At least, that’s the allusion Brooks makes to conclude his latest screed against “grass-roots protesters in the Tea Party and elsewhere”:
First they went after the Rockefeller Republicans, but I was not a Rockefeller Republican. Then they went after the compassionate conservatives, but I was not a compassionate conservative. Then they went after the mainstream conservatives, and there was no one left to speak for me.
Indeed, the lesser claims in the column are equally suspect, if less offensive in tone:
All across the nation, there are mainstream Republicans lamenting how the party has grown more and more insular, more and more rigid. This year, they have an excellent chance to defeat President Obama, yet the wingers have trashed the party’s reputation by swinging from one embarrassing and unelectable option to the next: Bachmann, Trump, Cain, Perry, Gingrich, Santorum.
Outside the echo chamber between the ears of David Brooks, Americans see the ideology of the GOP candidates — including Bachmann and Santorum — as closer to theirs than Barack Obama’s ideology. Even among so-called independents, only Bachmann scored as more extreme than Obama, who holds the record for the most polarizing first, second and third years in office since Gallup started measuring polarization. A majority of Americans (and independents) say Barack Obama’s political views are “too liberal,” a greater percentage than believe either of his main Republican challengers — Rick Santorum (38%) or Mitt Romney (33%) — is “too conservative.” The share of Republicans who see Romney or Santorum as too conservative is significantly smaller. A majority of Americans (and independents) disagree with Obama on the issues most important to them, while only a plurality disagrees with either Romney or Santorum (the overwhelming majority of Republicans agree with either GOP candidate). Currently, the (essentially meaningless) head-to-head polls have Obama ahead of Romney (who Brooks seems to find electable) by 5%, and ahead of Santorum (embarrassing and unelectable) by… 5.9%. In short, most people see little difference between Romney and Santorum and see either as less extreme than Obama.
However, for Brooks, the problem is more than ideological:
In the 1960s and ’70s, the fight was between conservatives and moderates. Conservatives trounced the moderates and have driven them from the party. These days the fight is between the protesters and the professionals. The grass-roots protesters in the Tea Party and elsewhere have certain policy ideas, but they are not that different from the Republicans in the “establishment.”
The big difference is that the protesters don’t believe in governance. They have zero tolerance for the compromises needed to get legislation passed. They don’t believe in trimming and coalition building. For them, politics is more about earning respect and making a statement than it is about enacting legislation. It’s grievance politics, identity politics.
As an antidote to this hysterical overgeneralization, I’ll turn over the rebuttal to rabid wingnutter Peggy Noonan:
For conservatives on the ground, it has often felt as if Democrats (and moderate Republicans) were always saying, “We should spend a trillion dollars,” and the Republican Party would respond, “No, too costly. How about $700 billion?” Conservatives on the ground are thinking, “How about nothing? How about we don’t spend more money but finally start cutting.”
The second thing is the clock. Here is a great virtue of the tea party: They know what time it is. It’s getting late. If we don’t get the size and cost of government in line now, we won’t be able to. We’re teetering on the brink of some vast, dark new world—states and cities on the brink of bankruptcy, the federal government too. The issue isn’t “big spending” anymore. It’s ruinous spending that they fear will end America as we know it, as they promised it to their children.
Brooks is willing to write about “the nation’s ruinous debt problem,” but when Obama demanded his way or the highway during the debt ceiling fight, Brooks chose to blame “the movement” instead, falsely claiming that Republicans were “merely” being asked to close loopholes and eliminate tax expenditures. In reality, Obama’s proposals have received almost zero Congressional support, including from his own party. In developed countries, successful fiscal consolidations have relied overwhelmingly on spending cuts, while the so-called “balanced” approach has failed. Indeed, the International Monetary Fund would suggest spending cuts and tax cuts as a “Plan B” for overextended countries. In Brooksworld, those who believe in smaller government and solutions that have worked elsewhere are unrealistic, totalitarian troglodytes, while the dude who supports the most statist president in generations is the martyred mainstream conservative. That’s some double-plus good punditizing. David Brooks, clinging bitterly to Barack Obama’s creased trouser leg and his Reinhold Niebuhr, is not voice of mainstream conservatism. He is the poster boy for Big Media’s Biggest Failure, howling on behalf of the so-called professionals in total denial of their role in America’s current and future miseries.