I Hate To Admit It But Donald Trump And David Brooks Are Right About Each Other

Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Brooks caricature by  Andrew Russeth https://goo.gl/kZZQYG; Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K
Source: Flickr Creative Commons. Brooks caricature by Andrew Russeth https://goo.gl/kZZQYG; Trump caricature by DonkeyHotey flic.kr/p/Ct4G4K

On Friday, David Brooks wrote an opinion piece in the New York Times that seemed designed not to convince anyone but the previously convinced about Trump’s unfitness to be president. A sampling:

Donald Trump is epically unprepared to be president. He has no realistic policies, no advisers, no capacity to learn. His vast narcissism makes him a closed fortress. He doesn’t know what he doesn’t know and he’s uninterested in finding out. He insults the office Abraham Lincoln once occupied by running for it with less preparation than most of us would undertake to buy a sofa.

Trump is perhaps the most dishonest person to run for high office in our lifetimes. All politicians stretch the truth, but Trump has a steady obliviousness to accuracy.

Donald Trump is an affront to basic standards of honesty, virtue and citizenship. He pollutes the atmosphere in which our children are raised. He has already shredded the unspoken rules of political civility that make conversation possible. In his savage regime, public life is just a dog-eat-dog war of all against all.

True. All of it. Every single word.

Trump fired back in the trademark style that seemed designed to prove Brooks’s point:

Again. True. Every last participle. There is an immense body of evidence that Brooks is a poseur who cannot differentiate between glibness and intelligence, a tiny intellect that would rather be liked by the right people than anything else. A man whose intellect would drown and be hidden forever if it fell into a half-filled Dixie cup. Let’s recall David Brooks’s role in pimping Barack Obama to the GOP establishment:

In the spring of 2005, New York Times columnist David Brooks arrived at then-Senator Barack Obama’s office for a chat. Brooks, a conservative writer who joined the Times in 2003 from The Weekly Standard, had never met Obama before. But, as they chewed over the finer points of Edmund Burke, it didn’t take long for the two men to click. “I don’t want to sound like I’m bragging,” Brooks recently told me, “but usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me.”

That first encounter is still vivid in Brooks’s mind. “I remember distinctly an image of–we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant,” Brooks says, “and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” In the fall of 2006, two days after Obama’s The Audacity of Hope hit bookstores, Brooks published a glowing Times column. The headline was “Run, Barack, Run.”

Brooks, in fact, was wrong, terribly wrong, about everything concerning Obama. There is not now, and never has been, any evidence that Obama was intelligent rather than clever and facile. Like the Donald Trump that Brooks describes, Obama was dangerously unprepared to be president. He has attracted the same mediocre intellects that a Trump administration would attract. He has engaged in race baiting (“the police acted stupidly”, “if I had a son he would look like Trayvon”) as a freakin sport. Obama has set out to devastate the US economy and to reduce it from world power to laughingstock.

But in this case, I find myself agreeing with both Trump and Brooks. And it leaves me feeling more than a little uneasy about the future.