The Nonexistent Confidence Crisis
July 07, 2010
There's a frequent conservative refrain that businesses are hesitating to invest because the liberal Democratic agenda is introducing uncertainty about the future. For instance, David Brooks asserted yesterday: You can’t read models, but you do talk to entrepreneurs in Racine and Yakima. Higher deficits will make them more insecure and more risk-averse, not less. They’re afraid of a fiscal crisis. They’re afraid of future tax increases. They don’t believe government-stimulated growth is real and lasting. Maybe they are wrong to feel this way, but they do.
The Tragedy Of David Brooks
July 06, 2010
This quite good New York magazine profile of David Brooks made me feel sad for him: "Every column is a failure,” says Brooks. “I always wish I did something different.” Part of the problem is the format. There’s only so much you can do with 800 words. “I’m a 3,000-word person,” he says. Deadline days end with fourteen piles of paper stacked around his office—printouts, notes, index cards, photocopies—one for each paragraph of the story. If the column doesn’t come together, he resorts to the laundry list, beginning each paragraph with “First,” “Second,” etc.
More on Americans and Soccer
June 27, 2010
The thing that bothers me most about the Americans-not-accepting-soccer story is the underlying notion that if the majority of Americans have no interest in soccer, then Americans have no interest in soccer. By the same logic, Americans have no interest in reading novels, as survey upon survey shows that the majority of Americans prefer television to reading. I don't know the numbers, but I would venture to guess that the number of Americans reading literary fiction is in the neighborhood of the number of Americans interested in soccer.
Americans and Soccer
June 27, 2010
Every time the World Cup is on the same annoying question comes up: Will Americans accept soccer? Well, frankly, I could not care less. Yesterday I watched the US-Ghana game in a steakhouse in the suburbs of Nashville, with the game sound replaced by a country music selection so immaculately insufferable that they’re surely using it to extract bogus information in the Guantanamo Bay torture resort. Apart from me, there was a guy drinking alone, and some of the kitchen staff. Did I care less about the game because of that? No.
Should Obama Have Done Climate Instead Of Health Care?
June 01, 2010
In a line that I suspect we'll be hearing frequently, David Brooks writes today, "The decision to do health care before energy is now looking extremely unfortunate." I certainly agree that passing energy legislation would have been preferable to passing health care reform -- delaying climate legislation carries irreversible costs in a way that delaying health care reform does not. But was energy legislation ever politically feasible? It's not right now. Brooks implies that if Obama had done energy first and prioritized it, it would have passed. This assumption seems highly dubious.
The most damning analysis of Richard Goldstone’s report was written for The New Republic by Moshe Halbertal, a moral and legal philosopher at Hebrew University and NYU Law School. On December 28 in The New York Times, columnist David Brooks saluted Halbertal’s essay as one of the best “long form articles that have narrative drive and social impact.” It certainly did have social impact, and, for weeks and weeks, the discussion of Goldstone revolved around Halbertal’s critique of him, of Goldstone’s tainted jury of judges, and of their enmeshment with the United Nations.
Should Senate Democrats really try to pass an energy and climate bill this summer? Should offshore oil drilling be included? Who knows? Since nobody’s seen the details, I don’t know whether Senate Democrats should pursue a possible “comprehensive” energy and climate deal this year. Doubts abound, for sure, the BP oil spill has complicated things, and Brad Plumer over at the Vine has noted a ton of problems with earlier bill outlines. So we’ll just have to see what gets released, supposedly on Wednesday.
Belated, Outsourced Brooks-Blogging
April 26, 2010
Last Friday, a friend chastised me for neglecting to analyze David Brooks' column about how both parties are equally to blame for the unpleasantness of the political debate and how lonely it is for the embattled centrist who can see both sides. Fortunately, Rick Hertzberg has done my job for me, better than I could have.
David Brooks Defends W
April 21, 2010
David Brooks, chatting with Gail Collins, defends the Bush administration: It’s true the prescription drug bill was unpaid for, though I would mention the market elements in that reform have proven to be fantastically successful. Beyond that (and the small matter of the tax cuts, which Republicans are not complaining about) his administration was reasonably tight on spending.
The Idea of Ideas
April 21, 2010
“Ideas were, are, and always will be the next big thing,” Richard Stengel wrote pantingly in his editor’s letter in Time’s “third annual 10 Ideas issue,” published last month. (What a damning admission, to announce an annual special ideas issue.) His assumption that the next big thing is what we most desperately need to know is itself an idea to which some analytical pressure must be applied, but it nicely captures the spirit of the love of ideas in contemporary America. “Conceptual scoops,” Stengel calls the ideas in his issue.