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.