulator at the end of his tether

David Brooks’s op-ed in the March 3 New York Times is one of the most offensive pieces, and probably the most incoherent, he’s ever done. He is such a shameless whore it’s hard for him to out-do himself. But he did it this time.

The short of it is: Brooks to his dismay realizes he was wrong about Obama’s being a centrist: “Barack Obama is not who we thought he was. His words are responsible; his character is inspiring. But his actions betray a transformational liberalism that should put every centrist on notice.” But, Brooks continues, the Republicans/conservatives are even worse, and nothing must be done to help bring them back to power. Therefore the “centrists” and the “moderate conservatives” (and the whole piece is addressed exclusively to these groups, not to the general reader, and certainly not to conservatives, whom Brooks openly disdains) must defeat Obama’s program, but without allying with the conservatives, who are contentious and polarizing low-brows . The upshot is that David Brooks and his 300 David Brooks centrists, standing between the millions of Democrats in front of them and the millions of conservatives behind them, are going to stop Obama without fighting Obama, and without polarizing the country, while they simultaneously denounce the conservatives who also oppose Obama’s program.

The goal, says Brooks, is to bring Obama back to his “best self.” But Brooks has already said that the centrist Obama he had believed in and supported was a false Obama—so what “best self” is there for Obama to return to?

If, as a result of Obama’s now-unmasked radicalism, even a smooth manipulator like Brooks is intellectually falling apart before our eyes, that is a sign that we are indeed in a national crisis. The one good thing about the article is that Brooks has at last dropped his transparent mask of being a conservative and has come out openly as an enemy of conservatism—which, of course, he has been all along.

To see more VFR entries on the Love Song of David Brooks and Barack Obama, Google:

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Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 12, 2010 01:53 AM | Send

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