Sunday, November 18, 2007

David Brooks defense of Reagan annihilated

Reagan speaking at the Neshoba County fair in 1980.
Image from the Neshoba County Fair website.

David Brooks recently penned a column in which he claimed that Reagan mentioning "state's rights" in a speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi (site of three infamous murders of civil rights workers) was not a coded appeal to racists:
Still, the agitprop version of this week — that Reagan opened his campaign with an appeal to racism — is a distortion, as honest investigators ranging from Bruce Bartlett, who worked for the Reagan administration and is the author of “Impostor: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy,” to Kevin Drum, who writes for Washington Monthly, have concluded.
Well I don't know about Bartlett, Kevin Drum doesn't exactly exonerate Reagan. Indeed, he calls Reagan's speech "a genuine blight on his record" and says Reagan deserves criticism for it and that Reagan's civil rights record was "pretty abominable". Drum just makes the point that Dukakis also shaded his language to appeal to white racists when campaigning in the same place 8 years later (Dukakis did so by not explicitly mentioning the murders, even though his speech was 24 years to the day after the bodies were found.)

Well, Brooks' attempted whitewashing (ha ha ha) of Reagan drew some pretty fierce criticism from both bloggers and the mainstream media. His fellow NYT columnists Paul Krugman and Bob Herbert both savaged him, though neither mentioned Brooks by name. For real , direct anti-Brooks invective, you gotta go to the blogosphere. Via Crooks and Liars, here's driftglass on why David "Bobo" Brooks felt compelled to defend Reagan's indefensible racist appeal:
What is at stake for David Brooks is not the validity of some quarter-century-old quote by Ronald Reagan, but Bobo’s very own tribal identity.

His back-stage, hologram-stamped laminates to the Big Freeper Jamboree.

Long ago Bobo went all-in on his Great Imaginary Conservative Revolution. And now, while he desperately clings to his self image as a tolerant and reasonable person, his ideology and chosen profession have left him literally nowhere else to go but deeper into the pit, shackled at the throat by chains of his own forging to the scum of the nation.

Which is why he can only bear to sneak little glimpses of his fetid political bunkmates as he scurries past them in the dark; can only bear to catching tiny terrifying glances of their squirmy, bestial bulk in the blastlight of occasional, startling flashes of illumination, like Katrina and Abu Ghraib.

And so what we see in Bobo’s column is a deep-dive into the dangerously self-deluded mind of one of the last, faux-reasonable Defenders of the Faith, torqued almost to the breaking point.

A man whose livelihood depends entirely on sustaining a state of utter denial about what his livelihood actually depends on.
Driftglass has four posts on this subject. The first is here.

Republicans need to jettison racism and homophobia if I'm ever going to take them seriously as a party, or view them as anything other than an enormous obstacle to American progress. If only for reasons political demographics, Republicans need to dump these forms of hate.

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