Friday September 06, 2019
Disliking David Brooks
Here's a killer lede to Jacob Bacharach's review of David Brooks' new book, “The Second Mountain.”
David Brooks is an easy character to dislike. In the wake of the 2000 presidential election, he concocted ethnographies of the habits of conservative voters to tell a story about cultural divisions and the red-blue divide that just so happened to confirm everything his readership already believed. His specialty as a columnist is to identify some just-so failure of the “welfare state” in order to promote the kind of “entrepreneur” whose semi-private innovations are austerity by another name. He loudly supported the war in Iraq. He taught a course on “Humility” at Yale that prominently featured his own works. Although it is his job to interpret the currents of American culture for an audience of millions in the pages of TheNew York Times, he has never been good at looking beyond his own instincts and experience.
A defining experience came when, in 2013, Brooks divorced his first wife, Sarah, and several years later married his much younger research assistant, Anne, whom he met while writing a book called The Road to Character.
Ouch. And truer words. The piece is called “David Brooks's Moral Journey,” and it's often good, but—caveat—there's a lot of Brooks quotes to slog through. I came across it because Brooks wrote another idiot column for the Times today that trended on Twitter, and which I didn't read because I have work to do.