While David Brooks Is Not Mitt Romney, He Very Much Remains David Brooks


Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

Related Post Roulette

33 Responses

  1. Avatar b-psycho says:

    If David Brooks seriously wants a hawkish technocratic moderate in the White House, he should vote for Obama.Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    The Brooks Romney article did indeed read like he’d written it when he was drunk off his gourd but in his defense I found his Romney biography quite funny and well written.Report

    • Avatar Elias Isquith in reply to North says:

      Oh, it was funny. Weird things are often funny. Purely as a writer, I think Brooks is capable of flashing considerable talent. I’d rather read him than, say, Ponnuru — even if the latter is more substantive and analytically engaging.Report

  3. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    transplanted comment from zic:

    Nice, Elias. I think all the debates do is provide confirmation bias for the reasons we’ve already decided to vote.

    I sort of liked Brooks concern trolling for Romney; but my favorite response to it comes from Matt Yglessias; basically saying Brook’s recommendations are GOP anathema.

    If I were Romney, I’d give practically the reverse speech focusing on the president’s strange obsession with raising taxes. It used to be that I thought Democrats wanted to raise taxes because they love big spending. At least, that’s how they did it in Massachusetts. But this president loves tax increases so much he was eager to betray his own party and slash Medicare spending in order to get them. A Romney administration doesn’t think you bolster a depressed economy with higher taxes. Heck, you can even ask Paul Krugman! I understand ideological disagreements, but this is an administration that just doesn’t get it. Let’s extend the Bush tax cuts, let’s extend the payroll tax cuts, and let’s work on revenue-neutral pro-growth reform for the long term. But in the short-term, why not try to make taxes even lower? This administration keeps trying to “stimulate” the economy with unemployment benefits and food stamps to help people get by when they can’t find jobs. Why not
    deploy that money cutting taxes on work and business investment? I don’t think struggling Americans want more SNAP benefits, I think they want to work.

    That’s not a bulletproof economic agenda, but it makes more sense that what Brooks is proposing and even better actually reflects conservative ideas!

    But my favorite concern trolling for this debate season comes from Bloomberg Executive Editor, Albert R. Hunt. Obama’s Penchant for Arrogance is Bigger Debate Foe. His reasons for fearing Obama is arrogant? Saying Hillary was likable and saying Romney got really excited rewriting a speech to contain more attacks on the president.

    But this bit takes the cake:

    The president’s campaign sees Romney as an out-of-touch stiff without core beliefs, willing to say or do anything for political advantage.
    Fair or not, that’s a derisive characterization.

    Derisive characterization. A dog whistle, telling the first black president not to get too arrogant. Don’t you go getting uppity, Obama. Remember your place.

    The Oval Office.Report

  4. Avatar Tom Van Dyke says:

    I’m no Brooks fan, but he has this about right. Presidents don’t create jobs, but some get in the way.


    Fifty-five percent of small business owners and manufacturers would not have started their businesses in today’s economy, according to a new poll that also reports 69 percent say President Obama’s regulatory policies have hurt their businesses.

    “There is far too much uncertainty, too many burdensome regulations and too few policymakers willing to put aside their egos and fulfill their responsibilities to the American people,” said Jay Timmons, president of the National Association of Manufacturers, which commissioned the poll along with the National Federation of Independent Businesses. “To fix this problem, we need immediate action on pro-growth tax and regulatory policies that put manufacturers in the United States in a position to compete and succeed in an ever-more competitive global economy.”

    The poll reports another ominous statistic for job creation: “67 percent say there is too much uncertainty in the market today to expand, grow or hire new workers.” Why? Because “President Obama’s Executive Branch and regulatory policies have hurt American small businesses and manufacturers,” according to 69 percent of the business owners surveyed.


    • Avatar Roger in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      This is a perfect example of how TVD is one of the best and most valuable commenters on this blog.

      He injects pertinent, albeit inconvenient, facts into the progressive echo chamber with a well chosen link. In doing so, he clearly reveals that the progressives are just spinning pleasant narratives and rationalizations to each other. No wonder progressives are so threatened or annoyed by him, and why many have admitted to skipping his comments. Self delusion requires it.Report

    • Avatar Liberty60 in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      I love this, how small bidnessmen seem to always finger “taxes and regulation” as the culprit for economic downturns. Its the “Doc Laffer’s Miracle Cure-all for everything from warts to lefthandedness”

      During the housing boom, it was banks and realtors and homebuilders and contractors who assured us that less regulation was the key to keeping it going, and lower taxes would guarantee lasting prosperity.

      Yet when the bubble finally burst and crashed the market, to what do these same small bidnessmen point as the culprit? Yep.

      Asking a bidnessman about economics is foolish, its like asking a welder about structural engineering.Report

  5. Avatar James K says:

    While Brooks’ “We’ll be friendlier to growth” part is inane, I would pay good money to see a Presidential candidate utter this simple truth:

    The second wicked problem the next president will face is sluggish growth. I assume you know that everything President Obama and I have been saying on this subject has been total garbage. Presidents and governors don’t “create jobs.” We don’t have the ability to “grow the economy.” There’s no magic lever.


  6. Avatar Ryan Noonan says:

    My absolute favorite thing, which conservatives keep repeating (even Tom in this very comment thread!), is this notion that rich people aren’t going to work harder because Barack Obama has hurt their feelings. And, actually, we have become so incapable of separating the political and the personal that I even kind of believe this.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

      Rich… sociopaths don’t work at all. They hire people to do that shit. And we all stand around and clap, trying to tell ourselves that it’s a good thing.

      Lamont ain’t gonna stop working. He’s the type of guy who you’d have to PAY to make him STOP working. Same thing with folks like Wozniak. They’re active, energetic people who always have an idea running..Report

  7. Avatar Roger says:

    No, Elias, he clearly is saying that the Obama administration is making thousands of regulatory, tax and spending decisions which are biased against growth and investment which are inexcusably chasing employers off shore or causing them to forgo investment altogether. Do you not even read your own pasted quotes?

    Your comment on “minding his betters” is just lame. The role of the President is to serve the citizens of the country.  Yeah, Elias, we the people are the betters of elected officials. They really are supposed to be our public servants… Right?

    If investors and entrepreneurs view the innumerable activities of the current administration as adverse to the viability of their ventures (a reasonable conclusion considering the World Economic Forum scorecard), then are prudent in not making additional investments.  This will reduce growth, productivity, jobs and prosperity for all of us.  

    How progressives can dismiss this as mystical, pseudo religious temper tantrums of rich people is beyond me.  You do all realize that entrepreneurs are people like us that decide to go into business for themselves, or expand into a new market, or open another diner, or just hire another worker….right?  You do know that the investors are you and me and the administrator of our pensions, and of the public service employee pensions…right? You do know that the job we  don’t create is one less opportunity for those of us looking for work…. Right?

    Actions have consequences, and the consequences of progressive lunacy is that it becomes less easy or practical or profitable to invest in human prosperity.  You guys are the ones following a mystical religion, and it is one which ends badly for all of us. Report

    • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Roger says:

      How true is all this, though? According to the World Economic Forum, the US ranks 7th in the world in global competitiveness. Obviously that’s not #1, and maybe we should be aiming for #1, but #7 is hardly the end of days. Do we have data on small business formation? To what extent are people following through on this rhetoric and not starting businesses?

      I’m not in total disagreement, as I think liberals can be too quick to dismiss the concerns of business owners, and as I would love to see a massive decrease in the overall level of regulation in the economy, but it remains the case that the US is one of the most competitive, least regulated economies in the world. This is why many of us find it so insane when people on the left and right have these doomsday arguments about how either Obama or Romney would end the US as we know it.Report

      • Avatar Roger in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

        I just saw a chart on business startups last week, but have been unable to find it.

        However, the issue really is more complex. It comes down to the cumulative impact of billions of separate decisions. How easy is it to start a business? Is it worth the effort and risk? How profitable to add one employee? To expand into a new market? When I expand do we build a large store or a small one? How much should we invest in R&D this year? Should we expand or contract our product suite? Should I invest in risky growth oriented companies or safe government bonds? These individual decisions are interrelated and affect and compound each other. They self amplify.

        The report card becomes GDP growth rate, employment trends, consumer and corporate attitudes, P/E ratios, international competitiveness studies, and so forth. The Bush and Obama administrations have fumbled the ball, especially compared to Clinton and Reagan.
        Nothing Romney has said make me believe he would be any better, especially considering he congress he would get.Report

        • Avatar Ryan Noonan in reply to Roger says:

          No offense is intended when I say this comment was a lot more valuable than “you progressives are a-holes!”

          I know it’s the general policy around here to constantly debate ideology and cast out the heretics, but I find that we tend to have much more amicable discussions when we talk about specific things we could do to make the world a better place.Report

          • Avatar Roger in reply to Ryan Noonan says:

            None taken, Ryan, but the nature of this piece and even some of some of your comments are aimed directly at the ideological debate. This piece isn’t really about Brooks or even Romney, it is about the fundamental uppity-ness of investors and entrepreneurs to dare to question the progressive mantra.Report

        • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

          Zirp? nearly negative interest bonds? I think the government is doing one hell of a lot to kickstart the process. I advocate fiscal measures as well, though I can see how libertarians might not, on principleReport

        • Avatar Michelle in reply to Roger says:

          Isn’t part of the problem that, despite the billions that the government has pumped into the banks, they’ve tightened up their lending process so much that it’s incredibly difficult to get a loan? I would think that excessively tight credit is one of those factors that inhibits small business start ups.Report

          • Avatar Kim in reply to Michelle says:

            No. The problem is that most people’s credit is too poor to get a loan. Any Loan. You can’t make a new business if you’re way underwater. And you REALLY can’t make a business if you can’t move away from your dying community…Report

            • Avatar zic in reply to Kim says:

              I know business owners with spotless credit records who cannot get business loans. So the first part of you rebuttal is incorrect (at times, not all small business owners have spotless credit histories), but the second is pertinent: dying communities. Without the vibrancy of a strong community, banks are reluctant to invest in even business owners with clean credit.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

                note: was basing most of my early part on loans for things like houses, which used to be easier to come by than business loans.Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to zic says:

                where are they looking for loans? if they have a local credit union, it’s often possible to swing loans with them that some major banks won’t go for.Report

              • Avatar Roger in reply to Kim says:

                Michelle, Kim and Zic,

                Are you guys thinking that there is a conspiracy between all the banks to not provide profitable loans during an era of unprecedented cheap money? Or something else? If so, how do they go about prohibiting cheaters from defecting on the conspiracy by trying to make profitable loans to all these great risks?Report

              • Avatar Kim in reply to Roger says:

                It’s a solvency crisis, not a liquidity crisis. BoA and plenty of other banks don’t know how much money they got, and some of them are going bankrupt every week (or were the last time I checked, I think the pace has slowed somewhat).

                now, THAT having been said, PNC and the “good banks” that McCain wanted to go massacre? They’re still loaning, because they know what money they’ve got. Ditto Credit Unions.Report

          • Avatar zic in reply to Michelle says:


            Another problem is venture investing. Two decades ago, VC actually invested in startups. Now, they’re second or even third-round investors of relatively established companies. The seed money, today, typically comes from friends and family first, banks, and angel investors. And angel investors were hit hard by the economic collapse.Immediately after the collapse, everything tanked. Last couple of years, I believe there is improvement; http://www.unh.edu/news/cj_nr/2012/apr/lw03angel.cfm

            He doesn’t compare to pre-collapse investment levels, but the website linked to will have older reports.Report

  8. Avatar Pinky says:

    There’s something unseemly about an adult male writing fanfic. All that was missing from the column was Romney taking off his mask, revealing himself to be Edward Cullen, and announcing that he loves David Brooks the mostest of all.Report