Tuesday, September 30, 2003

David Brooks today in the NYT:

Have you noticed that we've moved from the age of the culture wars to the age of the presidency wars? Have you noticed that the furious arguments we used to have about cultural and social issues have been displaced by furious arguments about the current occupant of the Oval Office?

No, David, I haven't noticed that at all. Have you noticed the recent furor over the ten commandments monument in Alabama? How about the Republican in California who's splitting the vote in the gubernatorial recall, by pulling away voters who oppose abortion and civil rights for homosexuals? Or, on a national level, the continued attempts to restrict abortion in Congress? Dubya's cutoff of funds to any NGO which supports abortion under any circumstances abroad? The "faith-based" social program initiatives? The whole Trent Lott affair? Any of that?

Of course, he's complaining about "screeds against the president and his supporters":

The quintessential new warrior scans the Web for confirmation of the president's villainy. He avoids facts that might complicate his hatred. He doesn't weigh the sins of his friends against the sins of his enemies. But about the president he will believe anything. He believes Ted Kennedy when he says the Iraq war was a fraud cooked up in Texas to benefit the Republicans politically. It feels so delicious to believe it, and even if somewhere in his mind he knows it doesn't quite square with the evidence, it's important to believe it because the other side is vicious, so he must be too.

Yup, I don't see "If Clinton had done this..." much on liberal blogs anymore, if only because Dubya has gone so far beyond anything Clinton might have been allowed to do that there's no longer much point. But Brooks doesn't deign to address anyone's specific complaints against Dubya -- instead, he just names a few of Dubya's critics, and then equates them to the conservative wolfpack that spent a year baying at Monica because, hey, they're both criticizing the guy in the White House. Gosh, asserting ex cathedra that your opponents have no case is so much easier than answering them.

So, have you noticed that David Brooks's columns in the New York Times are all too often a swirling mass of ex cathedra assertions, supported by no concrete evidence? Have you noticed how hard it can be to find any trace of a cogent argument?

Ummm... to be more precise: Brooks actually does cite one anti-Dubya argument, though only one, and in fact in the bit I quoted: "Ted Kennedy ... says the Iraq war was a fraud cooked up in Texas to benefit the Republicans politically". But then he doesn't address any of the reasons one might advance for believing such a thing -- like the numerous flat assertions of fact concerning, particularly, WMDs from Dubya's crowd before the war which have failed to pan out. He just pulls out a sound bite to sneer at it. As I said, asserting that your opponents have no case is so much easier than answering them...


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