April 8, 2012

One year into Obama's presidency, David Brooks wrote "he has come to seem like the sovereign on the cover of 'Leviathan'..."

"... the brain of the nation to which all the cells in the body and the nervous system must report and defer."

Brooks is talking about the bookcover that illustrates the previous post ("Romney, the man who says 'marvelous'"). He writes that "the illustration shows the British nation as a large man. The people make up the muscles and flesh. Then at the top, there is the king, who is the head and the mind."

Does Brooks marvel at Obama visualized as a large man and  we us the People as the muscles and flesh that constitute his body? Did Brooks abase himself and slobber that much?

In many ways, Barack Obama has lived up to his promise. He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate. When Obama makes a decision, you can be sure that he has heard and accounted for every opposing argument. If he senses an important viewpoint is not represented at a meeting, he will stop the proceedings and demand that it gets included.
Oh, brother.
If the evidence leads him in directions he finds uncomfortable, he will still follow the evidence. He is beholden to no ideological camp, and there is no group in his political base that he has not angered at some point in his first year.

But his has become a voracious pragmatism. Driven by circumstances and self-confidence, the president has made himself the star performer in the national drama. He has been ubiquitous, appearing everywhere, trying to overhaul most sectors of national life: finance, health, energy, automobiles and transportation, housing, and education, among others.

He is no ideologue, but over the past year he has come to seem like the sovereign on the cover of “Leviathan” — the brain of the nation to which all the cells in the body and the nervous system must report and defer.
Oh, my lord. Defer! Defer has been a big word these past 2 weeks, as the Obama administration demanded deference from the judiciary.
The country is now split on Obama, because he is temperate, thoughtful and pragmatic, but his policies are almost all unpopular....

Many Democrats, as always, are caught in their insular liberal information loop. They think the polls are bad simply because the economy is bad. They tell each other health care is unpopular because the people aren’t sophisticated enough to understand it. Some believe they can still pass health care even if their candidate, Martha Coakley, loses the Senate race in Massachusetts on Tuesday.

That, of course, would be political suicide. It would be the act of a party so arrogant, elitist and contemptuous of popular wisdom that it would not deserve to govern. Marie Antoinette would applaud, but voters would rage.
Oh, really? How's that rage going these days? Rage or deference? What are you seeing?
If I were President Obama, I would spend the next year showing how government can serve a humble, helpful and supportive role to the central institutions of American life. Even in blue states like Massachusetts, voters want a government that is energetic but limited — a servant, not a leviathan.
But as brooks are not oceans, Brooks is not Obama. And Obama did not take that advice. "Political suicide" was committed. Is it noticeable? The health care bill was passed, even after Ms. Coakley lost. And now, the people — who made it perfectly clear at the time and continue to make it clear that they did not like Obama's policies — look to the Court to save them from the Leviathan, and the Leviathan says defer.

52 comments:

Kevin said...

"Did Brooks abase himself and slobber that much?"

Doesn't he always?

wyo sis said...

Oh brother indeed!
This has to be a parody!

The worse Obama gets the more inflated the rhetoric surrounding him gets.

ricpic said...

What part of the nation does Obama's constituency represent, it's lard ass?

rhhardin said...

Brooks would fit right in over at National Review.

Kevin said...

But for sheer abasement, I don't think that it is possible to top this Brooksism:

"Jan. 20, 2009, will be a historic day. Barack Obama (Columbia, Harvard Law) will take the oath of office as his wife, Michelle (Princeton, Harvard Law), looks on proudly. Nearby, his foreign policy advisers will stand beaming, including perhaps Hillary Clinton (Wellesley, Yale Law), Jim Steinberg (Harvard, Yale Law) and Susan Rice (Stanford, Oxford D. Phil.).

The domestic policy team will be there, too, including Jason Furman (Harvard, Harvard Ph.D.), Austan Goolsbee (Yale, M.I.T. Ph.D.), Blair Levin (Yale, Yale Law), Peter Orszag (Princeton, London School of Economics Ph.D.) and, of course, the White House Counsel Greg Craig (Harvard, Yale Law).

This truly will be an administration that looks like America, or at least that slice of America that got double 800s on their SATs. Even more than past administrations, this will be a valedictocracy — rule by those who graduate first in their high school classes. If a foreign enemy attacks the United States during the Harvard-Yale game any time over the next four years, we’re screwed.

Already the culture of the Obama administration is coming into focus. Its members are twice as smart as the poor reporters who have to cover them, three times if you include the columnists. They typically served in the Clinton administration and then, like Cincinnatus, retreated to the comforts of private life — that is, if Cincinnatus had worked at Goldman Sachs, Williams & Connolly or the Brookings Institution. So many of them send their kids to Georgetown Day School, the posh leftish private school in D.C., that they’ll be able to hold White House staff meetings in the carpool line."

That's turned out well, hasn't it?

Quayle said...

How is it that we still even read these prognosticators when we have their past columns to show us how wrong, wrong, wrong they usually were and therefore likely are?

edutcher said...

If one can fellate another anally (and I don't doubt some do), that's what Brooks is doing.

PS All those degrees really didn't add up to much. They were supposed to to the Best and the Brightest, but quickly became shown to be the Least and the Dullest.

chickenlittle said...

Titanic was a a leviathan as well.

________
wv's: nderable, ifient

chickenlittle said...

A stutter when I write.

bgates said...

I feel bad about myself that I haven't conned David Brooks out of a very large sum of money. It seems like it would be easy to do, he deserves to have it done, and I'd like to have a very large sum of money.

AJ Lynch said...

Pragmatic? Looks like Brooks drank the same Koolaid as Althouse. Though I doubt they have anything else in common.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

The article says nothing about Obama, but volumes about Brooks. I had written him off years ago, but the extent of Brooks's deference is breathtaking.


In many ways, Barack Obama has lived up to his promise.

But his has become a voracious pragmatism.

He is no ideologue...


This is just embarrassing.

Quayle said...

As much as I wish the future of our economy look brighter, there is one useful thing that happens in hard economic times.

The unproductive parts of the economy wither and die on the vine.

Goodbye humanities departments.

Goodbye upper-west-side.

Goodbye Brooks.

You were all mere luxuries of a marvelously rich society.

somefeller said...

Actually, Quayle, all the things you mention are doing pretty good during these tough economic times and I suspect all of them are examples of elements of our society that are more productive and successful than you. But your petty resentments are duly noted. Remember, comrade, there's no war but the class war!

somefeller said...

So Obama didn't listen to Brooks and got Obamacare passed. Whether or not that will be political suicide for Obama will be decided this November, but if the Supreme Court doesn't declare key parts of it to be unconstitutional and it otherwise largely survives the next presidential term, then Obama's gamble will have paid off for him. High risk, high reward.

Quayle said...

But your petty resentments are duly noted. Remember, comrade, there's no war but the class war!

Thanks, comrade, for posting your shot-in-the-dark thoughts to be carried on the global network I helped build when I was an engineer working in in Kansas City (see if you're astute enough to guess why KC) Paris, Frankfurt, Bonn, and Denver (ooo, Denver will give you lots of choices - can you even name two of them?)

leslyn said...

What's that got to do with the price of potatoes today? Retrospective. Not original.

AprilApple said...

"He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate."

Honest debate?
On what planet? oh brother and slobber much indeed.
Obama's court jesters spin marvelous bad faith fairy tales.

somefeller said...

Wow, you've had jobs that had something to do with the internet? And in Kansas City and Bonn, no less? That's amazing. I bet David Brooks, those paupers on the Upper West Side or anyone with a humanities degree would be red-faced when they heard your stories of awesomeness!

edutcher said...

somefeller said...

Actually, Quayle, all the things you mention are doing pretty good during these tough economic times and I suspect all of them are examples of elements of our society that are more productive and successful than you. But your petty resentments are duly noted. Remember, comrade, there's no war but the class war!

Some phony folksy's letting his shiloh mask slip again.

And, apparently, he hasn't heard of the higher education bubble.

Or the fact that, as Walter Russell Mead notes, even Andy Cuomo has been, "driven by dire fiscal situations to attack the blue model" as money flees the Empire State and Gotham.

So Obama didn't listen to Brooks and got Obamacare passed.

Actually, he did nothing of the kind. In typical fashion, he left it for Reid and Pelosi to write and pass it.

All he did was sign it.

somefeller said...

edutcher, if you think that the Upper West Side is a place that wealth is fleeing from, you're engaged in even more wishful thinking than you usually are. I don't live in New York or carry any particular brief for that city or its wealthier inhabitants, but for someone to claim that these tough economic times are leading to the decline of that place is just absurd and says more about their resentments than economic realities. And I'm probably more familiar with higher education issues than you will ever be. That's one of the benefits of an expensive education, especially if you keep on paying attention after graduation.

But hey, Quayle apparently is some sort of awesome internet engineering mogul who laughs at the penurious and unproductive inhabitants of the Upper West Side, people who have humanities degrees and that impoverished writer named David Brooks. Maybe you can ask him for a job. You are two peas in a pod and it might be the best thing to happen to you in years.

bagoh20 said...

"If I were President Obama, I would spend the next year showing how government can serve a humble, helpful and supportive role to the central institutions of American life. "


Why is everyone's advice to Obama consist of basically outright lying - to pretend the first four years didn't happen and that in fact what we saw never was? It may actually turn out that this Obama was not the real one, but the real one is not a conservative.

David said...

" "Political suicide" was committed. Is it noticeable?"

Dead man walking--not Obama necessarily, but the nation. The negative consequences of Obama's debt binge will range somewhere between "very bad" and "catastrophic." When this happens (and registers on us) there will be massive finger pointing and whoever is in office at the time will get a lot of the blame. A hundred years later, when we are still feeling the consequences of the horrid mistakes, Obama's role will be more clear. Maybe.

edutcher said...

somefeller said...

edutcher, if you think that the Upper West Side is a place that wealth is fleeing from, you're engaged in even more wishful thinking than you usually are. I don't live in New York or carry any particular brief for that city or its wealthier inhabitants, but for someone to claim that these tough economic times are leading to the decline of that place is just absurd and says more about their resentments than economic realities.

As always, some phony folksy shoots off his mouth without waiting to see if there's any ammunition in it.

There's very serious concern about how blue-state policies are causing a flight of companies from Gotham.

That's why Andy Cuomo's looking a little red state these days.

Come out from Mom's basement and look around some time.

bagoh20 said...

Everyone knows I bag on the intelligentsia a lot.

I present exhibit A: David Brooks

I know, I know. I'm not being fair.

Pogo said...

Not David Brooks' best piece, until you consider he wrote it using only one hand.

bagoh20 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leslyn said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bagoh20 said...

"He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate."

The only thing missing from this statement is the word transparent, then it would be a complete lie.

I guess he could really believe that, but then you have to wonder; what's the advantage of being a smart guy?

somefeller said...

There's very serious concern about how blue-state policies are causing a flight of companies from Gotham.

Flight of companies from NYC or New York State does not equal flight of wealth from specific wealthy enclaves in Manhattan. There's a lot of money there that has its genesis elsewhere and the neighborhood mentioned as a specific example isn't exactly going downhill in value. Once again, don't confuse categories or let wishful thinking about how the world works act as a substitute for analysis. However, that issue - how Manhattan has priced out the middle class and become a playground for very wealthy residents and wealthy tourists and how this is probably a bad thing for America, is an issue worth discussing with a thoughtful interlocutor. Unfortunately for you, you're not that guy.

That's why Andy Cuomo's looking a little red state these days.

Yes, Andrew Cuomo is a great Democratic reform governor. Thanks for noticing. I expect he has a bright future and if he can create a new model for Democratic governance by dealing with the excessive influence of sclerotic public employee unions without wrecking the public sector, he may be President someday.

Come out from Mom's basement and look around some time.

Nice cliche, but you need to get more creative.

ricpic said...

I can't even enter the magic kingdom nowadays because the fee is twelve bucks TWELVE BUCKS! to cross a bridge or drive through a tunnel to get into the emerald city. Thanks, Democrat lovers of the people. Well, I can but I won't. Talk about rape.

Roger J. said...

David Brooks is the NYT's conservative butt boy--he's there so upper east side liberals can invite him to cocktail parties to demonstrate how inclusive the liberals are. Brooks is a loser. Follwed in the same tracks as did William Safire. Theres no there there.

edutcher said...

somefeller said...

Flight of companies from NYC or New York State does not equal flight of wealth from specific wealthy enclaves in Manhattan.

He doesn't live in Gotham, but he knows all about it. As the blue model fails, the incentive to live there will get less, even for the chi-chi crowd.

However, that issue - how Manhattan has priced out the middle class and become a playground for very wealthy residents and wealthy tourists and how this is probably a bad thing for America, is an issue worth discussing with a thoughtful interlocutor. Unfortunately for you, you're not that guy.

Yes, but here he sits, doing just that. It would seem I am that guy.

He just isn't.

Apparently, some phony folksy is contradicting himself again.

And, considering all the snark he spews these days, he's actually sounding like our Frothy Occupier, Hatman.

Yes, Andrew Cuomo is a great Democratic reform governor.

For the Demos, "reform" doesn't mean red state. I'll quote Walter Russell Mead again, "The past few years have seen a number of blue-state Democratic governors—from California to New York to Vermont—driven by dire fiscal situations to attack the blue model."

Thank you for acknowledging I'm right.

walter said...

"If he senses an important viewpoint is not represented at a meeting, he will stop the proceedings and demand that it gets included."

Make it seem like he was right there with him in important meetings, admiring the crease.

somefeller said...

Yes, but here he sits, doing just that. It would seem I am that guy.

No, edutcher, I'm just raising the topic to make a quick point and then moving on. If you had decent reading comprehension skills, you wouldn't confuse that with engaging you as a worthwhile interlocutor. Once again, you aren't that guy and you shouldn't flatter yourself thinking otherwise.

And I am familiar with Walter Russell Mead's work, enough to know that one of the things he's doing is to come up with a new model for governance, one that isn't simplistic Tea Party bashing of the public sector or a knee-jerk liberal defense of whatever the public employee unions want. In fact, if one actually spends some time looking at discussions within American liberalism (I know, that would take a level of intellectual capability, sophistication and seriousness you don't have, but please indulge me and maybe this comment will be read by someone who has such characteristics), one can see that discussion playing itself out in various ways. Look at the recent DC Mayoral elections as an example. And I leave this little bit of commentary to you in the spirit of a missionary trying to elevate a poor wretch who could use a little charity. It is Easter, after all, and as such I need to head off to brunch. Blessings to all.

bagoh20 said...

I don't know who pays for Brooks printer cartridges, but they are not getting a fair return, unless the Administration is buying them.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Compare and contrast:

Brooks:

In many ways, Barack Obama has lived up to his promise. He has created a thoughtful, pragmatic administration marked by a culture of honest and vigorous debate. When Obama makes a decision, you can be sure that he has heard and accounted for every opposing argument.


WSJ 1/23/2009

The top congressional leaders from both parties gathered at the White House for a working discussion over the shape and size of President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan. The meeting was designed to promote bipartisanship.

But Obama showed that in an ideological debate, he’s not averse to using a jab.

Challenged by one Republican senator over the contents of the package, the new president, according to participants, replied: “I won.”

edutcher said...

omefeller said...

Yes, but here he sits, doing just that. It would seem I am that guy.

No, edutcher, I'm just raising the topic to make a quick point and then moving on. If you had decent reading comprehension skills, you wouldn't confuse that with engaging you as a worthwhile interlocutor. Once again, you aren't that guy and you shouldn't flatter yourself thinking otherwise.


To paraphrase some phony folksy, "Tired cliche, you need to get something more creative".

No, I made my point, and I'm right.

The rich are rich because they know how to handle money and they will flee Gotham soon enough when they tire of Bloomie's nannyism and the high cost of everything.

That's why so many businesses went overseas when Bush41 let George Mitchell talk him into the luxury tax.

It is Easter, after all, and as such I need to head off to brunch.

As always, some phony folksy leaves when beaten. Expect a switch to his shiloh alias momentarily.
As

traditionalguy said...

The normally concise and condensed scriptures in the Bible devote 34 verses in Job 41 to God going on and on describing Leviathan.

The gist of it is that there is a sea monster God created that cannot be challenged by men. Its hide has scales that are so tightly bound that no weapon of man can get through to kill it. Its eyes flash light and it breathes fire and smoke.

The message is that Levathan represents the spiritual power of Pride and it can only be defeated by God, Himself.

So Brooks is not the first writer that has been facinated while he dsecribed Obama's true self being like a fierce, great, gliding and coiling serpent.

Peano said...

If the evidence leads him in directions he finds uncomfortable, he will still follow the evidence.

I'm trying to remember whether Brooks ever wrote a more obsequious, intellectually dishonest piece of humbug.

Trying ...

Trying ...

No. I got nothing.

n.n said...

Love makes you blind. I wonder what Michelle thinks of her competition.

MikeDC said...

But Ann!
That's just moderate, pragmatic Obama you, yourself were hoping would reapparate* a few days back!

* "Reapparate" rather than reappear to signify that such thing as "moderate, pragmatic Obama" was never actually real, and thus could not "appear" a first time. Rather, there was slobbering obsequiousness over the apparition of "moderate, pragmatic Obama", which, of course, doesn't actually exist.

somefeller said...

Well, I'm back from brunch and I see that Edutcher has brusquely rejected the charitable gift I had provided to him. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, as I've heard people say that those who receive such gifts often resent the donors. Alas.

But I won't give up on charity. Edutcher, here's another gift/pro-tip: declaring victory on the internet is rarely convincing, particularly when it is done after someone has said they are departing the comment box for awhile. It just looks kind of pathetic and desperate. I know those two words describe much of your life, but you shouldn't pass up opportunities for self-improvement. If you won't try to better yourself, no one else will take a chance on you. Chin up, man, and seize the day!

wyo sis said...

Liberal morality on lying: If you're going to tell a lie make it a big obvious blatant one and never apologize for it.

yashu said...

Brooks's effusions on Obama make me want to throw up (as Santorum would say). Vomitous. Cringeworthy. This one, like all the others, is the quintessence of special pleading.

His Obama crush is so over the top it reads like parody. I actually don't think any of the other NYT writers, the actual liberals-- let's pretend we believe the fiction that Brooks is "conservative"-- have ever matched it.

edutcher said...

Some phony folksy's "charity" is only ego talking.

Like many Lefties here, his estimate of his intellect outstrips the intellect itself.

And most of his rap is not so much fact, but an attempt to bulldoze everyone with how much he appears to know.

As I (and, originally, Quayle) say, the blue model is collapsing and people are voting with their feet.

PS For most people, brunch doesn't go 4 hours.

SukieTawdry said...

"Oh, brother" doesn't even begin to say it.

We know now that Obama is the kind of administrator who checks boxes and sends his chief economics adviser to the woodshed when she can't come up with enough "green" jobs.

Brooks should just go back to quietly contemplating the crease in Obama's pants.

Henry said...

Is there such a thing as narcissism by proxy?

Crimso said...

"trying to overhaul most sectors of national life"

That's not in his job description.

"If I were President Obama, I would spend the next year showing how government can serve a humble, helpful and supportive role to the central institutions of American life."

This seems to be in direct contradiction to the first quote. I don't read Brooks, so can someone tell me if he contradicts himself within a piece often? Or is there some bit of nuance that my feeble semi-literate brain isn't grasping? Perhaps he's saying that Obama went balls-to-the-wall to really shake things up early on but now needs to be a caring nurturer.

ed said...

So.

If the nation is visualized as a "large man" with Obama as the "head".

Who is located in the asshole?

donald said...

Barak Obama has Harvey Updyked this country.

Just sayin.

Holmes said...

Brooks' Laundromat. Special on Pants Creases, 2 for $5.