brooksisadork

Saturday, October 30, 2004

Those pesky litmus tests

And so we have come full cycle: Brooks today is back in pompously tautological, it-is-thus-as-it-hath-never-been, universal common-sense pronouncements mode, with a column entitled "The Osama Litmus Test" regarding, you guessed it, today's OBL videotape. Brooks's enlightened analysis? Well, it goes something like this: "This proves Osama Bin Laden is not a nuisance! Contrary to the malicious distortion of John Kerry's views which I have just implied, without actually stating."

It's something of a relief to see that after a series of columns in which he showed off his mildly perceptive side, Brooks today is back to raving idiot mode. The column today is so weird that it takes some effort to try and figure out exactly what Brooks is saying, if anything. But let's at least give it a try.

Essentially, Brooks is arguing that because Osama Bin Laden released a videotape in which he said a bunch of nasty things about the United States and bragged, yet again, about having caught the US Government napping on 9/11...geez, I just got stuck again. I started the sentence with "because", and now I'm supposed to follow with the "thus" part of the statement, but I just find it really hard to figure out what the hell Brooks is trying to say. As near as I can figure it, this is the idea: we saw OBL on TV, and he looked like a very, very bad man. And the most important thing about our future president is that he prove to us that, "deep in his gut" (YUCK! Can we declare a freaking moratorium on use of the intestinal tract in political rhetoric? I'm gonna get a perforation here!), he understands just how bad a man OBL is.

Aside from scheduling an appearance on the Daily Show to dismember a realistic blood-spurting OBL life-sized doll with a sharpened crowbar, I am not sure how much more either candidate can do to reinforce the American people's confidence in the sincerity of their OBL-loathing. I also do not see what in God's name this has to do with the question of which candidate will make a better president. It seems to me that to elect someone based on their demonstration of the deepness of their hatred of America's enemies (regardless of whether or not they can accurately identify those enemies) is a good way to wind up with, say, Alan Keyes as president. Brooks:

"Remember when John Kerry told Matt Bai of The Times Magazine that he wanted to reduce the terrorists to a nuisance? Kerry vowed to mitigate the problem of terrorism until it became another regrettable and tolerable fact of life, like gambling, organized crime and prostitution."

And? Is there anyone in the US who would object to reducing terrorism to the state where it was no more bothersome than gambling, organized crime and prostitution? Incidentally, 2 out of 3 of those items are seen as top-flight entertainment by a significant percentage of Americans, rather than as regrettable facts of life. Maybe all 3, if you count "The Sopranos". Careful, David - you've already lost New Jersey, you don't want to lose Nevada too.

"Well, the Osama bin Laden we saw last night was not a problem that needs to be mitigated."

He wasn't? I do not understand what you are saying. The problem of terrorism does not need to be mitigated? Terrorism is just fine? I am not trying to be cute, here. Brooks is saying one of two things: either that terrorism is just fine, or that it doesn't need to be mitigated - it needs to be entirely eradicated. But he never comes out and says the latter, because if he did he'd get himself into a quandary: like everybody else, George W. Bush included, he knows terrorism can't actually be entirely eradicated. It can only be...mitigated. But then he'd have no article.

"He was not the leader of a movement that can be reduced to a nuisance."

I don't know what he is saying here. This is a negative proposition which is clearly intended to lead to some positive proposition, but I cannot figure out what the positive proposition will be. The best guess is that it should be something like "He is instead the leader of a movement that..." What? Nothing there. Brooks doesn't actually have a lear conception of what Al Qaeda is; he just leaves it blank. That way it's more useful as a protean all-purpose scary campaign bugaboo.

"Here was this monster who killed 3,000 of our fellows showing up on our TV screens, trying to insert himself into our election, trying to lecture us on who is lying and who is telling the truth. Here was this villain traipsing through his own propaganda spiel with copycat Michael Moore rhetoric about George Bush in the schoolroom, and Jeb Bush and the 2000 Florida election.

Here was this deranged killer spreading absurd theories about the American monarchy and threatening to murder more of us unless we do what he says.

One felt all the old emotions. Who does he think he is, and who does he think we are?"

Actually, no. I didn't feel any of the same emotions I felt on Sept. 11. Only an idiot who had spent the last 3 years neither studying nor thinking would feel exactly the same emotions. What I felt was curiosity. Where is OBL? What is his current role in the universe of Islamic terrorism? Are the vague demands which he outlined in this tape - basically the withdrawal of American troops and other organiations from the Islamic world - in fact representative of the goals of Islamic violent political movements generally? Could radical political Islam ever be brought to the point where its demands did become concrete political ones, and where deals could be made and enforced with radical Islamic leaders?

Brooks's rhetoric evinces a kind of hysterical fear of penetration - "trying to insert himself into our election," e.g. I guess I just am not that freaked out by the idea of people I loathe trying to participate in the American political sphere of discourse. Hell, I can't get Pat Robertson to shut up either.

"One of the crucial issues of this election is, Which candidate fundamentally gets the evil represented by this man? Which of these two guys understands it deep in his gut - not just in his brain or in his policy statements, but who feels it so deep in his soul that it consumes him?"

Append to Yuck: Even More Yuck! "deep in his gut - not just in his brain" -- STOP WITH THE GRODY ANATOMICAL STUFF! I know Christians are all into this body-of-our-lord shit, and I know Bush is God's chosen leader on Earth, but the rest of us DON'T NEED TO HEAR IT! I feel perfectly capable of voting without knowing anything about either candidate's digestive tracts or medulla oblongatas.

On a substantial plane: Why should I care whether a candidate is so fixated on how evil Osama Bin Laden is that it "consumes him"? Actually, would it really be a good idea to vote for a candidate who is pathologically obsessed with a thirst for revenge? Has American political discourse really come to this?

"On Milwaukee television, he used the video as an occasion to attack the president: "He didn't choose to use American forces to hunt down Osama bin Laden. He outsourced the job." Kerry continued with a little riff from his stump speech, "I am absolutely confident I have the ability to make America safer."

Even in this shocking moment, this echo of Sept. 11, Kerry saw his political opportunities and he took 'em. There's such a thing as being so nakedly ambitious that you offend the people you hope to impress."

Shut UP! Shut UP! (whap-whap) The issue of whether or not President Bush committed enough resources to Afghanistan to capture OBL and eliminate al-Qaeda, rather than getting distracted by the big juicy lollipop of Baghdad, is one of the clearest pointed issues in this election. It serves as a referendum on whether President Bush "gets it": whether he gets that terrorism is a decentralized, networked, internet-age phenomenon which breeds and multiplies in the free-flowing trade and information currents and weakened states of the globalized economy; whether he gets that Afghanistan was thus always MORE dangerous than Iraq, not less; whether he has any idea who Osama Bin Laden is and how to fight him. I don't fucking care how much Bush hates OBL; what I care about is whether he has a clue as to how to fight him. John Kerry has been hammering on this point throughout the campaign. To suggest that because OBL made a videotape and sent it to a network (How dare he! The gall! This is a second national tragedy - we must observe a moment of silence, except, of course, for the Bush campaign) John Kerry should stop talking about the fact that Bush let him get away IS in fact shameless, shameless, naked electioneering, of a disgusting and putrid and vile sort, and only a completely intellectually dishonest hack would be capable of formulating such an idea.

"When we rely on allies everywhere else around the world, that's multilateral cooperation, but when Bush does it in Afghanistan, it's "outsourcing." In Iraq, Kerry supports using local troops to chase insurgents, but in Afghanistan he is in post hoc opposition."

This little paragraph verges on cogency for a moment. The key here, of course, is the difference between "insurgents" and "Osama Bin Freaking Laden". It's one thing to take advantage of local political legitimacy to suppress insurgents in general; it's another thing entirely, when you think you have the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks cornered, to deputize a posse of half-trained locals with their own political interests, rather than dropping in a giant honking division of American regulars to make goddamned sure we get the guy. But we didn't have a division of American regulars; we were getting ready to invade Iraq, so we could fail to find any WMD and open up all the bunkers full of explosives to looters.

"This is why Kerry is not cleaning Bush's clock in this election. Many people are not sure that he gets the fundamental moral confrontation."

Many people must really be incredibly stupid. Do they think John Kerry thinks OBL is an okay guy? That he's gotten a bum rap? What exactly is it that George Bush "gets"? That a nation founded on the principle of government of, for, and by the people is morally superior to a bloodthirsty mass murderer who deliberately targets and slaughters thousands of innocent civilians purely in order to score a political point? Gee, what a piercing insight.

The only content to the claim that George Bush "gets it" is the assertion of a kind of nakedly fascist identification of the soul of the nation, and the souls of citizens, with that of the leader. It is not okay for Brooks to use this kind of language. It isn't. It isn't okay to say he "gets it" without saying what it is he is supposed to "get". It isn't okay to suggest that whether a leader understands the world and proposes intelligent policies is less important than whether he "gets it". That is the language of fascism. Down that road lie endless warfare and ultimate defeat.

"We are revealed by what we hate."

Who said that? I think it was Goering, right? "When someone uses the word 'civilization', I reach for my revolver. We are revealed by what we hate." Oh no, wait. It was David Brooks.

5 Comments:

At 1:40 PM, Blogger cmeltifa said...

I have been on-line searching for hours for information regarding cryocell cord blood and stumbled across your blog during my journey :-) brooksfoe your blog is really amazing! Keep up the great work. Obviously my search on cryocell cord blood was way off when compared to Those pesky litmus tests and find it funny how it landed me here. The internet is a funny thing. Anyways, great job on your blogging and keep up the good work! I been searching for cryocell cord blood for over 2 hours and needed a break from it. I started reading your blog and really started getting into it.
P.S I will add you to my favorites so I can come back and visit later
P.S.S If you want to bookmark my site I am at cryocell cord blood. You never know you may find some good deals!

 
At 10:12 PM, Blogger hplauze said...

I have been on-line searching for hours for information regarding umbilical cord blood gas and stumbled across your blog during my journey :-) brooksfoe your blog is really amazing! Keep up the great work. Obviously my search on umbilical cord blood gas was way off when compared to Those pesky litmus tests and find it funny how it landed me here. The internet is a funny thing. Anyways, great job on your blogging and keep up the good work! I been searching for umbilical cord blood gas for over 2 hours and needed a break from it. I started reading your blog and really started getting into it.
P.S I will add you to my favorites so I can come back and visit later
P.S.S If you want to bookmark my site I am at umbilical cord blood gas. You never know you may find some good deals!

 
At 7:22 PM, Blogger Rachel said...

I have been on-line searching for hours for information regarding cryocell cord blood and stumbled across your blog during my journey :-) brooksfoe your blog is really amazing! Keep up the great work. Obviously my search on cryocell cord blood was way off when compared to Those pesky litmus tests and find it funny how it landed me here. The internet is a funny thing. Anyways, great job on your blogging and keep up the good work! I been searching for cryocell cord blood for over 2 hours and needed a break from it. I started reading your blog and really started getting into it.
P.S I will add you to my favorites so I can come back and visit later
P.S.S If you want to bookmark my site I am at cryocell cord blood. You never know you may find some good deals!

 
At 2:58 PM, Blogger Derek said...

Well this blog certainly is not about cryocell cord blood. What the heck! I guess the internet can play some tricks on us sometimes. I have been on-line for two hours
researching cryocell cord blood and came tumbling across your blog. I LOVE IT! I needed a break from cryocell cord blood anyways :-) If you don't mind I want to add your
blog to my favorites list so I can come back later on and read some more stuff. Well I guess I should get back to researching cryocell cord blood.
Even though my search is not on Those pesky litmus tests I am glad I came across your blog. Keep blogging away!

 
At 1:55 PM, Blogger cmeltifa said...

I have been on-line searching for hours for information regarding cryocell cord blood and stumbled across your blog during my journey :-) brooksfoe your blog is really amazing! Keep up the great work. Obviously my search on cryocell cord blood was way off when compared to Those pesky litmus tests and find it funny how it landed me here. The internet is a funny thing. Anyways, great job on your blogging and keep up the good work! I been searching for cryocell cord blood for over 2 hours and needed a break from it. I started reading your blog and really started getting into it.
P.S I will add you to my favorites so I can come back and visit later
P.S.S If you want to bookmark my site I am at cryocell cord blood. You never know you may find some good deals!

 

Post a Comment

<< Home