I know that David Brooks is a good and thoughtful guy. I know that he says and writes interesting and mostly true things. And I know that smart folks should read him. But, this article
--the first thing I read this morning after crawling out of bed--is superficial, and, unfortunately, revealing of a tendency of his to play to the media created myths more than to the reality of things (which is, ironically, what he claims to be not doing). Whether Beck, Limbaugh, et al, have "real power" or not is the wrong question to ask. It is in the realm of made up imaginary-media stuff. It doesn't get to the heart of the matter, having to do with elites and populism, and the decline of the conservative mind, and then, asking whether any of these guys having anything interesting or good to say to our confused body-politic. He writes: "The Republican Party is unpopular because it's more interested in pleasing Rush's ghosts than actual people. The party is leaderless right now because nobody has the guts to step outside the rigid parameters enforced by the radio jocks and create a new party identity. The party is losing because it has adopted a radio entertainer's niche-building strategy, while abandoning the politician's coalition-building strategy." That is not why the party is leaderless. There would be an easy solution, if that were true. You get my drift. And let's not talk about coalition building until we have something to build around; unless, of course, you just want to replicate politics as nothing more the build-on-factionalism of Andy Jackson and his friends, which Brooks seems willing to do.
Steve Hayward, on the other hand, (in Sunady's Washington Post
) asks the right question: Is Conservatism Brain-Dead?
Thank God this was the second article I read this morning for saved the rest of an otherwise ill-humored day! At the risk of oversimplification, I ask you to compare the two pieces, playing with the same or similar theme, and ask yourself which one does it better, and with verve, with insight. Which one leads the reader to a thought or two? It is in fact Hayward's masterful piece because Steve doesn't confuse the nature of the problem for its symptoms. Elementary, Mr. Brooks. Hayward: "The single largest defect of modern conservatism, in my mind, is its insufficient ability to challenge liberalism at the intellectual level, in particular over the meaning and nature of progress. To the left's belief in political solutions for everything, the right must do better than merely invoking 'markets' and 'liberty.'" A fine piece Mr. Hayward! Thank you.
Update: I just realized the man himself brought this to your attention. Sorry. Should have looked. No matter. Great piece that merits serious conversation.