I don't at all adhere to the school of thought that says "if Andrew Sullivan and David Brooks like Barack Obama, he must be evil." That said, I do think it's clear reading things like this doozy from Brooks today that one important driving force behind the sophisticated right's praise of Obama is a simple belief that he'll probably lose in the end. Then, when Clinton is nominated, having praised Obama to the skies they can lament that once again -- sigh -- the Democratic Party has let them down and they have no choice but to vote for the Republicans. The effort here is to somehow bracket the Bush years as just some kind of goofy one-off that we can forget about and remember that the real issue -- as it so often seems to be here in Washington -- is Bill Clinton's sex life. Or something.
As an analysis of what "sophisticated conservatives" (and some unsophisticated ones as well) will probably do if and when Hillary Clinton wins the nomination - i.e., contrast her unfavorably with the far more appealing Obama - I suppose this argument makes sense. But as an analysis of what's actually going through the minds of those same sophisticated conservatives as they say nice things about Obama now - and especially of what's going through the mind of David Brooks - this imputation of machiavellian bad faith seems like the purest nonsense.
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