Thursday, October 09, 2008

David Brooks and Mediocrity

David Brooks on Gov. Palin:

You know, she’s not stupid. So, I think she’ll be mediocre. She will rise to the level of mediocrity.

Mediocrity. That’s the preview that political wisdom and the media gave for Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Reagan was supposed to be a nice, but rather dumb guy with an attractive face and winning public manner. A man who could rise to the level of mediocrity as a president.

Well, Gov. Palin has already risen far above mediocre as governor of Alaska. Taking down corrupt powerful political figures in one’s own party is something only the best of political leaders have succeeded at. (How many even of our greatest presidents have done that?) Negotiating with powerful oil companies and winning concessions is also something few politicians have done. But, Sarah Palin has succeeded at those and more.

So, in what respect is Gov. Palin mediocre? Brooks never defines his terms, so one is left to guess at what he thinks qualifies someone as being mediocre.

One has to feel sorry for Brooks. His job is to be the house conservative at the New York Times and win a hearing for conservative thought there. Though it may be too much to ask that Times’ stories and editorials might be more open to a conservative viewpoint because of Brooks, one can’t even say he has brought in new readers or retained old ones. Readers are slipping away at a pretty good clip.

Brooks’ success has not come not in winning arguments or minds in a liberal bastion (with wit and grace à la William F. Buckley, Jr.). Rather Brooks’ utility comes in contexts like the You Tube clip linked above.

Brooks sits around with liberal commentators and trashes conservatives who are on the political front lines. No one in the group is swayed toward conservative principles. And, in fact, no conservative principles are shared. Nothing about the proper role of government. Not even about the dangers of the liberal policies of Senators Obama and Biden. Nothing here about conservative principles from David Brooks. Just a few ad hominem slashes against a conservative with an impressive political record.

What a sad showing for a conservative commentator–who might do well to aim at analysis which rises to the level of mediocrity in having at least “moderate value.”


OregonGuy said...

Gosh! I never knew Mr. Brooks was so nuanced. He can nuance at a level I can only hope to glimpse. His nuance exceeds the expected level of nuance held by the average guy...perhaps as an average guy, we can only have average nuance.

Imagine sub-par nuance. Or, a total lack of nuance. That is to say, being plain spoken. Clear. Elegant in ones speech.


Nah. Let's rely upon nuance.

T. D. said...

Clarity is especially hard when you have nothing to back your point up with.

Thanks for the comment.