Though he's only hardly the most conservative columnist, David Brooks remains a favorite piñata of the left. The New York Times pundit went in for a vigorous round of swatting this week, with True/Slant's Matt Taibbi, among others, bashing his column on the Haiti earthquake. (That column Won The Day here at the Wire.)
Of all the port-side attacks launched against Brooks, few have employed the devastating technique of using Brooks' own columns to refute his contentions. Enter Salon's Glenn Greenwald, who successfully hung Brooks by his own noose in a richly detailed rebuttal.
The target: Brooks' column on Obama, health care and public opinion. After detailing Democratic plans to possibly push health care reform through Congress even if Scott Brown wins today's special election, Brooks opened up into this sanctimonious passage.
That, of course, would be political suicide. It would be the act of a party so arrogant, elitist and contemptuous of popular wisdom that it would not deserve to govern. Marie Antoinette would applaud, but voters would rage. The American people are not always right, but their basic sense of equilibrium is worthy of the profoundest respect.
Within 24 hours, Greenwald jumped on the column, citing six different Brooks columns in which he supported a policy or decision that cut against popular opinion. Wrapping the rhetorical noose tighter, he claims Brooks only cares about the public's "basic sense of equilibrium" when it suits him.
Throughout 2006 and 2007, overwhelming majorities of Americans were not only opposed to the war, but favored a quick timetable for withdrawal. So intense was the opposition that the Republicans suffered one of the century's most thorough and humiliating midterm election defeats in 2006. Yet there was David Brooks writing column after column demanding that public opinion be ignored, mocking withdrawal as deeply Unserious, advocating continued occupation, insisting that the superior wisdom of a select elite govern our policy rather than ignorant mass sentiment.
With Brooks thoroughly rebutted, Greenwald goes in for the kill with a scathing denunciation of Brooks' two-faced use of public opinion.
As he typically does, Brooks is just inventing facts about public opinion. There's no evidence that views about health care reform have driven the Massachusetts race, and Brooks offers none. That's a common trick he and his pundit-comrades use: they simply assert that public opinion is consistent with their own views without citing any evidence. But the larger deceit is the pretense that American public opinion matters. ... The opinion of the masses is just a prop they cynically wave around whenever it can prettify their desires with democratic packaging.
Greenwald's case isn't airtight -- Brooks actually supports the masses in at least one of his highlighted columns. But the Salon blogger does better than most at making Brooks eat his words.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.