Monday, August 31, 2009

Why Liberals Love David Brooks

Gabriel Sherman at The New Republic explains the relationship between the White House and David Brooks and why liberals read his column. Sherman writes:
"That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. 'I remember distinctly an image of--we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,' Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” In the fall of 2006, two days after Obama’s The Audacity of Hope hit bookstores, Brooks published a glowing Times column. The headline was 'Run, Barack, Run.'"
He continues:
"Brooks concedes that his place on the political spectrum has shifted somewhat over the years. 'I used to think conservatives were right about the big things--the Soviet Union, economic growth,' he explains. 'Now, on a lot of issues, I think liberals have been right about some big things, like rising inequality. Both sides of the education divide are within the Democratic Party. . . . The Republicans are sitting this one out. And, then, the war in Iraq has caused me to rethink things in a much more modest [way], and that is Burkean, too.'"
"As much as any columnist, Brooks speaks to these left-of-center suburbanites. After all, he is known for attracting liberal readers who normally can’t stand conservative pundits. 'I get a lot of people who say, ‘I’m a liberal and you’re the only one I read,’ ' Brooks says. 'Sometimes, it can be a little condescending. . . . But you take the readers where you can get them. I do wish more people walked up to me and said, ‘I’m a conservative and I love you.’ But, mostly, they don’t read the Times.'"

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Let's Build That Wind Farm Now

After a short period time from the passing of Ted Kennedy we should begin the process to approve and construct the wind farm of the Massachusetts shore. The Boston Globe writes:
"As the country’s first proposed commercial offshore wind farm, and the only project of its kind this far along in the approval process, Cape Wind could open the door for developers to harness the vast wind energy resource along the nation’s eastern seaboard. The approval could make Massachusetts the trailblazer of a power source that is an essential part of the country’s strategy to address global warming and to achieve energy security."
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The State Of The GOP

Former Reagan Economist, Bruce Bartlett, explains the problem with the GOP and why he left the party. Bartlett writes:
"Mindless partisanship has replaced principled conservatism. What passes for principle in the party these days is 'what can we do to screw the Democrats today.' How else can you explain things like that insane op-ed Michael Steele had in the Washington Post on Monday?"
He continues:
"I think the Republican Party is in the same boat the Democrats were in in the early eighties — dominated by extremists unable to see how badly their party was alienating moderates and independents. The party’s adults formed the Democratic Leadership Council to push the party back to the center and it was very successful. But there is no group like that for Republicans. That has left lunatics like Glenn Beck as the party’s de facto leaders. As long as that remains the case, I want nothing to do with the GOP."
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Jack Nicholson Attended The Kennedy Funeral

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The Affirmative Action Class

Glenn Greenwald at Salon has nailed the problem of nepotism in the pundit and political class. Greenwald wrotes:
"They should convene a panel for the next Meet the Press with Jenna Bush Hager, Luke Russert, Liz Cheney, Megan McCain and Jonah Goldberg, and they should have Chris Wallace moderate it. They can all bash affirmative action and talk about how vitally important it is that the U.S. remain a Great Meritocracy because it's really unfair for anything other than merit to determine position and employment. They can interview Lisa Murkowski, Evan Bayh, Jeb Bush, Bob Casey, Mark Pryor, Jay Rockefeller, Dan Lipinksi, and Harold Ford, Jr. about personal responsibility and the virtues of self-sufficiency. Bill Kristol, Tucker Carlson and John Podhoretz can provide moving commentary on how America is so special because all that matters is merit, not who you know or where you come from. There's a virtually endless list of politically well-placed guests equally qualified to talk on such matters."
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Ted Kennedy

The weekend long memorial of Ted Kennedy was surprisingly emotional for me. I don't know why, but I cried. Perhaps it the some strange mythical status that my Irish Catholic (OK not really, but I can't escape all of it) background places on the Kennedy name. I was in Washington D.C. last week when Senator Kennedy pasted away and watched as the flag at the National Zoo was lowered to half staff by a National Park Service officer. I was at the zoo about to see an elephant and a zebra and the sight of a man lowering the flag because someone I had never met died made me sad. I have not gotten very emotional about the passing of other public figures but I felt connected to this one. I can't imagine this will happen to me or the country again for a long time.

I watched most of the services over the weekend, switching back and forth between CNN, MSNBC and Fox News to witness the differences in the coverage. I think the Fox News coverage was better than the other two. I think the Fox folks tended not to get too emotional about the death and the events after. I found that refreshing as I was emotional already. CNN had its usual panel of too many people that made the coverage strange. I think at one point CNN had seven people on their panel, not including Anderson Cooper who was the host. MSNBC's coverage was uncomfortable. First Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews should not be in the same room with each other. Their joint discomfort with each other is palpable even if you are just hearing them speak. Olbermann attempts at soaring rhetoric sometimes seems forced and distracting. While Matthew's feeling is genuine his overt emotions was not comforting. By far the best person involved in covering the events this weekend on the three cable networks was MSNBC's Rachel Maddow. Unfortunately she was only involved on Friday.

Of all the written memorials to Senator Kennedy, I found Andrew Sullivan's essay in the Times to be the fullest, but there are many others that were just as good. I enjoyed the Sullivan piece because it is not the gushing liberal writing on the loss of the great liberal senator, it is the thoughtful conservative writing about the loss of the great American and part of the myth that is America.

Sullivan writes:
"Kennedy’s insistence on what he saw as racial justice and his deepest passion, universal healthcare, framed his legacy. There wasn’t a gay rights bill this compulsive heterosexual didn’t champion. Even if you disagreed with him on some issues, as I did, there was nothing subtle or contrived about his liberalism.

It was a big-hearted sort of politics, an expansively righteous sense of duty and, as such, an integral part of what makes Anglo-American politics work. Conservatism needs a Reagan and Thatcher; liberalism needs its Kennedys. Because we all need myth and we all need royalty – even if it is strained through the sieve of democratic rule.

Enoch Powell once remarked that all political careers end in failure. The strange thing about Kennedy is that his own might end posthumously in success. His anointed son Obama and a Democratic Congress will almost certainly pass a bill this autumn that will expand access to healthcare to all Americans. He fought for this for 40 years; and despite extreme resistance, peaking now, it seems clear that the Democrats have the votes to pass universal insurance, paid by government subsidy, for private healthcare."

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