Rage Against the Bobos

[Reihan] Ross's post on The Onion's This American Life gag got me to thinking.  This is so rare for me that I figured I'd celebrate this special occasion with a rambling post!

People (mainly obtuse people) forget that Bobos in Paradise, written by my friend and former boss, was written from an insider's perspective. The book was funny and fun, but it was also an incisive critique that was in part a self-critique. Now, this is pretty hard for some people to understand. How can David Brooks be criticizing Bobos and identifying with them at the same time?  Surely this is some kind of tactic designed to lull you into a false sense of security before he sneakily discredits namby-pamby liberals! Well, no. Sometimes a cigar is a cigar.  Like most thoughtful people, Brooks is large: he contains multitudes. So when David Brooks railed (with tongue firmly in cheek) against "hipster parents," he wasn't bashing liberals (as some people assumed). Rather, he was using humor (gasp!) to make a pretty simple point: your kids shouldn't be your billboards.  Narcissism has its limits. I mean, the kid featured in this article wasn't born this way.

I expected the food to be like Campbell's soup, but it's not at all. It's pretty good, but not for a guy like me. I prefer Citarella or Dean & DeLuca. I treasure things like an aged balsamic vinegar and trufflesthe mushrooms, not the chocolate. Jake

Jake is a boy. A boy at grave risk of growing up to become an insufferable man.  (By the way, it's at least as likely that Jake is the song of a right-leaning financier as a left-leaning screenwriter.) As the parent of young children, and indeed as a Bobo parent of young children, Brooks is exposed to this phenomenon on a regular basis.  Brooks isn't point-scoring against liberals: he's expressing compassion for young people.

But there are some conservatives who do spend much of their time performing anti-Bobo rage.  It's not about the children.  It's not even about moral turpitude.  It's affect about affect, and it's pretty much all that's left when you've run out of ideas. As someone who cares about conservative ideas, this bums me out. But I actually think post-Bush conservatives have a decent shot at getting past this.