Ethics Dunce: Times Op-Ed Columnist Frank Bruni

Mazel tov, ass.

Mazel tov, ass.

Is this column signature significance? Is it possible that someone could write something like this and not be an utter jerk?

I was considering writing a post about Scott Walker’s withdrawal from the GOP race for the Presidential nomination.  He realized he wasn’t going to win, and maybe even that he was in over his head, so he got out. Bravo. For proud people, quitting is an act of courage. It was the right thing to do, in contrast with the increasingly loathsome Mike Huckabee, who says that he and his theocratic, anarchistic view of government are in the race til the end. Great. Asked if he believed it was reasonable to have elected officials defying the Supreme Court, Huckabee answered, “If the Court is wrong!”

Anyone who can’t figure out what’s the matter with that answer should not allowed outside without a leash, much less allowed to vote, and this dolt is running for President.

But back to Gov. Walker. I knew he was toast the first time he spoke in the first debate. This is my business, one of them anyway. I have to measure presence, because leaders, like actors, have to have it. Walker disappeared on screen. He has slack expressions and a flat voice; he doesn’t project energy or authority. You can’t be a leader if you don’t seem like a leader. Before George Washington was President and before he or anyone else know what a President of the U.S. was, there was near unanimity that whatever it was, George looked like it.

Not Scott.

A lot of this is cosmetic and technique: give me two hours with a Scott Walker and I guarantee he will be 100% better on screen.  After the first national impression is made, though, it’s too late for me or anyone else. Say what you want about the other ten candidates and even the four outcasts, they have presence. (Well, not Dr. Carson, but he came closer than Walker.) Bruni, being ignorant and biased, thinks the reason Walker sunk was because he’s stupid.

This is the general attitude of biased partyists like Bruni: conservatives and Republicans are stupid, or they are evil. Bernie Sanders can toss out economic gibberish for weeks, and the Brunis of the world—the Times has about ten of them–won’t challenge the depth of his brain pan; Hillary Clinton can say that she had no idea that using a private server for communications raised security issues for the Secretary of State, which is so stupid and ignorant that it makes my toes hurt, and never have her IQ doubted. A Scott Walker, however, is presumed stupid, because, all conservatives must be….unless they are evil. Let’s see, the conventional wisdom on the Presidential candidates from the Republican side since 1952:

Ike: Stupid.

Nixon: Evil

Goldwater: Evil

Ford: Stupid

Reagan: Stupid

Bush I: Stupid

Dole: Evil

Bush 2: Stupid

McCain: Stupid

Romney: Evil

Bruni clearly thinks Walker is stupid and evil. You can tell from various hints in his column that he had a slew of veiled slurs based on Walker’s lack of a college degree loaded and ready should Walker become a viable candidate, and of course opposing unions is evil. Actually, it’s nearly evil to pretend a public union is the same as a union, which Bruni does by not making the distinction. (This is the progressive way: immigrants and illegal immigrants are also the same thing, unworthy of distinction.) Public unions embody inherent conflicts of interest and a quid pro quo scam, which Walker, miraculously for a man with the intellect of a sea sponge, somehow grasps while brilliant progressives like Bruni do not.

Biases—which make all people stupid, but do not necessarily make them Republicans, which is a puzzlement–lead Bruni to an embarrassing display of confirmation bias. Today Walker-kickers all over the web were mocking him for an incident years ago in which he intended to write “mazel tov” in a letter to a Jewish constituent, and instead wrote: “Thank you again and Molotov.” Bruni, like the other Republican haters I have among my Facebook friends, see this as smoking gun proof that Walker is a moron. When someone you respect says something equally stupid, of course, it’s a meaningless gaffe. Joe Biden says more idiotic things in a week than Walker has in a lifetime, and Bruni will never cherry pick one of his verbal meltdowns. Obama, infamously, pronounces the “ps” in corps, a trust-busting error for a Commander in Chief, and not funny, unlike using Molotov for “mazel tov.” Well, never mind: we all know Obama’s brilliant, so it doesn’t count. And we all know Bruni has never had an equally embarrassing howler caught by an editor or an interm. Imagine a world where your worst typo or “speak-o” would be held against you for the rest of your life. In my case, I think I’d have to head for the woodchipper.

Total lack of awareness of one’s own flaws, biases and blatant inconsistencies is the true mark of intellectual deficiency. Walker realized when he couldn’t cut it as a Presidential candidate: what’s Bruni’s exuse for not reading today’s tripe and realizing, “Gee, maybe it’s time to open that sex toy shop?” He writes, “I’m weary and wary of politicians whose ambitions precede and eclipse any serious, necessary preparation for the office they seek. Walker is a perfect example.”

Walker is a perfect example? Scott Walker has served as a governor of a large industrial state for five years before running for President. Barack Obama had no leadership preparation whatsoever, domestic or foreign, before daring to call himself Presidential timber.

Ah, but you see, being prepared isn’t required if you are intelligent, which is defined as “agreeing with Frank Bruni.”

13 thoughts on “Ethics Dunce: Times Op-Ed Columnist Frank Bruni

  1. In fairness, Walker premised his candidacy on being the tough guy standing up to public employee unions. One can’t expect the union partisans who dominate the NYT not to gloat a bit when the candidacy implodes. The NYT is simply meeting expectations here.

      • SamePenn,
        I’ve never heard that expression (which isn’t saying much). I’m aware of what footlights are, but am not entirely sure I understand the meaning in this context. Please elucidate me.


        • There are several references in the post to the manner in which Walker does (or rather, does not) present himself. One: “I have to measure presence, because leaders, like actors, have to have it.”

          Leaders have to be seen to be thus when on stage, to speak with strong voices; in other words, they must be able to ‘come across the footlights’ to reach their audience, their public.

          Hope that does it, Neil. Clarity is not always my strong point.

  2. And yet what nailed it for me is Bruni’s use of book titles he has clearly not read to score snark points. Clearly he’s not a “Crowd”.

  3. He’s stretching. According to Krauthammer’s excellent formula Walker is undeniably evil, because that is presupposed when a liberal thinks about a conservative. But for a liberal to call a conservative stupid requires extraordinary proof. And so it will ever be liberals, being stupid, cannot, with authenticity, prove a conservative is stupid.

  4. “Bernie Sanders can toss out economic gibberish for weeks, and the Brunis of the world—the Times has about ten of them–won’t challenge the depth of his brain pan”

    Because there is a belief by progressives out there (unfounded of course) that Keynesianism, even the kind preached by Sanders, is actually an intelligent system to use…

    As long as that flawed premise is a premise, the only conclusion they CAN draw is that Bernie Sanders’ economic advice ISN’T unintelligent.

    • Going on a tangent on Keynesianism, I’ve just started reading what he actually wrote, and – oh boy! – he would be horrified by the current quantitative easing nonsense given one of his top concerns was governments making policy without looking at the long term consequences.

      • Yes but “being concerned about governments making decisions without considering long term consequences” is just a general platitude held by everyone. I don’t think that counts as an objection.

  5. Did not Frank Bruni once write an article about Islam’s teachings on drinking alcohol, claiming that it is “warranted” that mosque leaders must be made to take drinking alcohol “off the sin list”?

  6. I remember the “Democrats smart and admirable/Republicans dumb and reprehensible” trope from college days. I guess I’d always assumed people would grow out of it over time. Boy, was I ever wrong about that one. I have to think in large part it’s an Acela Corridor thing. (Don’t you love the term “Acela Corridor?” If that doesn’t ooze East Coast Liberal Elitism, I don’t know what does.) It’s just symptomatic of a big problem in the culture, at least the opinion part. Fortunately, I think there are still a lot of people in the U.S. (maybe Hillary’s “Everyday People” or was that Sly and the Family Stone?) who are keeping their heads down and working and paying taxes while the chattering and academic classes (predominantly lefty) yammer away. At least that’s my hope because it’s clear to me people my age (64) aren’t going to change their views on anyone who’s not a fervent lefty Democrat. Ever.

  7. Jack,
    Actually, throughout the eight years of the second Bush Presidency he was labeled as both “stupid” AND “evil,” sometimes in the same diatribe. That was the part that was particularly fascinating to me about the Truther crowd; on the one hand they’d criticize Bush for not understanding the economy or foreign policy and, on the other, talk about how he helped carry out one of the most flawlessly-executed military operations in history.


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