Joe Biden was the passionate, compassionate conservative on stage last night. Like a grizzly with a conscience he defended America's traditions of caring communitarianism against the extremist torments of a wrenching atomism; it was Biden, not the Republican Ryan, who was all about preserving the American, Judeo-Christian value of keeping our brothers and sisters from the pseudoconservative radicalism of profit-mongering indifference.
That much had to be clear to the self-professed Burkean David Brooks. Biden stood for community and tradition and the conservation of both; Ryan stood for the ultimate dismantling of American society as built over a century's span--a society to be replaced, at the insistence of ideological whimsy, by Randian scrambling. Biden the Burkean: preserve, protect and defend what lifted America from a first-rate industrial power to a first-rate civilization.
Again, Brooks has to know this, he has to see it and recognize it. But of course he doesn't have to honestly acknowledge it. And he doesn't. He simply dismisses what's become the unmistakable core of Joe Biden's modern liberalism--the conservative, Burkean defense of societal traditionalism--and launches instead into this hallucination:
A lot of people will look at Biden’s performance and see a style of politics that makes complex trade-offs impossible.
That must be the single most mind-blowing sentence ever conceived in the desperately blown mind of David Brooks. It's the Bidens of our contemporary politics who have fueled polarization and produced gridlock, says Brooks. All those Senate thugs and House hooligans who pledged on January 20, 2009, to devote every working moment to fueling polarization and producing gridlock? A mere trifle. For, you see, Biden's display of passion last night demonstrated that "emotionalism" rules Obamian liberalism. And how can one negotiate with that?
And, naturally, also from Brooks and the right's collective mind comes this anticipated droplet of sadism:
What do independents want most? They want people who will practice a more respectful brand of politics, who will behave the way most Americans try to behave in their dealings: respectfully, maybe even pausing to listen for a second.
That leaves me speechless, not only because Obama got himself crucified by the commentariat last week for doing just that, but more so because sometimes there sits across the table a vulgar ideology so vastly contemptible and so disturbingly malicious that the best one can do is reach over that table and just righteously throttle the bejesus out of it. Which is what Biden, last night, quite properly did.