Revolt over: White House puts Brooks back on the leash

posted at 9:42 am on March 6, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Allahpundit noted with some amazement that even David Brooks had experienced a Road to Damascus moment this week, with the scales falling from his eyes and discovering that the man he’d backed in the election turned out to be a statist liberal.  Thankfully, St. Paul was made of sterner stuff, because he didn’t try to put the scales back on his eyes after just four phone calls from Rome.  The White House had four staffers call Brooks, and voila! Brooks is back in the fold:

On Tuesday, I wrote that the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous. The column generated a large positive response from moderate Obama supporters who are anxious about where the administration is headed. It was not so popular inside the White House. Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.

In the first place, they do not see themselves as a group of liberal crusaders. They see themselves as pragmatists who inherited a government and an economy that have been thrown out of whack. They’re not engaged in an ideological project to overturn the Reagan Revolution, a fight that was over long ago. They’re trying to restore balance: nurture an economy so that productivity gains are shared by the middle class and correct the irresponsible habits that developed during the Bush era.

The budget, they continue, isn’t some grand transformation of America. It raises taxes on energy and offsets them with tax cuts for the middle class. It raises taxes on the rich to a level slightly above where they were in the Clinton years and then uses the money as a down payment on health care reform. That’s what the budget does. It’s not the Russian Revolution.

We often complain about regular reporters injecting their opinions into what should be objective articles.  This is the reverse of that problem.  Brooks writes an opinion column, but the opinions are supposed to be his.  In this column, he basically turns his newsprint space over to Rahm Emanuel and his staff and merely takes dictation.  Had Brooks and the New York Times run this as an interview news piece, it might seem less obsequious than how it appears in Brooks’ column today.

How obsequious?  Brooks finishes with this paean to White House flacks:

Nonetheless, the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation.

Do they?  I guess they didn’t say, “We won” when talking with Brooks, but then again, they didn’t have to.  This sounds less like “friendly cooperation” and more like a push to get back on the Obama reservation.  The biggest laugh of the column?  Emphasis mine:

I didn’t finish these conversations feeling chastened exactly.

Does Brooks even think it’s their job to chasten him?  They’re supposed to work for us, David, not the other way around.  Remember that when you talk to them the next time.  It might keep those pesky scales from reattaching themselves to your corneas.


Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2 3

This is why we need to stop coddling moderates and the constant critic. We need men of principle and conviction. Not fence sitters.

Men with a spine please.

And Brooks reminds me of Sullivan, if you know what I mean.

Montana on March 6, 2009 at 12:32 PM

The budget, they continue, isn’t some grand transformation of America. *** It raises taxes on the rich to a level slightly above where they were in the Clinton years and then uses the money as a down payment on health care reform. That’s what the budget does. It’s not the Russian Revolution.

Health care is 15% of the economy. Obama’s plan calls for those tax increases to be used to nationalize that 15%. We’re nationalizing banks, auto makers, and insurers (a trend that, I admit, started under Bush). How is this not a more peaceful version of the Russian Revolution?

Outlander on March 6, 2009 at 12:42 PM

By the way, some folks over here seem to think that Glenn Greenwald is all-left-all-the-time.

Yet he also found reason to criticize this same David Brooks column. Not for left/right reasons, but because of his opposition to the routine practice of presidential administrations being given anonymity to dispense administration views to reporters:

http://www.salon.com/opinion/greenwald/2009/03/06/anonymity/index.html

He opposes this practice regardless of which party is in the White House. And I’m not aware that this is a left/right issue; it’s just a matter of journalistic principle.

orange on March 6, 2009 at 12:51 PM

It’s not the Russian Revolution.

Я думаю, вы протестовали слишком много.

Jim Treacher on March 6, 2009 at 12:54 PM

In this column, he basically turns his newsprint space over to Rahm Emanuel and his staff and merely takes dictation.

SNORT-worthy

Mr_Magoo on March 6, 2009 at 12:54 PM

It is indeed “sophisticated” to get spanked by the White House, then write a column describing it.

The Obama’s do not need a pet–they have a vast sea of lap dogs in the media. I’m sure some of them can be house trained.

varnson on March 6, 2009 at 12:57 PM

In this column, he basically turns his newsprint space over to Rahm Emanuel and his staff and merely takes dictation DICK-tation.
SNORT-worthy

Mr_Magoo on March 6, 2009 at 12:54 PM

FIFY

Mark Garnett on March 6, 2009 at 12:59 PM

One has to redefine ‘pragmatism’ in order to make what sock puppets administration says even remotely believable….and it still isn’t.

Joe six pack is going to regret the day he fell in for this class warfare thing.

Spiritk9 on March 6, 2009 at 1:04 PM

These people don’t even hide their bias anymore. It’s become institutionalized.

southsideironworks on March 6, 2009 at 1:37 PM

Mr. Brooks. Who are you going to beleive – The Truth, or your own lying eyes?

davod on March 6, 2009 at 1:56 PM

Brooks is a bigger *ussy then I ever imagined possible. What a spineless simp.

budfox on March 6, 2009 at 2:02 PM

The “irresponsible habits that developed during the Bush era” largely involve government, Federal Reserve involvement in the market by way of interest rate manipulation. I look at this administration and I can only imagine even more manipulation on an even broader scale. So, no, the follow up article by Brooks is not reassuring.

David Brooks’ previous article was right on and he need not apologize for it. Big Thumbs up for the tag line…”All things in moderation … including moderation.” That really does some this all up, and it’s crazy. Brooks should write as he sees fit without fears of phone calls from the government.

I posted in a previous thread that the first article was strategically threatening, because it was aimed at liberal leaning independents who read the NYT and I was right. That’s why the White House was so threatened by it. That’s why Brooks had to be addressed. Curse him all you wish, but Brooks is powerful and the White House knows it. I hope Brooks understands it too or this country’s economy is in even worse trouble. I really hope Brooks knows what he is doing.

tartan on March 6, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Hee hee hee, just can’t stop picturing Brooks on a leash…

kg598301 on March 6, 2009 at 2:34 PM

It sounds to me like he was coerced. Do you think his wife and children are being held captive?

SGinNC on March 6, 2009 at 3:30 PM

Wondering if Brooks and Rahm had time for a “bikini wax” after the serious business was complete… Nothing says “Best Friends” like holding hands and cooing at each other during…

sabbott on March 6, 2009 at 4:47 PM

In the first place, they do not see themselves as a group of liberal crusaders. They see themselves as pragmatists who inherited a government and an economy that have been thrown out of whack.

And he believed every word. :D We use the term “useful idiots”, but to whom are idiots like Brooks and Frum even remotely useful (from a professional standpoint)?

ddrintn on March 6, 2009 at 4:49 PM

Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.

Was this statement particularly peculiar to anybody else? Interest of fairness – seems like a tongue in cheek, or silent plea about being coerced to give the WH POV. Trying to determine if I should feel sorry for this guy or just laugh at him.

ammon_of_cs on March 6, 2009 at 4:50 PM

I believe that David Brooks is giving the stock market some really stiff competetion in the “how low can you go” category.

Does this tool even realize that he conclusively proves that he is nothing less than a tool ? even to his newly gathered liberal admirers ?

Since when did ANY COLUMNIST take dictation from the White House and dutifully spew it out on his next op-ed ? Does the NYT see any problem with this ?

There is a reason why the MSM will pretty soon go out of business. It has become a joke and a lackey of Dimmicratic power.

David Brooks – you ARE A JOKE

nagee76 on March 6, 2009 at 4:56 PM

Trying to determine if I should feel sorry for this guy or just laugh at him.

ammon_of_cs on March 6, 2009 at 4:50 PM

Laugh at him. I honestly don’t think Brooks was threatened with the thumbscrews or hot irons. All it takes to turn milquetoasts like this is the threat of being on the outs with the lib media.

ddrintn on March 6, 2009 at 4:58 PM

Nonetheless, the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based.

Has the White House elaborated on any plans since Obama was campaigning? The SOTU was low on specifics, and the market tanked the next day. Just like it did every time Obama spoke. Even if he wants to whine about inheriting a mess, Obama was elected to fix it, even by restoring confidence. He has not.

Furthermore, there were no facts in the conversation Brooks related. Excuses and propaganda aplenty, but not one fact. I am literally terrified now that Obama would even deny this isn’t the Russian Revolution. If it isn’t, it’s only because no one’s been beheaded yet.

chunderroad on March 6, 2009 at 5:10 PM

I hate his little digs Obama makes. Sarcasm is inappropriate from a President, especially when his thug phones in a column for a bad journalist.

chunderroad on March 6, 2009 at 5:13 PM

In the first place, they do not see themselves as a group of liberal crusaders. They see themselves as pragmatists who inherited a government and an economy that have been thrown out of whack.

Well…..duh. No bigot sees themselves as a bigot, no extremist sees himself as extreme and no liberal crusader sees himself as a crusader. They’re all just doing what needs to be done.

29Victor on March 6, 2009 at 5:16 PM

Brooks was a better writer and had snappier thought processes before he went to the Times. He was younger and unafraid then. But his prestige is tied up in working for the paper since no one would pay any attention to him if he worked elsewhere. The Times needs the White House to provide inside dope. Hence the reeducation retraction. Brooks knows he wrote the truth the first time. Now he is forever stained. Like George Romney,he was “brainwashed.”

mytralman on March 6, 2009 at 7:49 PM

He seems to have forgotten that – as a journalist – it is his job to chasten them.

Sheesh. What a worthless waste of valuable column space.

JDPerren on March 6, 2009 at 11:20 PM

This Brook[s] is making a lot of noise but doesn’t run deep.

I guess I was wrong. I thought he had substance.

miron on March 7, 2009 at 12:00 AM

Even though I’m not as outraged by Obama as the general Hot Air audience, I have to say that this piece by David Brooks made me laugh a bit as well.

Yes, it totally sounds like he was strongarmed and caved in. I don’t know why he can’t see that and why he can’t even imagine how it would look to most people, but there you have it.

In Brooks’ defense, however, I also have to say that there are certain reporters who depend on easy White House access. Without them, we actually wouldn’t know half of what we do know about things. We may not like it, but there is a certain chattering class which does do a job that basically no one else can: interview or discuss things with Presidents. It is entirely based on a class system, but that’s part of the way the world works.

David Brooks is part of that elite. It’s actually part of his job to keep that access. If he doesn’t, he doesn’t really have a raison d’etre.

Now, I know that his columns about Obama since the last year have been, how shall I put it? Ah yes, Tony Blankley mentioned something about needing to put on gloves before reading them. Even so, it’s good to have some (granted extremely liberal) moderate Republicans with Presidential access at times. We may not realize it directly, but it is.

Remember that David Brooks also came out many times in support for President Bush and the war in Iraq. He tried to explain it in very simple terms and reasonable ones. He also had many conversations with President Bush on a personal level.

You sorta have to take the good with the bad on this one, I’m afraid. I don’t really like it either, it absolutely was a moment of Obama’s team slapping him back into place, but again…it’s the way that particular system works.

And, let’s be honest, David Brooks isn’t under the illusion that the base of the GOP respects him on any level. That’s not the audience he’s trying to impress. I’m pretty sure he knows that most Republican and Conservative voters don’t really agree with him on much. That never was his stance, and I’m pretty sure he understands that quite well. =)

Summer on March 7, 2009 at 1:42 AM

I guess he feels the knife touching his back, realizes that newspapers are NOT hiring and is trying to get back with the Obama Junta.

or

There is a blatant tone that tells you that he has a knife at his back. Only a fool could not see it and fools don’t read his column. A cry for help?

GunRunner on March 7, 2009 at 2:22 AM

Hey, Brooksie, do you remember the old aphorism, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” I guess the Obamanoids have fooled you (at least) twice, now.

Shame on you.

{^_^}

herself on March 7, 2009 at 3:23 AM

Nice work, Ed.
You can’t make stuff like this up. Brooks is a piece of work indeed.

RobCon on March 7, 2009 at 7:28 AM

When you see a “conservative” like Brooks working for the NY Times or Joe Scarbough working for MSNBC be very suspicious. These left-wing organs hired them for a reason and it is NOT for balance. I work in NY media, I know.

RobCon on March 7, 2009 at 7:31 AM

Allahpundit noted with some amazement that even David Brooks had experienced a Road to Damascus moment this week, with the scales falling from his eyes and discovering that the man he’d backed in the election turned out to be a statist liberal.

As I said before.

AP got it wrong.

Brooks’ Road to Damascus moment was a journey of self-discovery.

Brooks had a relapse the other day and saw his face in the mirror without his “mask-of-moderate-self-delusion” on, and was shocked that, he himself, is a statist liberal.

The column that he wrote the other day was simply a denial to himself, and a feeble attempt to separate himself from it.

This latest column is his “coming out” party (in his mind, anyway). Now, he’s choosing his future…he owns it, so he might as well be it.

Brooks, you seem to be the last one to realize that self-deception is your most prominent trait. The rest of us have to grudgingly witness the ease at which the present administration uses your sycophantic, useful idiocy.

Saltysam on March 7, 2009 at 9:17 AM

Thanks David for proving our point on moderates. A simple tongue lashing and you’re back in line. You are a perfect example of how weak our nation is becoming.

kongzilla on March 7, 2009 at 6:19 PM

It’s not the Russian Revolution.
Я думаю, вы протестовали слишком много.

Jim Treacher on March 6, 2009 at 12:54 PM

Jim, I hope you didn’t get that spelling from the State Department….

Red State State of Mind on March 7, 2009 at 8:24 PM

Comment pages: 1 2 3