David Brooks' Confused Defense of Donald Trump

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Did you catch this exchange on this week's Meet the Press, as New York Times columnist David Brooks sought to explain the growing popularity of Donald Trump among Republican voters [emphasis added]:

BROOKS: I think he's much deeper. The guy's been around since the '80s, and he stands for something. He stands for success, the gospel of success, that you can start out small and make it big in this country. Not that he did, but, but, but he stands for that.

That's odd. Brooks takes billionaire Trump seriously as a political force because Trump represents how you can "start out small and make it big" in America, even though Trump himself did not start out small. (His father's New York real estate business was worth $40 million.)

The Brooks-induced confusion actually began last week when the Times' conservative columnist wrote a paean to Trump in an effort to explain his soaring political popularity. (Well, his supposed soaring popularity: 50 percent of Americans think Trump would make a "poor" or "terrible" president.)

This was how Brooks dissected Trump's current media star turn:

Many people regard Trump as a joke and his popularity a disgrace. But he is actually riding a deep public fantasy: The hunger for the ultimate blowhard who can lead us through dark times.

Brooks added:

There has always been a large clump of voters who believe that America could reverse its decline if only a straight-talking, obnoxious blowhard would take control.


American voters love rich, "obnoxious" "blowhard" candidates and fantasize about one running the country from inside the White House? Since when?

It's telling that Brooks didn't point to any political examples from the American past because I'm pretty sure there are none. (Brooks instead listed some blowhards who have written books. Big difference.) Haven't pundits been drilling it into heads for years that presidential candidates have to be likable and voters have to want to share a beer with White House hopefuls? Who wants to have a beer with a billionaire who won't stop running his mouth?

The idea that voters crave obnoxious loudmouth candidates who flaunt their wealth is a novel one that Brooks concocted in what appears to be an attempt to explain Trump's rise among Republican voters without having to credit his absurd birther cheerleading.

And speaking of birther nonsense, if you want to know why birtherism has suddenly gone mainstream within Republican circles and why the widely debunked and foolish lie about President Obama has been given yet another life among supposedly serious people, look no further than Brooks' column; look no further than how the Times columnist showers acclaim on Trump, despite the fact the billionaire is out pushing a nasty, odious lie about the President of the United States.

That Trump can garner enthusiastic support from pundits like Brooks tells you all you need to know about today's conservative movement and how despite mild displays of concern about the radical birther embrace currently underway, overall the issue is not considered a deal-breaker. In fact, the issue is barely considered at all.

Brook's Trump-cheering column clocked in at 16 paragraphs and it was wasn't until the 15th paragraph that Brooks got around to noting that, oh yeah Trump's birther campaign is kinda crazy. (The topic garnered just one sentence of Brooks' attention.)

Instead of conceding that Trump's noxious claims about Obama have tapped into something ugly within the conservative movement, Brooks pretends voters just love obnoxious loudmouths on the campaign trail and that Trump represents the little guy.

Neither claim is true.

The New York Times
David Brooks
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