New York Times opinion columnist David Brooks should have that famous epitaph tattooed on his forehead.
He was once an independent, erudite, interesting essayist of conservative leanings. Then he accepted big bucks to be the New York Times’ token conservative pundit. Soon, after forced contact with Charles Blow, Thomas Friedman and Paul Krugman, the Times version on the Stockholm Syndrome took over shortly before the election of Donald Trump, whom, to be fair, the tweedy and classist Brooks surely would have regarded as icky even before his re-education by the Times. Today’s model of David Brooks is incapable of objective analysis, He serves a neon-bright cautionary tale of what happens when bias eats away at one’s analytical abilities and credibility.
Take his latest column…please.
It is called “The Sad Tales of George Santos,” but it quickly devolves into one more gratuitous attack on Donald Trump. What it most reveals, however, is how far David Brooks has fallen.
Halfway through this mess, Brooks writes, after stating the obvious about Rep.-elect George Santos,
In a sense Santos is a sad, farcical version of where Donald Trump has taken the Republican Party — into the land of unreality, the continent of lies. Trump’s takeover of the G.O.P. was not primarily an ideological takeover, it was a psychological and moral one. I don’t feel sorry for Trump the way I do for Santos, because Trump is so cruel. But he did introduce, on a much larger scale, the same pathetic note into our national psychology.
How is Donald Trump like Santos? He isn’t. The only connection is that the Trump Deranged like Brooks can find ways to connect anything they find repulsive or objectionable to the former President.George Santos ran for the House and won while misrepresenting and lying about every aspect of his life, career, and achievements (that is, the lack of them). In sharp contrast with Santos, there has never been a Presidential candidate about whom the public and the media knew as much about as they did Donald Trump. We knew exactly who and what he was. Trump didn’t hide it. He had proudly promoted his personality, opinions and background for decades. Like them or not, he also had real accomplishments and successes. Not only that, but Trump is in the top echelon of Presidents who governed almost exactly as he promised he would.
That also puts him in sharp contrast with Brooks, who joined the Times while creating the expectation that he would remain competent, fair, objective, analytical and professional, all of which he has abandoned or lost, as this column proves. Brooks doesn’t bother to explain how Trump’s influence over the GOP is moral corruption, he just states it as fact without support. How is Trump “cruel”? Is Brooks talking about his tweets, or substance? Oh, never mind: David knows his readers are as Trump-Deranged as he is, so Facts Don’t Matter. And progressive Democrats have been smearing Republicans as cruel for almost a hundred years. Require people to work in order to make money? Cruel. Insist that people be qualified for their colleges and jobs? Cruel. Punish criminals? Cruel. Insist that immigrants follow U.S. laws and procedures? Cruel.
Once a stickler for substantive evidence, Brooks appeals to authority for his latest Trump Dump to “eminent personality psychologist Dan McAdams” who wrote a click-bait book called “The Strange Case of Donald J. Trump.” Genuin eminent psychologists don’t psychoanalyze people they have never met, examined, or properly diagnosed. Once, David Brooks would have been the first to point that out, because he was a professional, and had standards. That David Brooks is gone. Long gone.
“McAdams quotes people who had been close to Trump who reported that being with him wasn’t like being with a conventional person; it was like being with an entity who was playing the role of Donald Trump,” Brooks writes. Well, first, those are hearsay accounts from people who didn’t care for Trump, being translated into an unethical diagnosis by a psychologist violating the ethical standards of his discipline, being cited as damning evidence by a partisan critic. Second, as someone who studied the personalities of our Presidents, I must point out that remoteness and lack of accessibility are characteristics frequently seen in leaders. They are difficult to know; they keep themselves apart because they see themselves a separate and different. Washington, Polk, Lincoln, FDR, Nixon and Reagan often struck associates this way. As that list suggests, such a tendency is not a handicap in the White House.
Going back to Santos, Brooks concludes,
Karl Marx famously said that under the influence of capitalism, all that’s solid melts into air. I wonder if some elixir of Trumpian influence and online modernity can have the same effect on individual personalities.
It’s come to this: the erstwhile conservative is reduced to quoting Karl Marx about the evil of capitalism, while blaming the unprecedented fake candidacy of George Santos on Donald Trump.
Remember friends as you pass by
As you are now so once was I
As I am now so you soon well be
Prepare yourself to follow me…
…unless you learn now that bias makes you stupid, just as it has David Brooks. If enough people can take that lesson away from his latest column, it will have some value after all.