JONATHAN CHAIT NOVEMBER 19, 2010
Another big reader is Paul Ryan, likely chairman of the Budget Committee. He is one of the many House GOP fans of The Battle: How the Fight between Free Enterprise and Big Government Will Shape America’s Future, by AEI president Arthur Brooks. In fact, he teamed up with Brooks to debate the New York Times’s David Brooks on the op-ed pages of the Times and the Wall Street Journal in September. Arthur Brooks and Ryan argued for what Commentary’s Jennifer Rubin called a “course correction” to Obama’s economic model. David Brooks, in contrast, found the Brooks/Ryan approach too “Manichean.” While the outcome was inconclusive, it was AEI’s Brooks who found himself the preferred Brooks among House GOP leaders. When the Republican Study Committee hosted him at a private dinner, Rep. Michele Bachmann held up a copy of the book and insisted that each of her colleagues take a complimentary copy from the stash Brooks’s publisher had provided.
The apparently central role played by Brooks' book in Republican circles, in fact, a damning indictment of the state of conservative thought. I reviewed the book, and it's difficult to find the words to convey just how low the intellectual caliber of Brooks' argument is.