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Bloody Cheerleaders

It's been a while since I've picked on David Brooks (mostly because they locked him and all the NYT op-ed columnists behind a pay-to-read firewall) but I think he fits in nicely with a theme I've been looking at lately, the tendency of bad analysis to keep appearing from the same bad sources (link).

In his latest column about Barack Obama, New York Times columnist David Brooks offered his prediction of what the next Commander in Chief will face:

Over the next four years, the world could face a genocidal civil war in Iraq, a wave of nuclear proliferation, more Islamic extremism and a demagogues’ revolt against globalization.

For years he has been predicting victory in Iraq and minimizing the possibility of civil war. While I don't think he wants that bad stuff to come to pass, it is notable that he reserves his most realistic assessment in a rare column about a Democrat. The fact is, he has a history of making predictions that line up perfectly with his fondest wishes.

After a nice sampling of Brooks' ignorance about Iraq, the author closes with
I suppose all of this would be funnier if an influential columnist was wrong about the NBA Finals, but Brooks has been a cheerleader for war and stenographer for the Bush team. So having him here in Madison fetching coffee would have other benefits.

Couldn't have said it better myself. Brooks is an influential voice, writing for an influential page. These people set, for better or worse, the conventional wisdom for political and media elites. Yet so frequently, they have no idea what they're talking about (Exhibit A, Tom Friedman). Their ignorance is passed along to other news orgs and before you know it, something false is being presented as true. For trivial matters like sports and "American Idol", this is fine. But we're talking about war and fucking peace here. People have died--many people--in part because of the predictions and cheerleading of people like David Brooks. It might seem a stretch to connect a roadside bomb blowing up a GI in Iraq to a pampered NYT columnist, but you have to think back to late 2002, early 2003. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld were selling bullshit. Pure bullshit. So they perfumed that bullshit by sending Colin Powell to the UN. Influential news sources, for their part, perfumed the bullshit by picking up their pom-poms and urging the nation to "do something" in Iraq. And Bush played the part of the reluctant commander-in-chief, called upon by his nation to fight the good fight. All along this is what the White House wanted. And those voices of dissent--who were right all along--were treated like treasonous vermin. So let me be clear: People like David Brooks have blood on their hands. They can either ignore this or apologize for it.

BTW, there's plenty of blame to be passed around on this, lots of blood on lots on hands. I like singling David Brooks out because he portrays himself as reasonable when in reality he's contemptible.


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