"The conservative mansion has many rooms. In one chamber there are the resurgent Burkeans . . . In another chamber are the staunch Churchillians . . . But I wonder if amid all the din there might be a room, even just a utility closet, for those of us in yet another rightward sect, the neocon incrementalists."
-- David Brooks, "Onward Cautious Soldiers," The New York Times, July 23, 2006
So David Brooks wants to go into the closet with his fellow neocon incrementalists. And I thought The New York Times was a family newspaper!
There are many people out there who are baffled by the career of David Brooks, but I am not one of them. Any man willing to admit in print that he can get a boner surveying the "awesome resumes" of marrying Ivy Leaguers on the New York Times wedding page ("you can almost feel the force of mingling SAT scores," he coos in his book Bobos In Paradise) is always going to occupy an important spot in the American media landscape; the ruling class always needs its house bumlickers. And Brooks does the job well, although at times I think he's so craven that he does his masters a disservice. I mean, seriously -- a mansion of conservatism? Why not go all the way: The yacht of Republicanism has a great many berths . . .
Brooks is the perfect priest of American conservatism, and by conservatism I don't mean the bloodthirsty, gun-toting, go-back-to-Africa, welfare-bashing right-winger conservatism of the NRA and Sean Hannity and the Bible Belt. I mean the dickless, power-worshipping, good-consumer pragmatic conservatism of Times readers and those other Bobos in Paradise who have exquisitely developed taste in furniture, coffee and television programming but would rather leave the uglier questions of politics to more decisive people, so long as they aren't dangerous radicals like Michael Moore or Markos Zuniga.
That's why the marriage of David Brooks and the Democratic Leadership Council makes perfect sense. It's repugnant and the kind of thing one should shield young children from knowing about, but it makes perfect sense. Both prefer a policy of being "cautious soldiers," "incrementalists" who shun upheavals and vote the status quo, although they subscribe to this policy for different reasons. Brooks worships the status quo because he has no penis and wants to spend the rest of his life buying periwinkle bath towels without troubling interruptions of conscience. The DLC, a nonprofit created in the mid-1980s to help big business have a say in the Democratic Party platform, supports the status quo because they are paid agents of the commercial interests that define it.
Moreover, Brooks and the DLC have this in common: While they both frown on the open flag-waving and ostentatious religiosity of the talk-radio right-wing as being gauche and in bad form, they're only truly offended by people of their own background who happen to be idealistic.
Hence the recurring backlash by both against the various angry electoral challenges to the establishment of the Democratic Party -- including, most recently, the campaign of Ned Lamont, challenger to Joe Lieberman's Senate Seat in Connecticut.
Brooks's column of a few weeks ago on the subject of Lieberman/Lamont, titled "The Liberal Inquisition," was a masterpiece of yuppie paranoia. In an editorial line that would be repeated by other writers all across the country, Brooks blasted the "netroots" supporters of Lamont for being leftist extremists driven by "moral manias" and "mob psychology" to liquidate the "scarred old warhorse" Lieberman, whom he calls "transparently the most kind-hearted and well-intentioned of men." This is the archetypal suburban-conservative nightmare -- anonymous hordes of leftist boat-rockers viciously assaulting the champion of the decent people, who is just a really nice guy given to tending his lawn and minding his own business.