Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Today's political rant

What is it about David Brooks that pisses me off? Could it be nothing more than his tight retentive smile? I think it's more than that. He is fond of implying that he has his sources (whose names, presumably, not even a grand jury could force him to reveal) among the American yeomanry, such that he can write on their behalf--yet he himself is not, as far as I know, likely to ever need his social security to pay for groceries in his retirement years. I'll bet no one has ever seen Brooks renting a U-Haul trailer to move to a new and cheaper apartment at the end of the month.
In other words, unlike Judith Miller, he is not embedded with his sources. And who can quarrel with that? I guess it's just the presentation that bothers me.

Today Brooks has a column saying, gosh, the Republicans sure overreached on social security, but, gee, the Democrats should get over this hatred thing and offer a reasonable compromise. Yeah. Sure. Like, someone wants to shoot you in the head, and Joe Lieberman, a Brooks kind of Democrat, sez, why don't we shoot you in the heart instead. Thanks for offering, Joe.

Brooks's basic schtick is that liberals are elitists claiming "moral superiority", who condescend to ordinary Americans, or at least so his sources tell him.

Now if we back up, take a deep breath, and actually think for a few moments, we will remember that Brooks's own man George W. Bush is the great-grandson of Samuel Prescott Bush, who, besides being a steel magnate of vast wealth and the first president of the National Manufacturer's Association, was a family friend of the Rockefellers and the Harrimans and an advisor to President Herbert Hoover. Dubya is also the grandson of the enormously wealthy banker and Connecticut senator Prescott Bush, who attended Yale and was there a member of Skull and Bones, said by some to be an elite society. Brooks's man Dubya is the son of George Herbert Walker Bush, who attended Phillips Andover and Yale and was also a member of Skull and Bones before going on to a political career in Texas and, of course, the presidency. Finally, Dubya himself attended Phillips and Yale, not necessarily through his own merits, and was himself, surprise, inducted into the Skull and Bones Society, for reasons that are secret. A man of the people, as we see.

Unlike David Brooks, I live in a red state. Yet, I'm a liberal. How can that be? I grew up in Texas, and have lived much of my life here. During the 2nd World War, when I was a little boy, my grandfather would let me hold on to the handle of the plow pulled by two mules as he directed the plowing. We lived on a farm in South Texas. Our house was made out of adobe and had a dirt floor. We got our water from a hand-dug well, and we had an outhouse to shit in. We only got electricity on the farm--hats off to the Rural Electrification Administration--toward the end of the War.

I must have gotten a dose of the rural populism, once widespread in the South, that Brooks's secret sources didn't tell him about.

So in any case I went to college in 1959--maybe the problem was education--and quickly became a an activist in anti-segregation demonstrations, then soon enough a little bit beyond liberal, and by the end of the 60s a full-tilt revolutionary socialist. Though I have long since mostly reverted to the sanity of mild liberalism, I believe to this day, in my heart, that my utopian values of giving ordinary people a fair deal, including good value for their taxes, do not include letting the elderly forage in dumpsters if their private accounts have worked out badly. Self interest, perhaps, since I am approaching an age that could be called elderly, myself.

The point of this is meandering diatribe is that nowhere in this fairly typical southern liberal trajectory--for a southern liberal of my generation at least-- is any habit of condescending to people who have to shop at Walmart. I know, from experience, that most of them (us, actually) would be perfectly happy to buy better stuff, and buy it in stores less renowned for screwing their own hired help than Walmart, if they could afford it. One wonders when was the last time Brooks bought a cheap pair of shoes made in China at a big box store.

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