Spiking the Football with David Brooks

What kind of politics writer can't even use a sports metaphor properly? Most of them, actually.
Share |
The secret to effective fatuity is staying hydrated.

Screencap via CharlieRose.com. Brooks/Lin photoshop by Sorry Your Heinous.

Those of us who write thousands of words a week in order to make hundreds of dollars will always have some sort of Hatorade-saturated issue or other with New York Times columnist David Brooks, who writes hundreds of words a week and makes millions of dollars a year either despite or specifically because he has more or less no idea what he's talking about. This is doubly impressive because of the way in which Brooks, who is both the opposite of a public intellectual and vexingly one of our best-known public intellectuals, manages to be incorrect and avuncularly over-certain across the entire range of American interests. Whether he's bringing a spork to a gunfight in his argument with Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman about economics or making up names for new and salient types of imaginary rich people in books for finance dads or riffing oddly on Jeremy Lin, religion and sports six minutes before his deadline, Brooks brings a hilariously evenhanded bias to his work. He is dedicated to consensus and reasonable-ness, which is admittedly a better quality in an op-ed columnist than being dedicated to chaos and murder. But he also does not live in the world as it actually exists—his is a world of Interesting New Studies and butter-soft leather furniture—which gives him some amusingly/saddeningly skewed ideas as to what consensus and reasonable-ness actually are.

Brooks is generally informed in the same way that someone who reads both the abstracts of think-tank white papers and Politico is informed, but also absolutely and fantastically cosseted and privilege-bound in a way that would barely have been imaginable even a couple of generations ago. He is the sort of wealthy person who has very detailed ideas about a mostly imagined American Yeomanry; he is a wealthy person with a very easy job and some not-very-unique ideas about "saving" public schools and making businesses More Competitive; he is sad that Some Are Not Comfortable With How Complicated The World Is, which is a nice way of saying he thinks we should get rid of Social Security; he comes up with piquant new names for narrow-to-nonexistent tranches of an already vanishingly small American elite, to and for the delight of that elite. If he has ever talked with an actual contemporary human being at any time, it is not necessarily evident in his work. So of course this is the guy to talk to about ESPN.

To be fair, Brooks's World Wide Leader moment is not the main thrust of his most recent column, most of which is typically Brooks-ian in providing a sane, hugely distanced gloss on Some Surprising New Polls and the poll-tested semi-fact that many Americans like/approve-of President Obama despite not necessarily liking or approving of his policies. There are many places to go from there, with the most helpful and least Brooks-ian being an explanation of how and why those policies are and aren't understood and the massively easier and more Brooks-ian being a riff on political tone and style. Just as surely as Maureen Dowd would respond to this same challenge by writing about Obama's gray hairs or his suit and then dust off a Queer Eye for the Straight Guy joke, Brooks takes the latter route. It runs all the way, for some reason, to Bristol.

The secret to [Obama's] popularity through hard times is that he is not melodramatic, sensitive, vulnerable and changeable. Instead, he is self-disciplined, traditional and a bit formal. He is willing, with drones and other mechanisms, to use lethal force. Normally, presidents look weak during periods of economic stagnation, overwhelmed by events. But Obama has displayed a kind of ESPN masculinity: postfeminist in his values, but also thoroughly traditional in style—hypercompetitive, restrained, not given to self-doubt, rarely self-indulgent.

This seems like a throwaway, if also and admittedly a very weird one; the headline on the piece is "The ESPN Man," but Brooks doesn't write his own headlines and that is the only mention of the WWL in the piece. Which is probably a good thing, if only because someone who defines "ESPN masculinity" as "a version of manliness that is postboomer in policy but preboomer in manners and reticence" or as he did in the quoted bit above really shouldn't be told about such reticent postfeminist restraint-exercisers as Colin Cowherd or Skip Bayless or Chris Berman. This is leaving aside the idea that there is a vision of manliness that involves healthcare policy, which would seem to be the place to leave that idea. Very far aside. Near the garbage can. Just... yeah, there. That's great.

As Elspeth Reeve points out at the Atlantic Wire, Brooks's comparison fits within political journalism's broader continuum of dumb sports-y metaphorizing. And that, beyond Brooks's self-defeating tendency to taxonomize everything and stick a MAN on the end of it—his last book is partially an examination of Davos Man, which is just not at all a person or thing that exists—probably explains this particular Bristolward reach. I guess. But it doesn't quite explain how and why it was so doomed, and is so off.

It's astonishing, given the evident latitude afforded to columnists like Brooks and given how actually interesting the non-electoral aspects of governing a totally insane and ungovernable and wonderful nation like ours actually is, how dull and poor and lifeless most political opinion writing is. That general grinding insipidity—that no one is trying to write beautifully or distinctively, or apparently think in a direction beyond the know-nothing knowingness of "savvy" or glib contrarian provocation—goes a long way towards explaining the consistent presence of oof-y sports appropriations in this sort of piece. Of course it's difficult to incorporate a part of the actual human discourse as we live in it into something so formalized, routinized and wildly artificial.

But, more than it just being lousy writing, there is a distinct and depressing sense of distance that comes with reading all these dialed-in, spiritually be-khaki'ed D.C. types writing themselves in circles about Obama "spiking the football" or "punting" or whatever. It's not just that these sports metaphor is often the only living image in a waste of off-brand snark and to-be-sure equivocation and flatlined evenhandedness, although that is indeed a bummer. It's that the inevitably and invariably off-key sports stuff brings home just how far from regular human idiom the elite political conversation is pitched; this one thing that can be talked about, more or less well, by people all across the spectrum of class and race and lived experience and political and sexual orientation is somehow thoroughly beyond so many who write about politics. Horserace politics writing is not any more interesting or searching than the average knocked-out-on-deadline AP game story, but that aspect of it—certainly much more than anything on the vexing and fascinating process of actual governing, or on how our actual discourse turns such that something like marriage equality can go in a decade from a political impossibility to a fait accompli—mostly dominates the field. To use a sports metaphor of my own, the people who write about politics seem to be the sort of people who talk a lot about Wins and RBIs, because that's what matters. This isn't just a boring conversation, it's a supremely proscribed and narrow one.

That David Brooks doesn't know who or what ESPN even is, finally, is probably David Brooks's fault and definitely his choice. That President Obama actually reads and respects a hapless, overprivileged foof like David Brooks and that he's far from alone in that, is the real pity. That and the apparent fact that Brooks, in researching his column, did not somehow happen to spend a few minutes watching John Kruk. That might've been good for him.


Share |

Comments

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand.
website opener

Instead of purchasing new items to decorate your home with, consider re-purposing items that you already have. Just because a pillow looks dingy or your couch looks dirty, a bit of fabric and a new couch cover can work wonders. Purchase decorative items from yard sales and thrift stores. There are truly unique items out there for a fraction of the cost of what a new one would cost. Wakefield Painting Systems P/L

No wonder why you receive countless of feedbacks.

depression counselling

If he has ever talked with an actual contemporary human being at any time, it is not necessarily evident in his work. So of course this is the guy to talk to about ESPN.. taxi in ajmer

This post is really valuable that designed for the new visitors. Pleasing work. Salvia Extract

Thanks for the entire information you have given here to impart knowledge amongst us?

opulence for life

Yes i am completely concurred with this article and i simply need say this article is exceptionally pleasant and extremely useful article.I will make a point to be perusing High Trust Flow Backlinks

Your website is terribly informative and your articles are wonderful.Philips Norelco 1160x Review

That’s really amazing and extraordinary blogs & can help those who get issues in searching this type of information.
http://www.theopulenceforlife.com

Every day I visit a number of blog sites to see content, however this offers quality based content buy bulk email accounts

Every day I visit a number of blog sites to see content, however this offers quality based content buy bulk email accounts

the people who write about politics seem to be the sort of people who talk a lot about Wins and RBIs, because that's what matters. This isn't just a boring conversation, it's a supremely proscribed and narrow one.
hacks for clash of clans

Awesome blog. I enjoyed reading your articles. This is truly a great read for me. I have bookmarked it and I am looking forward to reading new articles. Keep up the good work! Page authority

Great! We will be connecting to this enormous post on our site. Continue the good writing.. DDOS Protection

Dental health is always important and protecting teeth early is not only a good idea for the overall dental health in and of itself, but it also sets a great example that helps people learn the habit of good care from a young age. That lesson alone is worth passing on. Smile design blog

Check your exam boards website and you should find a gcse vocabular list Mortgage Information

Great! We will be connecting to this enormous post on our site. Continue the good writing.
easy online payday loans

Your contents are too straightforward to browse and easy to understand.million dollar business secrets bonus

our blogs and its stuff are so notable and worthwhile it can make me return.
how to get discounts on car insurance

Your website is terribly informative and your articles are wonderful. Virtual Ceo Lifestyle

Your website is terribly informative and your articles are wonderful.anik singal

Every day I visit a number of blog sites to see content, however this offers quality based content.www.carinsurancerates.com

This is an extraordinary post. I like this topic.This site has heaps of advantage.I discovered numerous fascinating things from this site. It helps me in numerous ways.Thanks for posting this once more. click here for detail

Welcome To Our Ibiza Escorts Agency. Palma Babes would like to give you a warm welcome to our very established and trusted escorting . Pure Slim Cleanse

Your post.Its full of information I am looking for and I love to post a comment that "The content of your post is awesome" Great work club flyer promo code

I thought haven’t read such distinctive material anywhere else on-line.

This post is really valuable that designed for the new visitors. Pleasing work, keep on writing. jaipur to delhi cab booking

You bear through a awesome vacancy. I sanity definitely quarry it moreover personally suggest to my buddys. I am self-possessed they determination be benefited from this scene Los Angeles DUI Defense Lawyer

You practitioners remarkably typically great effortless past experiences. Nowadays follow this upload images to instagram from pc

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up... scary videos

Personally I think overjoyed I discovered the blogs.club flyer

We are here to provide Internet Marketing services and help people. We offer High PR Backlinks. packers and movers hadapsar pune

Workers.We are here to provide Internet Marketing services and help people. We offer High PR Backlinks. 55Print

This post is really valuable that designed for the new visitors. Pleasing work, keep on writing.sales bootcamp

I am confident you've got a great enthusiast following there.car and home insurance bundles

Nice answers in replace of the question with real point of view and explaining about that.
Football Goals For The Garden

You create sense out of the foremost complex topics. http://bestreviewscenter.com/antigone-by-sophocles/23/

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work. 55printing

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up.
pure garcinia cambogia

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work... Hangtags Printing

Welcome To Our Ibiza Escorts Agency. Palma Babes would like to give you a warm welcome to our very established and trusted escorting agency which is founded in the very beautiful and warm country of Spain,Salvia Extract

You will find a lot of approaches after visiting your post. I was exactly searching for. Thanks for such post and please keep it up. Great work...Window Cling Printing at Printing VIP

piquant new names for narrow-to-nonexistent tranches of an already vanishingly small American elite, to and for the delight of that elite. If he has ever talked with an actual contemporary human being at any time, it is not necessarily evident in his work. So of course this is the guy to talk to about ESPN.
leads tunnel

This blog Info is fabulous; I must wanna see best more from your writers. payday

I have got the superb information from these blogs finally. Orlando roof repair

Great info! I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don’t know what to say except that I have. bussniess cards

Your blogs are easily accessible and quite enlightening so keep doing the amazing work guys. garcinia cambogia reviews

It’s amazing to visit again n again coming to your blogs the superb effort is here. skywalker hoverboard reviews

Your blogs are easily accessible and quite enlightening so keep doing the amazing work guys. fat diminisher system