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Don’t Look At Us — We Didn’t Do It!


Ah, Bobo — your commitment do bothsidesdoitism really can produce comedy gold:

“He’s already started with a perfectly designed gun control package, inviting a long battle with the N.R.A. over background checks and magazine clips. That will divide the gun lobby from suburbanites. Then he can re-introduce Bush’s comprehensive immigration reform. That will divide the anti-immigration groups from the business groups (conventional wisdom underestimates how hard it is going to be for Republicans to back comprehensive reforms).

“Then he could invite a series of confrontations with Republicans over things like the debt ceiling — make them look like wackos willing to endanger the entire global economy.”

Yes. Look like.

See, it’s not that congressional Republicans are radicals willing to take the world economy hostage. No, no, no — they’re all really Brooksian moderates, who conniving Democrats make look like radical crackpots through the evil mechanism of “not going out of their way to allow Republicans to hold their radical, enormously unpopular positions.” Democrats shouldn’t play politics — what room is there for that in the United States Congress or the White House — they just focus on some stuff that we’ll pretend House Republicans would support even though they wouldn’t. When they don’t, of course, this will be Obama’s fault, for not doing the right thing and vacating his office so that my fellow faux-moderate Mitch Daniels can take over.

UPDATE: Much more here.

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  • From the column:

    I may be earnest, but I’m not an idiot.

    I LOL’d. I LOL’d so hard.

    (Also: no linky in your “Update” FYI.)

    • Scott Lemieux


  • Linnaeus

    If this is the “moderate” point of view in the Republican Party, then there are no moderates in the Republican Party.

    • DrDick

      Really haven’t been any significant number of them since Bush I.

  • The Republicans have no control over such matters. The “momentum of their ideology” compels them.

    Of course, this is a completely new definition of partisanship. If Obama passes legislation like the ACA that no Republicans support, he’s obviously being partisan and ramming his agenda through. If he proposes legislation that gets the support of some Republicans, he’s being partisan by trying to divide their party.

    • TT

      “Momentum of their ideology” is right up there with “reality-based community” in its sheer cynicism, and is one of many reasons that I will always consider Gerson a far more odious and dangerous shyster than Brooks. Bobo was a mere cheerleader for the Iraq War, but Gerson penned the innumerable lies Bush foisted on us throughout 2002-03, and doesn’t seem to have even the slightest regret about having done so.

      • Not just “momentum of their ideology.”

        Forced by the momentum of their ideology to take positions on spending that he can easily demagogue.”

        Forced, the poor babies.

        • somethingblue

          Well, you know, Republicans will be Republicans. Democrats are really in control of this whole situation, and if they would just stop taunting the poor Republicans with their provocative moderation …

          • Well, you know, Republicans will be Republicans. Democrats are really in control of this whole situation, and if they would just stop taunting the poor Republicans with their provocative moderation winning elections …


          • their provocative moderation

            “Look, can’t we meet somewhere in the middle?”

            “You know who ELSE used to talk about being in the middle?”


            • “You know who ELSE used to talk about being in the middle?”

              Gerry Rafferty?

        • I think it’s often instructive to look at what people assume to be unchangeable facts of life when they make their arguments. When, for example, libertarian types discuss gun control and start by assuming that all serious attempts to reduce the supply of guns are simply politically impossible, and therefore the grownup thing to do is to consider second-best solutions like training schoolkids to rush gunmen, it’s best to stop and think about why they’re making that assumption in the first place. Maybe the idea that effective gun control is politically impossible is what they’re really trying to achieve. And all the blather about everything else is just to cement that assumption in the public discourse.

          Likewise with “forced by the momentum of their ideology.” He’s just trying to get us to accept the Republican Party’s ideas as things about which they simply kannst nict anders. It’s obviously foolish sounding, but that’s largely because Gerson is a hack. Bobo tries a more polished version. I wonder if it’ll eventually catch on.

          • somethingblue

            When, for example, libertarian types anybody to the right of those green lantern kooks at FDL discuss gun control and start by assuming that all serious attempts to reduce the supply of guns are simply politically impossible …


            • This is sort of a silly thing to write, given the release of the White House report and their commitment to a big push in Congress.

  • Few things are more underhanded in politics than trying to advance your longstanding, very popular agenda — which you just won an election on — in a straightforward way which, as a side effect, exposes the opposition as radical, stupid, unprincipled, and championing a wildly unpopular counteragenda.

    I, for one, am grateful to Brooks for shining a light on this despicable behavior.

    • Ken

      “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you no sense of decency?”

  • Mister Harvest

    “The President is making us look bad by forcing us to argue for our actual positions.”

    That’s compelling.

  • DrDick

    make them look like wackos willing to endanger the entire global economy.

    A clear case where appearances are not at all deceiving. The Congressional whackaloon caucus would seem to be driving poor Bobo to distraction.

  • efgoldman

    Of course its Obama’s fault. If he weren’t’ a ni[clang], none of this would have happened.
    I don’t know who is worse, the TeaHadis themselves, or their enablers like Bobo.

    • DrDick

      Bobo and company are far worse, since they actually know better and can see the consequences.

  • sibusisodan

    So, in sum, personal responsibility is really, really important for all Americans – esp the poor, the sick and the old (arguments passim).

    But not so much for the Congressional Republican party, who are being tossed hither and yon at the whim of Obama the extremist moderate, and are in no way responsible for their actions.

    Got it.

    • Cody

      I’m pretty sure this has been the entire Republican philosophy decade. Except for one missing thing…

      You forgot personal responsibility doesn’t apply to the rich! Because, by being rich, they must be our superiors.

  • make them look like wackos willing to endanger the entire global economy.

    Wow, Obama must be some kind of genius!

    How does he do that?

    • Ken

      He says, “Please continue, Governor.”

      • spencer

        + harrumph.

  • ChrisTS

    @Joe from Lowell:


    • Smoke and mirrors.

      He waits until the smoke starts coming out of their ears, and then holds up a mirror.

      • Now that’s funny.

      • ChrisTS

        Smoke, schomke. My Prez don’t need no smoke – at least, not with this gang of clowns.

  • Haystack Calhoun

    The veil clouding Brooks’ vision is his deeply-rooted conviction that Democrats are an unworthy species. They somehow gain power through the nefarious trickery of promoting popular policies and appearing sensible, upsetting all that’s right and proper in Brooks’ pampered world.

    To Brooks, even a psychotic teabagger (and he’ll readily admit to the lunacy) has more political legitimacy than any Democrat, even an accommodationist venturing well on to the GOP side of the spectrum in the name of comity and bipartisan ship.

    This is why Brooks writes this way and this is why disaffected “moderate” Repubs try to start Third Way or No Labels movements instead of just joining the Democrats.

    • Haystack Calhoun

      I suppose there could be a bipartisan ship, but that should be bipartisanship.

      • Vance Maverick

        A No Labels fantasy cruise?

        • Hogan

          Is No Labels anything but a fantasy cruise?

      • chris

        If there was a bipartisan ship, would Brooks go down with it?

    • There is no veil clouding Brooks’s vision. He knows exactly what he is doing. He’s selling right-wing politicians and policies to people who would not buy them if they knew what they really were. He’s a propagandist. Everything he writes is deliberate and calculated.

  • Anonymous

    All true but what I love about this column is that instead of finding some anonymous Democrat to spout the nonsense in the 9th through 16th paragraphs with quotation marks to make it look like, you know quotations, he used the construct: “It’s more likely that today’s Democrats are going to tell themselves something like this:”

    Talk about strawmen.

    Remember, every Brooks column is bases on at least one main lie.

  • montag2

    Bobo is the Homer Simpson of public intellectuals.

  • Pseudonym

    So is the upshot that the poor Republican congress-critters are trapped between the momentum of their ideology and the liberally-biased facts on the ground? It appears there are no more conservative-leaning representatives in government these days. The reps are representing their ideology, not their constituency or nation.

    Try to decouple the issues. If the economy is bad as shown by U3/U6 numbers, we should do things to make it better, e.g. stimulus, temp payroll tax cuts, infrastructure building. Getting the economy back to relatively full productivity and employment is a huge challenge with huge payoff.

    The debt problem is a secondary issue; it comes into play only in the way it affects interest rates and the on-budget cost of paying interest payments to bondholders. More fiscal or monetary stimulus has the potential to cause debt problems eventually. But if we’re stuck in a debt hole then the deficit spending (assuming it was well-targeted) wasn’t the problem, and the debt hole itself isn’t the problem: the problem is people got no jobs, no food, no health care.

    The conservative line is for the government to stop spending so much money on T-bones and Cadillacs. Conservatives can’t come out and endorse a particular set of spending cuts, for the obvious reason that voters like those programs being cut by and large.

    Hence GOP negotiations appear to resemble elaborate kabuki theater around the superstructure towering over a core of no solid commitments to save specific programs or eliminate anything more politically connected than Big Bird.

    • Cody

      This is what the whole debt ceiling debacle is about – Republicans don’t want to cut programs. They want to make Obama cut them.

      They never have the will to propose any kind of cuts to SS or Medicare that show up in the press, except in private to Democrats in exchange for something. This way they can point the finger come election time.

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