Opinion | Why You Love Mayor Pete – By David Brooks – The New York Times

DL:  Pete Buttigieg is already on my short list, with Elizabeth Warren, Jay Inslee and Joe Biden. These are all bright, articulate leaders with good character.

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

April 1, 2019, 1353
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Pete Buttigieg, center, at a campaign event in Greenville, S.C., on Saturday.CreditCreditRichard Shiro/Associated Press

“Pete Buttigieg has some kind of magic right now. His campaign bio, “Shortest Way Home,” was the 25th-best-selling book on Amazon when I checked on Monday. That put him just a few dozen places behind Michelle Obama, and thousands or tens of thousands of places ahead of Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders and the other candidates who have campaign books out now.

In a recent Iowa poll he surged to third place. His campaign just announced that it’s raised an impressive $7 million since January. And I can’t tell you how many Democrats in places as diverse as Nebraska, Indiana, New York and Washington have come up to me over the last few weeks raving about the guy. I met a superfan in Frederick, Md., who says that every few hours she calls the campaign to give another $10.

This is the biggest star-is-born moment since Lady Gaga started singing “Shallow.”

Why are people so in love with the mayor of South Bend, Ind., who almost nobody had heard of until he did a CNN town hall on March 10?” “

Opinion | We’ve All Just Made Fools of Ourselves — Again – by David Brooks – The New York Times

“You have a president who, in my opinion, beyond a shadow of a doubt, sought to, however ham-handedly, collude with the Russian government, a foreign power, to undermine and influence our elections.” — Beto O’Rourke, presidential candidate

“I think there’s plenty of evidence of collusion and conspiracy in plain sight.” — Adam Schiff, chairman of House Intelligence Committee

“I called [Trump’s] behavior treasonous, which is to betray one’s trust and aid and abet the enemy, and I stand very much by that claim.” — John Brennan, former C.I.A. director

“The biggest scandal in U.S. history is coming into focus. On Friday Rachel Maddow made it clear. Donald Trump conspired with the enemy.” — Rob Reiner, film director

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Maybe it’s time to declare a national sabbath. Maybe it’s time to step back from the scandalmongering and assess who we are right now.

Democrats might approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. It’s clear that many Democrats made grievous accusations against the president that are not supported by the evidence. It’s clear that people like Beto O’Rourke and John Brennan owe Donald Trump a public apology. If you call someone a traitor and it turns out you lacked the evidence for that charge, then the only decent thing to do is apologize.

Republicans and the Sean Hannity-style Trumpians might also approach this moment with an attitude of humility and honest self-examination. For two years they’ve been calling the Mueller investigation a witch hunt. For two years they’ve been spreading the libel that there are no honest brokers in Washington. It’s all a deep-state conspiracy, a swamp. They should apologize for peddling the sort of deep cynicism that undermines our country’s institutions.

And what about the rest of us? What about all the hours we spent speculating about the Mueller report, fantasizing about the Trump ruin or watching and reading speculation about these things? What about the superstructure of scandal politics we have built and live in today?

The sad fact is that Watergate introduced a poison into the American body politic. Richard Nixon’s downfall was just and important, but it opened up the mouthwatering possibility that you don’t need to do the hard work of persuading people to join your side. Instead, you can destroy your foes all at once through scandal.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
Dear David Brooks, you can do better than this. Just reading the top comments, and approving them, you sound foolish. First, practice what you preach. I agree there is too much talk about gossip, and not enough about policy. But in this dumb essay, you skip any discussion about policy, and talk only about the history of gossip. And yet, to my disbelief, you seem to equate the real witch hunts against the Clintons, with the stench of corruption and collusion that permeates the Trump family and associates. What do you think of the Green New Deal of Thomas Friedman and Hal Harvey– the four zeros. 1. Zero net energy buildings. 2. Zero waste manufacturing. 3. A zero carbon grid, and 4. Zero emissions transportation?
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth Century Vietnam” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com. He performs folk music and stories about Climate Change and the Sixth Extinction.

Opinion | The Case for Reparations – By David Brooks – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

March 7, 2019,  1194

“I’ve been traveling around the country for the past few years studying America’s divides — urban/rural, red/blue, rich/poor. There’s been a haunting sensation the whole time that is hard to define. It is that the racial divide doesn’t feel like the other divides. There is a dimension of depth to it that the other divides don’t have. It is more central to the American experience.

One way to capture it is to say that the other divides are born out of separation and inequality, but the racial divide is born out of sin. We don’t talk about sin much in the public square any more. But I don’t think one can grasp the full amplitude of racial injustice without invoking the darkest impulses of human nature.

So let’s look at a sentence that was uttered at a time when the concept of sin was more prominent in the culture. The sentence is from Abraham Lincoln’s second Inaugural Address. Lincoln had just declared that slavery was the cause of the Civil War. He was fondly hoping and fervently praying that the scourge of war would pass away. But then he added this thought:

“Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the bondsman’s 250 years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said 3,000 years ago, so still it must be said ‘the judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.’” “

Opinion | An Agenda for Moderates – The New York Times

By David Brooks
Opinion Columnist

Feb. 25, 2019, 379 c

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CreditCreditBilgin S. Sasmaz/Anadolu Agency, via Getty Images

“Ideas drive history. But not just any ideas, magnetic ideas. Ideas so charismatic that people devote their lives to them.

In his 1999 book, “The Real American Dream,” Andrew Delbanco described the different ideas that, at different stages, drove American history. The first stage in our history was driven by a belief in God. The Pilgrims came because God called them to do so. God’s plans for humanity were to be completed on this continent.

The second phase, through the 19th century, was organized around Nation. The pioneers were settling the West. It was the age of American exceptionalism. America was to be a universal nation, a home and model for all humankind, the last best hope of earth.

The third phase, from 1960 to today, was organized around Self. Each individual should throw off constraints. The best life was the life of maximum self-expression, self-actualization and maximum personal freedom, economic as well as lifestyle.”

Opinion | A Nation of Weavers – by David Brooks – the New York Times

The top commenters shred this piece as off the wall, but they are poor listeners. David Brooks speaks deeply about underlying problems and solutions.

“On Dec. 7, 1941, countless Americans saw that their nation was in peril and walked into recruiting stations. We don’t have anything as dramatic as Pearl Harbor, but when 47,000 Americans kill themselves every year and 72,000 more die from drug addiction, isn’t that a silent Pearl Harbor? When the basic norms of decency, civility and truthfulness are under threat, isn’t that a silent Pearl Harbor? Aren’t we all called at moments like these to do something extra?

My something extra was starting something nine months ago at the Aspen Institute called Weave: The Social Fabric Project. The first core idea was that social isolation is the problem underlying a lot of our other problems. The second idea was that this problem is being solved by people around the country, at the local level, who are building community and weaving the social fabric. How can we learn from their example and nationalize their effect?”

Opinion | Do Democrats Know What Unites Us? – by David Brooks – NYT

“National identity is the most powerful force in world politics today. Most of the strong leaders around the world were swept to power with a strong nationalist story and govern in nationalist ways. This is true in Russia, China, India, the U.S., Israel, Turkey, Britain, Brazil and on and on. It’s hard to see how any party could appeal or govern these days without a strong national story.

In this country, Donald Trump has almost nothing but a national story, which he returned to with a vengeance in the closing days of this year’s campaigns. It happens to be a cramped, reactionary and racial story. Trump effectively defines America as a white ethnic nation that is being overrun by aliens — people who don’t look like us, don’t share our values, who threaten our safety and take our jobs.

Trump’s blood-and-soil nationalism overturns the historical ideal of American nationalism, which was pluralistic — that we are united by creed, not blood; that our common culture is defined by a shared American dream — pioneers settling the West, immigrants crossing an ocean in search of opportunity, African-Americans rising from slavery toward equality.

The Republicans have flocked to Trump’s cramped nationalism and abandoned their creedal story. That’s left the Democrats with a remarkable opportunity. They could seize the traditional American national story, or expand it to gather in the unheard voices, while providing a coherent, unifying vehicle to celebrate the American dream.

And yet what have we heard from the Democrats? Crickets.

What is the Democratic national story? A void.

Why have the Democrats failed to offer a counternarrative to Trumpian nationalism? For two reasons, I think, one political and one moral.

First, these days nations often define their national identities through their immigration policies. Democrats have never liked to talk about immigration at election time. The immigration issue splits the Democratic coalition. Affluent progressive and liberal activists are for it, but working-class whites and African-Americans are more skeptical.”

Opinion | What Is the Democratic Story? – by David Brooks – NYT

David Brooks in an intangible national treasure. He starts with:
“There’s a lot of discussion about how far left the Democratic Party should go these days. Is it destroying its electoral chances when its members call for a single-payer health plan or abolishing ICE?

That’s an important question, but the most important question is what story is the Democratic Party telling? As Alasdair MacIntyre argued many years ago, you can’t know what to do unless you know what story you are a part of. Story is more important than policies.”

. . . .    “In brief, Democrats have stayed away from this narrative because the long hoped-for alliance between oppressed racial minorities and the oppressed white working class has never materialized, and it looks very far from materializing now.

Maybe this year is different, but for 100 years, Democrats have tended to win with youthful optimism and not anger and indignation. The Democrats who have won nationally almost all ran on generational change — on tired old America versus the possibilities of new America: F.D.R.’s New Deal, J.F.K.’s New Frontier, Bill Clinton’s bridge to the 21st century and Obama’s hope and change.”

David Lindsay:

Thank you David Brooks for shining more light into the darkness that appears to be growing. The detractors are many, and they are like those annoying children of Kahil Gilbran, They have their own thoughts. You do not pander to any group, but perhaps to those of us who are into self flagellation and searching for deeper truths at the expense often of popularity.

“The story Donald Trump tells is that we good-hearted, decent people of Middle America have been betrayed by stupid elites who screw us andbeen threatened by foreigners who are out to get us. That story resonated with many people. You can get a lot of facts wrong if you get your story right.”

In tennis, if you hit a ball before it lands by the baseline, you will never know for sure if it was going out. We will probably never know how we would have done in the last election if we had chosen Bernie Sanders over Hillary Clinton. While I lie awake at night thinking about such things, I force myself to think about what do to in this next election. I think fondly of David Leonhardt, who pointed out that we have to be disciplined, and focus on the red and blue state voters  who voted for Obama, and then switched to Trump. We also have to somehow force the government, or at least the press, to hold off the Russians and GOP manipulating Facebook and other social media with dark ads, paid for with dark money.

Opinion | The Failures of Anti-Trumpism – by David Brooks – NYT

WACO, Tex. — Over the past year, those of us in the anti-Trump camp have churned out billions of words critiquing the president. The point of this work is to expose the harm President Trump is doing, weaken his support and prevent him from doing worse. And by that standard, the anti-Trump movement is a failure.We have persuaded no one. Trump’s approval rating is around 40 percent, which is basically unchanged from where it’s been all along.We have not hindered him. Trump has more power than he did a year ago, not less. With more mainstream figures like H. R. McMaster, Rex Tillerson and Gary Cohn gone, the administration is growing more nationalist, not less.We have not dislodged him. For all the hype, the Mueller investigation looks less and less likely to fundamentally alter the course of the administration.”

David Brooks, in my opinion, wrote and filed this before the Mueller investigation raided Trump’s lawyer yesterday afternoon. He gets my respect anyway. He has balls to not have pulled and ammended it. Unfortunately, it has more mistakes than ususual. Some of his counsel is sound, but here are two critical comments I fully endorse.

Michael Hogan
Georges Mills, NH
Times Pick

David, I was right there with you, right up to this little nugget of nonsense: “…tens of millions of Americans rightly feel that…their religious liberties are under threat.” Oh, please. What’s under threat, in the case of the Americans to which that is presumably directed, is their right to impose their religious beliefs on others, whether it’s to refuse someone service that’s available to anyone else or to deny their employees access to medical insurance for any procedure they find distasteful. It is no different than saying that the civil rights movement threatened the civil liberties of those who wanted to carry on segregating people and refusing to serve them based on their race. Your analysis is otherwise spot on, but you need to get past this blind spot about the creeping efforts by Christian fundamentalists to stage a back-door takeover of the public square.

 

Kathy Lollock
Santa Rosa, CA3h ago
Times Pick
Mr. Brooks, let’s get one thing straight, and I think I speak for thousands of anti-Trumpers. We are not “insufferably condescending.” On the contrary, we are merely fighting tooth and nail for our rights, including health and welfare and equality and justice for all persuasions, that we see daily trampled on by this failure of a man and his ruthless Cabinet and Congress.

I have friends and family who are Trump supporters, and again I would never dream of patronizing or impugning them. Even though I may not agree with their politics, they are good people, and I will not judge them.

But what I will do is NOT be swayed by your analysis of our “failures.” I will continue to fight for the vulnerable, the black and brown-skinned, the aged, the woman, the gay, the Muslim. I will continue to support our youth who have better sense than we so-called adults when it relates to guns. And I hope everyone out there who reads this column agrees with me that we should not and can not stop when it comes to an amoral, degenerative who was fraudulently elected president..a word that will be tainted for years to come by this horrible man.

5 Replies 441 Recommended

Here is a comment I liked a lot, but couldn’t recommend, because it gets ugly and rude at the end, after making a series of excellent points. We should always listen respectively to David Brooks, who despite his blind spots, is a national treasure. His multiplicity of strengths far outweigh his weaknesses.

V

I’m confused, Mr. Brooks, did you write this column before or after the FBI raid on President Trump’s lawyer’s office and residence today?

This has never happened in our country before.

Trump still has the support of the Republican base because the Republican leaders are allowing this wildly corrupt, shady liar to hold onto his base. Speaker Ryan and Senator McConnell refuse to hold Trump accountable, refuse to investigate his corrupt practices, his corrupt cabinet members, refuse to call out his lies. They are feckless, spineless, complicit.

Since Trump makes policy decisions by literally watching “Fox and Friends,” Trump’s Fox-watching base is living in some sort of weird bubble.

The 40% can have this lying, corrupt President Trump. The opposition is winning because Trump’s support hasn’t grown, and that’s because of the protests, the enthusiasm on the left, the resistance.

A majority of Americans did not vote for President Trump in 2016.

We need this majority to galvanize and vote all Republicans out of office in 2018, in 2020, and beyond.

Don’t listen to Mr. Brooks.

Resist.

David Lindsay Jr.
Hamden, CT | Pending Approval
David Brooks is a national treasure. I’m guessing that he wrote and filed this before the Mueller investigation raided Trump’s lawyer yesterday afternoon. It already feels dated. He gets my respect anyway. He has courage to not have pulled and amended it. Unfortunately, it has more mistakes, or challenging comments, than usual. Some of his counsel is rock solid sound, but there are two critical comments I fully endorse. (Michael Hogan and Cathy Lollock.) There is a comment by V I liked a lot, but couldn’t recommend, because it gets ugly and rude at the end, after making a series of excellent points. Brooks sounds soft sometimes on the GOP leadership. His digs are subtle, even oblique. We should always listen respectively to David Brooks, who despite his blind spots, or gentleness, is a national treasure. His multiplicity of strengths far outweigh his weaknesses, such as when he writes about psychology and philosophy and love and values. He also covers a wider range of topics than many of his peers at the NYT. And he is right, that Hillary Clinton, and many of her supporters, disrespected many of the Trump supporters. Fearless Brooks does not tire in reminding us to always show respect to our opponents and people in fly-over country. He never promises you a rose garden, but will help you identify and climb mountains.
David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

What Holds America Together – by David Brooks – NYT

“Unity can come only from a common dedication to this experiment. The American consciousness can be formed only by the lab reports we give one another about that experiment — the jeremiads, speeches, songs and conversations that describe what the experiment is for, where it has failed and how it should proceed now.

One of my favorites of these lab reports is Walt Whitman’s essay “Democratic Vistas,” published in 1871. The purpose of democracy, Whitman wrote, is not wealth, or even equality; it is the full flowering of individuals. By dispersing responsibility to all adults, democracy “supplies a training school for making first class men.” It is “life’s gymnasium.” It forges “freedom’s athletes” — strong and equal women, courageous men, deep-souled people capable of governing themselves.”

“Whitman was not, however, pessimistic. He had worked as a nurse during the Civil War, watching men recover and die, and the experience had given him illimitable faith in the goodness of average citizens. Average American soldiers showed more fortitude, religious devotion and grandeur than all the storybook heroes, he wrote. They died not for glory, nor even to repel invasion, but out of gratitude to have been included in the American experiment. They died “for an emblem, a mere abstraction — for the life, the safety of the flag.”

Whitman spent his life trying to spiritualize democratic life and reshape the American imagination, to help working people see the epic heroism all around them that unites the American spirit.”

David Lindsay Jr. Hamden, CT Pending Approval NYT Comments.
Wow. This is magnificent piece by David Brooks. I am sorry that so many of the comments tear him apart, without addressing the brilliant ideas he brings forth from the genius and heart of Walt Whitman.
I hate to sound snobby, but the comments section doesn’t seem to give this man a fair hearing, or to even understand the profundity of some his research and questioning. My father was a Lincoln scholar, who read Whitman, and it is a priviledge to hear some of Whitman’s extraordinary essay, and to contemplate his faith in and admiration of common people.
I almost wish that the comments section had a 4th tab, after: All, Readers Picks and NYT Picks, there should be another, called Mostly in Praise, or, In Support. This 4th tab, would be especially usefull when reading quickly through the angry mob of comments for David Brooks, or for instance, Brett Stephens. I love Socrates the commentor, but he makes a fool of himself, when he suggests that Abe Lincoln would be shocked by the scoundrels that have taken charge of the government today. Lincoln was famous for so many things, joke telling, brilliance, humor, wrestling, and especially his humility and sadness over the behavior of his fellow citizens. I recommend all six volumns of the Carl Sandberg biography. Now, we should read Whitman.
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David Lindsay Jr. is the author of “The Tay Son Rebellion, Historical Fiction of Eighteenth-century Vietnam,” and blogs at TheTaySonRebellion.com and InconvenientNews.wordpress.com

The Virtue of Radical Honesty – by David Brooks – NYT

“This week I asked a group of students at the University of Chicago a question I’m asking students around the country: Who are your heroes? There’s always a long pause after I ask. But eventually one of the students suggested Steven Pinker. Another chimed in Jonathan Haidt. There was general nodding around the table.

That was interesting. Both men are psychology professors, at Harvard and N.Y.U., who bravely stand against what can be the smothering orthodoxy that inhibits thought on campus, but not from the familiar conservative position.One way Pinker does it is by refusing to be pessimistic. There is a mood across America, but especially on campus, that in order to show how aware of social injustice you are, you have to go around in a perpetual state of indignation, negativity and righteous rage. Pinker refuses to do this. In his new book, “Enlightenment Now,” he argues that this pose is dishonest toward the facts.

For example, we’re all aware of the gloomy statistics around wage stagnation and income inequality, but Pinker contends that we should not be nostalgic for the economy of the 1950s, when jobs were plentiful and unions strong. A third of American children lived in poverty. Sixty percent of seniors had incomes below $1,000 a year. Only half the population had any savings in the bank at all.Between 1979 and 2014, meanwhile, the percentage of poor Americans dropped to 20 percent from 24 percent. The percentage of lower-middle-class Americans dropped to 17 from 24. The percentage of Americans who were upper middle class (earning $100,000 to $350,000) shot upward to 30 percent from 13 percent.”