David Brooks Lectures Us, The Boy King And Palin On The Art Of Being Weird

At least Fosse’s Cabaret had Joel Grey as MC. How very Splenda. For 2008 we must endure David Brooks’ faux earnestness to tell us:

. . . For candidates, the lesson is: Weirdness Wins . . .

Last winter, Barack Obama succeeded by running a weird campaign. He wasn’t just a normal politician aiming for office, he was going to cleanse the country of the baby-boom culture war mentality . . . But over the course of the spring, Obama’s campaign got less weird . . . [b]ut by campaigning in this traditional way, Obama ceded the weirdness edge to McCain.

The old warrior jumped right in. Think about how weird last week was. The Republican convention was one long protest against the way the Republicans themselves have run Washington. McCain’s convention speech barely mentioned his own party. His vice-presidential nominee came out of the blue and seems totally unlike the regular crowd of former eighth-grade class presidents who normally dominate public life. McCain’s campaign ideology, exemplified in a new ad released on Monday, is not familiar conservatism. It’s maverickism — against the entrenched powers and party orthodoxies.

If I were advising the candidates, I’d tell them to double down on weirdness . . .The candidates probably won’t take this kind of advice. But remember: Weirdness wins. Surprise me most.

That’s it. His finely honed analysis – ‘weird, man.’

Weird that the Warlord is at historic low approval ratings? Weird that Americans desperately want an end to eight years of *incompetent* Christian Socialist Authoritarianism? Weird that almost 80% of Americans think the country is on the wrong track? Weird that we feel all around us the gleeful destruction of the middle class by plutocratic socialism?

Weird that McCain picked someone who was under the national radar but an established superstar within the Movement base? Weird that Americans in early September desperately do want change? Weird that many independent Americans are still unsure of the Boy King’s preparedness to make decisions ‘above his pay grade’? But like 1980 are teetering between uncomfortableness with the inexperienced ‘upstart’ and resigned acceptance of the familiar old warhorse?


Why faux earnestness? Brooks since his earliest career demonstrated a profound facility for (addiction to?) creating proxy images of himself in the media multiverse. Initially he tried to blend his real Neocon persona with that gosh darn, hush puppy ‘reasonableness’ — you know, the nice neighbor inviting you over to watch Field of Dreams in his comfy home theater room. All the more poisonous because of its camouflaged vapors. Getting denounced by El Rushbo for being a weakling only confirms the validity of his posturing.

Here, we see him simply lurch on to a lazy pop culture meme. It’s not even Dowd-esque because she plays to her level. Sure he will get general buzz in law firm lobbies, media green rooms and the like. But should he backtrack and claim ‘sarcasm’, it rings trite and false. Doubly false.

To cut through all his posing, one must realize truly in a Brooksian Bizarro Universe, what precisely is normalcy. Oddly, for example, if he truly meant to focus on the weird, he omitted the one almost universally acknowledged eruption this campaign: the MSNBC-Dynasty-Catfighting. Which proves Hunter’s old adage — ‘When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.’ And Brooks proves yet again his true amateur status.



  1. Anon says

    More liberal incompetence – Wolves are a menace in many rural areas – As are Jags, Mt Lions, and some beares.

    But if you’re gonna make an anti hunting ad, for crying out loud – get pictures of puppies and close up kills.

    Also – Cheney is far more vicious than Palin – He hunts humans.


  2. Anon says

    Reading about the Palin interview – it seems that celeb journalist Gibson (thinks Diane Sawyer is a genius with warp speed mind because she uses a color coding notetaking system) decided not to bother with un-serious non-grownup stuff like asking Palin about her key, well-planned, lie about bridge to no where – This is exactly how Republicans win with small bore lies that are too embrassing for serious journalists tp persue, but are critical to creating a persona (or destroying one a la Gore).
    The Obama people were slow out the gate = he should have defined her in McCain V Palin context and contextualize her being forced to take a new position on the bridge.
    Gibson gets no points for his bitter sneer behind the half-glasses look when asks her about a concept with dubious term-status ie Bush Doctrine – The very phrase Bush Doctrine was created by the Weekly Standard and only used by Bush subsequently – It has shifted too often and Condi undermined it when she used the ‘mushroom cloud’ allusion because that changed the ‘doctrine’ from one of pre-emption to one of attacking before imminent threat

  3. Anon says

    It seems that was a well planned dirty trick – someone got to splice the two speeches to make it seem like he called her a pig and they got to put it on NECN – then it was put on the Globe and now TV stations and bloggers get the splicd tape from the Globe

    At first we thought Obama made a mistake that was intentionally being misunderstood – now it appears there is zero way it could have been misunderstood = The Nagourneys and Tappers were reporting on the splicing.

  4. Anon says

    We missed the interview – But we heard Gibson blew it – Palin intoduced herself to the nation with a direct falsehood (“i said thanks but no thanks …”) and it was her main talking point for two weeks. Yet in a world where Al Gore can be asked to explain things he never said – she was not forced to explain what she loudly and consistantly said. This was the main talking point of her campaign and supposedly Gibson let it slide.
    This is interesting – we are not in New England, but it turns out we saw the same spliced clip on cable and we did not know it was spliced.

  5. Aldershot says

    The most interesting part will be Krauthammer, Kristol, et. al., backpeddling. Or will they?

  6. Aldershot says

    I’m afraid Gov. Palin screwed the pooch tonight during the Gibson interview, but you wouldn’t know it reading some conservative comment boards.

  7. Hunter says

    I get it now… you were saying you didn’t understand the percentage points above 30 that they got, not the baseline ~30+%. Indeed.

  8. Anon says

    “I do have a tremendous amount of faith in John McCain’s integrity. He used to be on the show all the time … I don’t believe he’d sit where you’re sitting and call his opponent or say his opponent called his running mate a pig. I don’t believe he’d say that. So i wonder why his people agreed to do that … This is a claim I don’t think the candidate himself would make.” (Tweety)

    The amazing Tweety – a total narcissist. He is a very weird guy – Btw, the semi-cornpone phrase “lipstick on a pig” is one that we find boring. But Obama should continue to use it now and shove it in their face until he can get the media to switch narratives.

  9. Anon says

    Here’s one small example of Tweety helping Palin and liberals deluding themselves thinking Tweety is helping Obama –

    Basically the viewer sees a very pretty womam in various nice settings repeating a hypnotic mantra 7 times (an auspicious and religious number) –

    Against her is a man of dubious authority who is unclear on his point or if his point is the WSJ’s point – The dubious Tweety’s confusing intro v. Palin’s 7 dishonest but well rendered repeatitions.

  10. Comment says

    Granted this is HuffPo – but this guy is partly right (his a pretty funny guy)

    Our belief is that McCain (or any Repub) would have an advantage because the fraught psychology the GOP has created.

    Neither Adam Nagorney nor Jake Tapper believe there is any merit to what they themselves wrote about pigs and lipstick.
    Years from now they will be telling people to stop whining about minor details – Just like WaPos Jon Weisman now reinvents history and actually imagines attending Bush-Gore debates he never attended just to explain away his and others facination with love canal storis that were invented.

    It’s structural for the media to buy into this – They do not care about any issues really. Maybe some issues – But the campaigns are an abstraction –

    Yes – HRC would hit back harder. She’d have some nasty ads up about McCain that would have McCain crying foul. But in the end the press would follow up with re-loops of Bosia lies and etc – The main difference is that Palin would not have been picked.

    But are main point is that people like Nagourney are sort of inevitable in their actioan and they matter –
    Tweety truly cannot comprehend why he should care about Palin’s lies about bridges – But he’s also the tool who spent a whole year making up stories about Gore that would have been less relevant even if true. We pick Tweety because even when he tried to defend Obama today he added more disinformation.

    The upside – If Obama survives the initial onslaught – the McCain people might face a backlash and be out of ammo later on with the press.

  11. DrLeoStrauss says

    The meltdown since Denver is startling and fascinating at the same time. 55 days left is beyond eternity, but as you note . . . still.

    If the Dems can not win *this* election . . .

  12. Comment says

    We might be wrong – but we think McCain might get some blowback down the line for piggate – It’s just to be a leap – But it was amazing that the BBC, of all places, said matter of factly that the Obama was alluding to Palin’s hockey mom lipstick line – But now with McCains new lurid ads, the Obama campaign have the pretext to go after his character. But they have to start now and so far they are incoherent.

  13. A Random Quote says

    “The evidence that his [Wordsworth] increasing Toryism went hand in hand with the decline of his talent makes it easy to argue, as William Hazlitt did about Wordsworth and the other Lake poets, that “their Jacobin principles indeed gave rise to their Jacobin poetry. Since they gave up the first, their poetical powers have flagged.”

    But this is to mistake the complexity of Wordsworth’s thought, and the motive forces of his best poetry. In fact, Wordsworth’s turn away from politics was responsible for the extraordinary flourishing of his poetry after 1797. What animates his best work is his struggle to transcend the radicalism of his youth, to rescue its benevolent impulses while escaping its shallowness and intolerance. In a sense, Wordsworth’s intellectual trajectory is similar to that of the American Trotskyists of the nineteen-thirties, who became the liberal anti-Communists of the nineteen-fifties.”
    ~Adam Kirch
    New Yorker 12-2005

  14. Anon says

    Biden on debate ; “I won’t take Palin’s bait.”

    He just did and he doesn’t even know it.

  15. Anon says

    Annals of ineffectiveness:

    A number of the so-called oppositional blogs think this is a serious rebuke – As a case study it’s interesting – It’s kinda boring and confusing. A total tool like Goldberg is left unscathed. Lots of verbiage – zero effect

    Obviously the NY times prints Goldberg because they want to promote his views and they like the cagey phony way he presents his ‘arguments.’ His ‘I’m-a-liberal’ pose is a ridiculous distraction , but one must tip one’s hat.

    Have you ever read Goldberg’s travels in Jihadistan? He always finds the too-perfect quote and he always manages to find something that conveys what he wanst to convey – But it’s all taken on trust = Nothing can be reliably confimed – A lot of it sounds dubious.

    But it is sad to see a complete inability to refute him.

  16. A Random Quote says

    ” … haven’t gotten around to reading David Frum’s big inequality piece yet, but I did take a look at his column in The Week, which has some very perceptive things to say about the intersection of class resentment and educational attainment, but also ignores some of the crosscurrents that complicate the picture …”
    ~Ezra Klein
    Liberal Blogger

  17. says


    The 30% comes from Bob Altemeyer. These people would follow the CSA movement even if its leaders ate live, white, babies on live TV.

    It’s the extra 15%+ who prop up McCain that are an indication that the American OODA loop is badly broken.

  18. Comment says

    Obama has to change the subject fast – Big events – He was terrible today reading some prepared statement about Iraq – when the questions came he was fine. But he read some awful statement first that was poorly written and confusing.

  19. Comment says

    Obama’s campaign has been good except since Saddleback (a big mistake) and Biden pick. Biden should STFU about stem cell research – Comment is not a big believer in IQ as comprehensive measurement of intelligence – But one thing is seems sure – Biden prob lacks the IQ to understand anything about stem cell research and he definately does not care more about the health of other peoples children than they do. So he should just be quiet and talk about what he knows about – like jumping on coal piles in Scranton when growing up or pleasing his Pop.

  20. Hunter says

  21. says

    The real weird is why, after 12 years of Reagan-Bushenomics and eight years of essentially fascist governance, the CSA party still wields more than 30% of the electorate. Granted, Obama has run the usual inept Democratic campaign, but in any healthy democracy even a tree stump would out poll the CSA party by now.

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