Shorter Verbatim Bobo: “At this stage it’s probably not sensible to get too worked up about the details of any candidate’s plans. They are all wildly unaffordable. What matters is how a candidate signals priorities. Rubio talks specifically about targeting policies to boost middle- and lower-middle-class living standards.”
As Chait observes, Rubio is running the George W. Bush playbook — massive debt-funded upper-class tax cuts, masked with a few target benefits for the less affluent and a lot of meaningless rhetoric about helping the middle class — with even more upward wealth distribution. We all know what priorities would stick during the Republican sausage-making process. This policy agenda would, in itself, be massively unpopular, but you can count on a lot of “Both Sides Do Fuzzy Math” reporting to help candidates sell the compassionate conservative con. When it comes to conservative pundits who consider themselves moderates, like Brooks, a little rhetoric can easily get them to overlook the actual substantive details of proposed upper-class tax cuts. Is Brooks lying to himself, or to his readers? Probably both, although it doesn’t really matter.
Earlier this week, Brooks was hoping for a “sensible Trump.” But he’ll end up projecting “sensible moderate” onto whoever the Republican nominee is anyway.