David Brooks Is Not Onboard With the New Obama

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David Brooks: Ruining our weather? Photo: Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images

The view outside your window right now is just about equivalent to the current emotional state of New York Times columnist David Brooks. We're not suggesting that Brooks's mood has some kind of supernatural influence over the weather — although we're also not not suggesting that. Draw your own conclusions.

But Brooks, who has long been one of the only voices on the right with any hope invested in President Obama's efforts to pursue an aisle-crossing, outstretched-hand kind of politics, dares to dream no longer. Now that Obama has decided to focus, as Intel Jonathan wrote yesterday, on winning a public relations victory rather than a legislative victory, Brooks is beating himself up for ever believing in Obama in the first place:


I’m a sap, a specific kind of sap. I’m an Obama Sap.

When the president said the unemployed couldn’t wait 14 more months for help and we had to do something right away, I believed him. When administration officials called around saying that the possibility of a double-dip recession was horrifyingly real and that it would be irresponsible not to come up with a package that could pass right away, I believed them.

I liked Obama’s payroll tax cut ideas and urged Republicans to play along. But of course I’m a sap. When the president unveiled the second half of his stimulus it became clear that this package has nothing to do with helping people right away or averting a double dip. This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill.

It recycles ideas that couldn’t get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress. In his remarks Monday the president didn’t try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures. He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives....

This wasn’t a speech to get something done. This was the sort of speech that sounded better when Ted Kennedy was delivering it. The result is that we will get neither short-term stimulus nor long-term debt reduction anytime soon, and I’m a sap for thinking it was possible.

What Brooks seems to be ignoring is that bi-partisanship doesn't work if only one side is interested in participating. Obama has tried. It failed. At some point, banking on compromise with the GOP is, well, something only a sap would do.

Obama Rejects Obamaism [NYT]