I hereby affix my seal of hopelessness on David Brooks.
Here's a man who habitually gives witness to the glories of empirical, Burkean conservatism, yet this morning he foresees a tax-raising, reelection-unconcerned President Romney who'd be willing to defy his party's accelerating extremism and govern like an Eisenhower.
Everything, everything Mitt Romney has done over the last six years screams radical compliance. But Brooks says that ain't so. It wouldn't happen. The gutless, demagoguing chickenhawk of tireless tea party ass-kissing would, upon taking the presidential oath of office, suddenly recognize his profound responsibilities to a nation in need of bipartisan reforms--as opposed to the exigencies of his own reelection--and thus abruptly downshift ideologically.
Furthermore Brooks, the Times' greatest champion of greater civility and dignity in politics, brushes aside President Obama's extraordinary consistency in both and instead declares, seemingly from whole cloth, that "By running such a negative presidential campaign, Obama has won no mandate for a Grand Bargain." The gentle, moderate, subdued Mitt Romney will have.
I don't know which was a more out-of-body experience: my reading David Brooks' column or his writing it. But either way, he has now poisoned his professed Burkean roots at least once too often. He's not at all a political thinker of a tender philosophical bent. He's just a hack.