How long has this been going on?

July 29, 2011 by barbara

barbara writes

I was chatting with LeftyMN this morning about the emerging, relative sanity of Republican pundit David Brooks. After today’s Paul Krugman column, the NYTimes noted: “David Brooks is off today.” It was an open invitation, but I paused, mid-snark.

Over time, I’ve had published a few letters in the NYTimes about Brooks, with whom I historically take issue. Fundamentally, we will never agree, David and I. But as I said to Lefty, Brooks (like Krugman) seems to think, ponder and then speak – a radical difference from the radical right’s reflexive spewing.

Here’s what Lefty has to say about this:

Brooks represents what a large portion of the Republican party was prior to 1970.

For all intents and purposes his ilk (intelligent, moderate, but certainly filled with noblesse oblige) are marginalized in the party. They share the strain of low taxes and unfettered regulation that allows them to live.

A very nice life indeed…. But the party has essentially become (as Wege notes) the Southern Democratic party that existed prior to 1970. Now in bed with the Know-Nothings of the Tea Party who are essentially the radical states rights-libertarian, up with the bootstraps, nativist real American group that has been with us since the 1700s.

They trace their ancestry back before Shay’s Rebellion but essentially they are the heirs of the Scotch/Irish protestant western settlers of the 17th, 18th and early to mid 19th centuries. They thrive like hothouse tomatoes under the 24 hour news cycle and offerings of cable tv and the unlimited internet.

A friend said in response to this that it is the media making the extremist credible that has created the problem. And for this, I think historically it is cable tv and the internet to blame… if you think back to pre 1965-70, neither the John Birchers nor the radical leftists were given credibility by anyone and certainly not within the two major parties.

It was Nixon’s Southern Strategy and the cable tv news phenomenon that changed things, in my opinion.

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Jean T. (not verified) | July 29, 2011 - 7:33pm

Ah, David Brooks. Sometimes even often I do not agree with his views--- but I always respect him. He is not rigid nor uninformed nor unwilling to compromise. I consider him one of the most reasonable conservative voices around. He is more conservative than I by quite a tad but he is willing to give credit when credit is due and he is a reasonable human being and, I think, a good human being. I think we do need more than one point of view and I am happy to have Brooks representing the conservative viewpoint rather than a bunch of uninformed T party politicians who apparently do not have the word "common good" in their vocabulary. Whether we agree with him or not David Brooks is, I am convinced, concerned for the common good.


Soo (not verified) | August 5, 2011 - 9:37am

Brooks can be maddeningly one-off. I'll be reading along thinking, Yes, hmmm, well, maybe, okay good point . . . and then he'll come to a totally contrary conclusion to where I thought he was going. But the look on his face, his sputtering head-shaking after Bobby Jindahl's infamous response to Obama's first (I think) SOU, was one of my favorite TV moments ever.
I'm not sure about Nixon's southern strategy, but I agree 100% that the 24-hour cable news cycle has played a huge part in the neo-idiocy of the American people. During the Vietnam war there were just three major networks -- and yes, they went along with a lot of government bunk -- but most of our news came through those relatively unbiased, or at least civil, portals. So when Walter Conkrite began to show disgust and then outrage at the idiocy of that war, it held a lot of sway with his viewers.
Today almost all "news" is delivered with either a wink-wink coyness (as in, we all know better than to believe this jackass), overt cynicism (politicians are all idiots, except the ones who aren't and they're, sneer, the elites) or over-the-top outrage. (Olberman et al) So, we all tune out the yammering and search out those who are going to at least yammer about the things we believe to be true. Plus, the big three had about a half-hour to fill, actually 20 minutes, so while the news was abbreviated, it rarely featured murdering moms and celebrity addictions ad nauseum. It's a hell of a world we've created.
And while I'm on the topic -- and on coffee -- a word or two about PBS. If you watch the News Hour, Lehrer has that same calm anchor quality that Cronkite had, and almost all of their stories include a discussion among two or three experts (decidedly non-telegenic) from different perspectives. It really does seem to be trying to be fair and balanced, and it's the one the conservatives want to do away with. Natch.
When Bill Moyers was in town, he commented that the intended audience for the commercial stations is the consumer, while the intended audience for PBS is the citizen.
The former is a market that's growing exponentially (Go shopping!) and the latter, alas, is shrinking.


barbara | August 7, 2011 - 3:09pm

Most of all, I'm missing Bill Moyers. So, yeah, Moyers and Lehrer. Citizen journalists vs. shills for the buying masses. Fah.