Anyone who knows the right-wing pundits knows David Brooks is the King of Smarm. He sniffs and pontificates from his perch as the Principled Conservative for the New York Times‘s op-ed page, pretending to be one of the “good conservatives” who loftily disapproves (more or less) of racism, immigrant-bashing and the like. He doesn’t much like Trump, though he has not “officially” joined the ranks of the “Never Trumpers.”
Brooks wants Trump gone. Goody! But don’t start cheering Brooks yet. He has a vision for the GOP post-Trump, and it doesn’t exactly scream “reform.” He writes:
My guess is that if Trump gets crushed in the election, millions of Republicans will decide they never liked that loser and jerk anyway. He’ll get relegated to whatever bargain basement they are using to hold Sarah Palin. But something will remain: Trumpism. The basic Trump worldview — on immigration, trade, foreign policy, etc. — will shape the GOP for decades, the way the basic Reagan worldview did for decades. A thousand smarter conservatives will be building a new party after 2020, but one that builds from the framework Trump established.
Seriously?!? Brooks thinks this is a good thing? Let’s keep reading, because so far I am appalled. Trump’s approach to immigration is building insanely expensive walls that won’t work, and separating families by sending the parents back to Latin America while keeping their kids in cages. Trump’s economic policies, whatever the fuck they are, resulted in massive tax cuts for plutocrats and the worst economic drop in US history. He thinks every American who isn’t solidly behind him is a “violent anarchist,” and has sent — and is still sending — unidentified, militarized federal officers to Democratically-run cities to terrorize and abuse the population. As for foreign policy, he has alienated our allies, shit all over NATO, and coddled Russia and other authoritarian, dictator-run nations. He even condones Vladimir Putin putting bounties on the heads of American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Whatcha got to say about that, Brooksie?
I think Trumpism will survive Trump because the history of the modern Republican Party is the history of paradigm shifts.
“Paradigm shift” my ass. A couple of weeks ago, I inadvertently proved Brooks a liar when I wrote that the GOP has steadily moved further and further right, and further towards an open embrace of crazy racism, demagoguery and authoritarianism, for over 70 years.
Trump is not something horribly new and cancerously different. He is the product of a single, tidal movement among the GOP that started before I was born — and statistically speaking, I’m probably older than most of the people reading this.
Brooks opens, as they all do, by singing the praises of Reagan and “Reaganism.” He ignores the systematic racism, the illegal union-busting, and the catastrophic economic failures (for all but the plutocrats) of the Reagan policies. Worse, he blathers about Reagan and the GOP “cultivating people with the vigorous virtues — people who are energetic, upright, entrepreneurial, independent-minded, loyal to friends and strong against foes.”
Did he live through the same eight years of bubbly racism and economic savagery that we did?
In hindsight, Brooks finds a few things about “the Reagan paradigm” that make his forehead crinkle. Republicans were just that little bit too interested in being anti-government — too busy trying to shrink government to the size where it can be ultimately drowned in the bathtub.
That went just a tad too far, Brooks observes from his perch in the clouds. Brooks, of course, lauds his own status as a Conservative Visionary, noting that he and William Kristol — now an actual Never Trumper as opposed to Brooks’s disapproving sniffs in the general direction of Trump Tower — wrote an article in 1997 called “National Greatness Conservatism.” (Anyone think Brooks is trying to propose a new, fancy brand name for the same rancid conservatism we all know and detest?) He says John McCain’s 2000 presidential campaign was based on this “vision,” but it was defeated by George W. Bush’s ugly “Compassionate Conservatism,” which lacked all compassion and was nowhere near close to classical conservatism.
Instead, he writes, the GOP by and large:
stuck, mostly through dumb inertia, to an anti-government zombie Reaganism decades after Reagan was dead and even though the nation’s problems were utterly different from what they were when he was alive. Year after year, GOP politicians clung to a dead paradigm, ran the same anti-Washington campaigns and had no positive governing philosophy once they got there.
Yes, David. Yes, they did. And by and large, you cheered it on. Brooks finally comes back to the present day by fixing the blame for the hate-fueled fascism of the Trump era squarely on the back of Steve Bannon:
Steve Bannon’s leap finally did what none of us could do. Donald Trump and Bannon took a low-rent strand of conservatism — class-based ethnic nationalism — that had always been locked away in the basement of the American right, and overturned the Reagan paradigm.
He’s not wrong as far as he goes. Bannon did appeal to the most base and bigoted instincts of the Republican constituency. But, dear David, so did thousands of elected federal, state and local GOP lawmakers. So did Fox News, Breitbart, Newsmax, OANN, and the other members of the right-wing media scream machine. Brooks writes that Republican voters are scared of “being purged from their own country — by the educated elite, by multiculturalism, by militant secularism.”
At this point I just want to punch Brooks in his mouth. Maybe get a little blood on his ascot. Yeah, they’re scared. It’s called white fragility. The two wealthy fascists in St. Louis who drew guns on peaceful protesters — black protesters — who dared show their second-class faces in Their Community. Their claims that the protesters were going to burn them out of their homes and so forth were lies. They threatened to kill the protesters simply for daring to intrude on their home lives. How dare they? (And what would Brooks and the rest of the GOP “snoterati” have thought if any of those black protesters had drawn their own guns on them in self-defense?) They’re scared that they’re going to lose their perch as the dominant ethnic class in American society, and they will shoot you, me, and every black person they see to keep that position. That doesn’t faze Brooks in the slightest. He might not join in the shooting, but he well might point out some targets.
(Those two St. Louis assholes make a perfect picture of the GOP, by the way, before and after Trump. That’s why I chose them to illustrate this piece.)
Brooks complains that because, and only because, of Trump and Bannon — whom, he notes, Trump discarded Bannon and his populism for Jared Kushner and a gaggle of incompetent sycophants — we ended up somewhere else:
We got bigotry, incompetence and tax cuts for the wealthy.
Brooks, you fucking idiot. Let’s go back to Reagan, and George W. Bush, and the flood of bigoted nincompoops who flooded the halls of Congress, the various state legislatures, and the local city councils, county commissions, and school boards. It’s what your party IS, David. It’s what you DO. You’ve done it for over half a century.
Brooks isn’t stupid or unobservant. He knows full well the history of his party. And by and large, he likes it. He just wishes those loudmouths with their “TRUMP 2020 FUCK YOUR FEELINGS” shirts and signs advocating lynching blacks, Latinos and journalists would kinda step back and be less prominent in the discussion. We don’t want you to go away, Brooks thinks, and we certainly don’t want you to stop voting for Republicans. Just…can you be a little less shouty?
You’ve hung on a long time with me taking a virtual pinata stick to Brooks. Thanks for hanging in there. Now, here’s the payoff. Here’s where Brooks draws a line in the sand and establishes himself as a True Visionary of the New, Post-Trump GOP.
The caps above are indicative of Major Sarcasm, of source.
Brooks says the GOP will run far and fast from Trump after he is crushed in 2020. But they will grow and evolve the party into a New and Different Direction (more sarcasm), which will be led by, among others, four youngish GOP senators: Marco Rubio, Josh Hawley, Ben Sasse, and Tom Cotton.
Really. That’s Brooks’s new starting lineup.
Brooks notes that none of the Fab Four have had the guts, or the inclination, to challenge Trump on, well, anything. They voted in lockstep with the rest of the Senate GOP to acquit Trump of the high crimes and misdemeanors they acknowledged he committed. And, of course, they will continue to nuzzle Trump”s ass in the coming months. They are gutless Republicans, of course. But, if you believe Brooks, somehow they are the next crop of GOP saviors — this decade’s version of the GOP “Young Guns,” if you remember them. (Yeah, they are forgettable. The GOP is still using the labeling for its new generation of bigoted imbeciles, but the media has long ago stopped salivating on cue when some Republican press flack uttered the phrase.)
Brooks starts by saying the Fab Four all share the following “Trumpian” premises:
Everything is not OK. The free market is not working well. Wages are stagnant. Too much power is in the hands of the corporate elites. Middle America is getting screwed. Finance capitalism is unbalanced. American society is in abject decline. If Reaganism was “Let’s be free,” the new mood is “Take control.”
Brooks, you idiot. When the fuck did Trump actually address ANY of this? Or the GOP? Their answer — YOUR answer — to everything is to privatize it. The free market is magic! It fixes everything! Kill Obamacare, the free market will fix it! Stop government payouts to people who are losing their jobs and their homes due to the pandemic! We don’t have to do shit, the free market will take care of them! When the Congressional GOP shoved through their economy-killing tax cuts for the plutocrats, none of the Fab Four said a word in opposition. They loved it. You loved it. And now you and your gang of assclowns are gonna be the ones to fix everything Trump and the GOP broke? I don’t see Cotton and the other gang of bigots and morons Brooks envisions as the 2020 “Young Guns” doing a damn thing And if Brooks sincerely believes any of this, he is as demented as Trump.
Who are these four fuckers, anyway?
Josh Hawley is a pro-Confederate bigot from Missouri. No help there.
Ben Sasse is an idiot from Nebraska who is poised to become the Senate GOP’s new Susan Collins — lots of furrowed brows and expressions of concern before he runs to the Senate floor to cast the votes Mitch McConnell tells him to cast. Of course, Mr. “I’m an independent who caucuses with the Republicans” voted twice to acquit Trump in the impeachment vote. As Dick Polman of WHYY wrote:
[Sasse] has been furrowing his brow about Trump ever since the 2016 campaign, tut-tutting in high-minded language about how the paranoid narcissist is a clear and present danger. But rarely in modern times has such eloquent rhetoric been twinned with such hapless inertia. He talks like a sane person — about how Trump is “trying to weaponize distrust” of the free press; about how Trump “negotiated from a position of weakness” with Vladimir Putin and about how Helsinki was “a disaster;” about how Trump’s tweets are “beneath the dignity of the office” — but whenever the chips are down, he enables the insanity by doing nothing.
Marco Rubio — just give me a fucking break. He was a loud and sometimes vitriolic opponent of Trump during the 2016 primary, but after Trump’s victor, Rubio ran to lick Trump’s boots. Since then, he’s been a pale imitation of Sasse: furrowed brows, occasional expressions of concern, and then lockstep support for anything and everything Trump wants.
And that brings us to Tom Cotton. Fuck Tom Cotton. Fuck him sideways. He’s a belligerent, pencil-necked idiot who has been a vociferous supporter of Trump almost from the jump. Recently he came out in total support for Trump’s use of militarized federal forces against innocent civilians, and suggested Trump should deploy actual military units such as the 101st Airborne in Portland or Chicago or anywhere those damn Democrats allowed their citizens to have free and peaceful protests.
Brooks excuses all of this. Hawley is merely a “populist” (how many times have we seen Trump’s naked racism and misogyny GOPsplained away as “populism”?). Rubio is grounded in Catholic social teaching (no, he isn’t, otherwise he’d actually do more than pay lip service to things like “common-good capitalism”). Cotton is a John Bolton-school neoconservative who wants to bomb the world into freedom — freedom as defined by Cotton and his brownshirts, of course, but Brooks doesn’t seem to mind that idea. Sasse, Brooks writes, is a “Tocquevillian localist” (a what?) who likes high school football and church suppers. Goody for him, but he is nothing more than another GOP lickspittle. Sasse says the government needs to “create a framework of ordered liberty” so people can focus on their families and neighborhoods. Wish Alexis de Tocqueville were alive to explain Sasse’s bullshit.
And which media figure is going to lead the way to this new post-Trump vision of a flaming garbage dump on a hill? Why, Tucker Carlson, Brooks says. I don’t need to say anything more.
Brooks is a shitheel in a thousand-dollar suit who thinks these four bootlickers, and a coterie of think-tank academics and billionaire supporters, are going to take the GOP in a new, post-Trumpian direction without actually changing a goddamn thing the GOP does. And he thinks we’re stupid enough to fall for it. Again. He writes:
The Republican Party looks completely brain-dead at every spot Trump directly reaches. Off in the corners, though, there’s a lot of intellectual ferment on the right.
No, there isn’t. It’s just more of the same thinking, with an extra layer of “How the fuck do we keep implementing ‘free-market fascism’ and funneling trillions of taxpayer dollars to our wealthy patrons now that Trump has shit the bed for all of us?”
Brooks is selling us another dumpster fire — actually, the same old dumpster fire — with a new, high-falutin’ brand, backed by four GOP bootlickers who are young, white, male, and photogenic.
We see you, Brooks. We see what you’re doing. Screw you, pally.
(Thanks to Xaxnar at the Daily Kos for bringing this article to my attention.)