David Brooks confesses over and over this morning that he's a "sap." He publicly flays his once-innocent belief in President Obama and scourges his civic republicanism that once wistfully yearned for the King who would be a Philosopher.
He's a sap, he says, for while his own virtue flies high, Obama's standard has fallen. Brooks is mortified:
Yes, I'm a sap. I believed Obama when he said he wanted to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country.
I can only assume that Brooks believed that since for three years Obama tried to move beyond the stale ideological debates that have paralyzed this country. It's a fragile intellectual exercise to write history before it's history, yet that history books will feature the preceding sentence's sentiment as a cornerstone of Obama's first term is beyond risky speculation.
Candidate and 2008 president-elect Obama was the same Obama of his 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic convention; President Obama of 2009, and 2010, and of early 2011 was the same Obama who struggled against immutable partisans colors of fierce, geographic opposition. Was that naive? No. Just poorly executed. He allowed the daily maelstroms of the modern presidency to subdue and drown his narrative of One America.
Yet the One though admittedly multicolored America must be segregated conceptually from the criminal syndicate of Republican officeholders who claim to speak for Americans. The electorate, by and large, is both persuadable and reasonable, given sufficient time and a persuasive repetition of Reason (which, as noted, is where the White House faltered). The Republican Party is the proud antithesis of republicanism, reason, cooperation, compromise, ethical behavior and political virtue. The Republican Party's raison d'etre is, singularly, the Republican Party; its welfare, the party believes, is inversely proportionate to the brutal destruction of all opposition.
Obama tried -- God, how he tried -- to welcome a loyal and honorable opposition. It was a worthy and noble experiment, which, however, was doomed to Chamberlain's fate. Philosopher Kings cannot forever deal with sophistic barbarians.
It is here that Brooks' professed disappointment in Obama takes a comically disingenuous turn:
I was hoping the president would give a cynical nation something unconventional, but, as you know, I’m a sap....
The president believes the press corps imposes a false equivalency on American politics. We assign equal blame to both parties for the dysfunctional politics when in reality the Republicans are more rigid and extreme. There’s a lot of truth to that, but at least Republicans respect Americans enough to tell us what they really think.
David Brooks is a writer of high intelligence and, often, keen insight. And it's only because I accept and acknowledge those Brooksian qualities that I must observe: I cannot imagine a more cynical assessment of Obama's strategic redeployment and Republicans' "respect" for Americans and what they "really think."
He must think we're saps.