Skip to comments.Conservatives and Creeds
Posted on 10/08/2007 4:51:05 PM PDT by nosofar
David Brooks is a national treasure. He is perhaps our most gifted spotter of trends, and his pop-sociology seems moved by a genuine curiosity, and so is often blissfully immune from the draw of familiar categories and conventional wisdom. He has taught us more about the life of the contemporary middle class than anyone, and most weeks he is the only reason to read the New York Times.
But as a spotter of trends, Brooks is also a generalizer, and tends to advance a simple, coherent, well packaged aphorism as an explanation for large events and ideas. It is the columnists fate, of course, but this tendency to push a clever observation to its breaking point does have its shortcomings. Sometimes the conceit just breaks. And Brookss column in todays New York Times (generously entitled The Republican Collapse by the Timess editors) is an example.
(Excerpt) Read more at article.nationalreview.com ...
I read it as "He has taught us more about the life of the contemporary middle class than anyone, and most weeks he is the only person to read the New York Times." and was rolling on the floor.
"American conservatism is, in other words, a coalition. Each of the camps that constitute it has its own strengths and weaknesses, to be sure. And there is no question that some peculiar combinations of these camps like President Bushs highly creedal democracy rhetoric, which is part social conservative, part neoconservative can rub particularly temperamental conservatives the wrong way. But the coalition as a whole, with its parts pushing this way and that, seeks in the end to advance the causes of both freedom and tradition, of both the family and the market. These causes are in tension, as Brooks also notes, and the tension is often constructive but not always so."
"But coalition politics is the way to advance any cause, and it has been an effective way to advance the Burkean cause of American conservatives: the cause of practical progress bounded by both principle and prudence. Serious political coalitions are always fractious and complicated, but they are essential too, as Burke himself teaches better than anyone. No men could act with effect who did not act in concert, Burke says, and acting with effect in politics is more important than an utter purity of principle or disposition. Those involved in political life, Burke wrote, must be fully persuaded that all virtue which is impracticable is spurious; and rather to run the risk of falling into faults in a course which leads us to act with effect and energy than to loiter out our days without blame, and without use.
"Brooks is right, I think, to argue that conservatives are somewhat adrift these days, and that voters have noticed. But by too strictly separating temperament and creed, Brooks forces himself to choose one as diagnosis for the ailment. In fact, American conservatives are temperamental conservatives of creed, and we lose our way when we lose sight of both. We have done that in some respects in recent years. But we are prudent enough, surely, to learn from a mistake. We have not strayed as far as Brooks suggests, and we know the way back: To reconnect with both our prudent moderating temperament and our creeds of liberty and virtue and so to reconnect with the American voter."
Stopped reading right there, and skimmed the rest. Even Democrat Camille Pagila is a better, funnier writer and more perceptive than Brooks. Get off those kneepads Yuval, it's making me sick.
How does Brooks throwing Glenn Beck under the bus help build the conservative coalition?
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