January 9th, 2018

Guess what? David Brooks can’t stand Trump…

but he doesn’t think Trump is crazy or demented.

This rates as unusual.

From Brooks:

It’s almost as if there are two White Houses. There’s the Potemkin White House, which we tend to focus on: Trump berserk in front of the TV, the lawyers working the Russian investigation and the press operation. Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.

I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country.

I mention these inconvenient observations because the anti-Trump movement, of which I’m a proud member, seems to be getting dumber. It seems to be settling into a smug, fairy tale version of reality that filters out discordant information. More anti-Trumpers seem to be telling themselves a “Madness of King George” narrative: Trump is a semiliterate madman surrounded by sycophants who are morally, intellectually and psychologically inferior to people like us.

I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.

That seems to me to be a reasonable way of looking at it, for those who remain “fervently anti-Trump.” I’ve already expressed my own position—which is that Trump is far better as president than I expected, although his character flaws remain.

But although I laud Brooks for his relatively reasonable approach among “fervent anti-Trumpers,” I wish he’d managed to look at Trump’s predecessor Obama without reducing him (or rather, elevating him) to “a fairy tale” of a very different sort.

To refresh your memory, see this.

21 Responses to “Guess what? David Brooks can’t stand Trump…”

  1. Griffin Says:

    This seems to be the next iteration of analysis of the Trump presidency. Now he’s just a figure head. Since any rational observer has to admit that there have been some pretty substantive accomplishments the earlier theories that he is literally Hitler or that he is incompetent have to be amended.

    Therefore, we have the figurehead theory.

  2. Griffin Says:

    And of course every president is a figurehead to some degree but the ones the media likes are never referred to that way.

  3. tom swift Says:

    Twelve-year-olds.

    A little more capable than the liberal six-year-olds … but still children.

  4. s1c Says:

    All is preceding as Scott Adams (dilbert) predicted.

  5. AMartel Says:

    The emotional neediness!
    Waah, I wanted someone like ME to make ME proud! He must think the world of himself and yet such a fragile self-image.

    If the Republican base thought this way there wouldn’t be GOP. It’s just the truth.

    This awful mincing snob, and others like him, think they’re entitled to have THEIR candidate and everyone else can pound sand. Trump doesn’t look or talk like me but I’m okay with that so long as his policies and the implementation thereof favor individual freedom and self-sufficiency … and making America great again including poking the media vigorously.

  6. Geoffrey Britain Says:

    “But although I laud Brooks for his relatively reasonable approach among “fervent anti-Trumpers,” I wish he’d managed to look at Trump’s predecessor Obama without reducing him (or rather, elevating him) to “a fairy tale” of a very different sort.”

    In order to ignore obvious hypocrisy, willful blindness is a requisite.

  7. kevino Says:

    RE: “I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country.”
    Given that this has been the strategy for months, it’s amazing that Brooks has taken this long to figure it out.

  8. DNW Says:

    Brooks:

    “I sometimes wonder if the Invisible White House has learned to use the Potemkin White House to deke us while it changes the country.”

    Funny. I was thinking the other day about the chances of the prospect that Trump was head-faking the left or tossing them distractions via Twitter and daily doses of outrage, in order to misdirect their establishment outrage.

    I didn’t want to mention it because it’s better that these establishment crotch-sniffers shriek because their clubby sensibilities have been chaffed, than that they and their progressive pals attend to the story behind the screen.

  9. DNW Says:

    Damn it, Kevin! LOL

    I knew I should have hit “send” faster.

  10. Frog Says:

    Brooks: “I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.”

    If you don’t reduce everything to fairy-tale BS, David, you cannot be fervently anti-Trump.

    The false reality of the Left is evaporating, and they are left with just hate. Not just hate of Trump, either, but hate also for many millions of Americans who do not share their fervor.

    But go on to Chicago, Brooks, and see the park-and-highway eating Obama “Library” with its basketball court (for a future Obamatron shooting and making hoops!), to be built by black companies that have never before built such a cathedral or anything of this scope. See Zimbabwe or South Africa come to Chicago. That’ll give you some fervor!

  11. AesopFan Says:

    Frog Says:
    January 9th, 2018 at 6:54 pm
    Brooks: “I’d like to think it’s possible to be fervently anti-Trump while also not reducing everything to a fairy tale.”

    If you don’t reduce everything to fairy-tale BS, David, you cannot be fervently anti-Trump.

    The false reality of the Left is evaporating, and they are left with just hate. Not just hate of Trump, either, but hate also for many millions of Americans who do not share their fervor.
    * * *
    I got to this CJ post via PowerLine a couple of days ago, and it’s directly on point.
    Democrats didn’t start hating Republicans just last year.
    Or even with Ronaldus Magnus.

    https://www.city-journal.org/html/goldwater-takedown-14787.html

  12. AesopFan Says:

    DNW Says:
    January 9th, 2018 at 6:15 pm
    Damn it, Kevin! LOL

    I knew I should have hit “send” faster.
    * * *
    I remember seeing stories about the “head fake tweets” (possibly from Bannon (he-who-must-no-longer-be-named)) but also others.
    Is it conscious strategy or just Trump-being-Trump?
    He appears to be the greatest natural politician since Clinton, and may soon eclipse even The Big Dog.

    http://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/article1942525.html

    (RTWT – the evocation of “The Turtleman” is enough to make it worth your while.)

  13. AesopFan Says:

    Geoffrey Britain Says:
    January 9th, 2018 at 4:52 pm

    In order to ignore obvious hypocrisy, willful blindness is a requisite.
    * * *
    I will be very disappointed if you tell me that’s a well-known (or even unknown) quote from someone other than yourself, because it is brilliant.
    Can we put it on a bumper sticker?

  14. AesopFan Says:

    s1c Says:
    January 9th, 2018 at 3:20 pm
    All is preceding as Scott Adams (dilbert) predicted.
    * * *
    A link for any newbies (I’ve seen an awful lot of unfamiliar names lately..)

    I think Scott’s prediction holds up for the Republican anti-Trumpers, but not for the Democrats, who are doing their best to paint Trump as INeffective and they wouldn’t like it even if he WERE effective, and besides he’s imbecile, insane, and senile.

    http://blog.dilbert.com/2017/07/30/the-turn-to-effective-but-we-dont-like-it/

    “Now comes the fun part.

    I predicted that the end of this three-part story would involve President Trump’s critics complaining that indeed he was “effective, but we don’t like it.” Or words to that effect. I based that prediction on the assumption he would get some big wins by the end of the year and it would no longer make sense to question his effectiveness, only his policy choices.

    Watch in awe as the anti-Trump coverage grudgingly admits things are starting to look more professional and “disciplined” at the White House. And as the president’s accomplishments start to mount up, you will see his critics’ grudging acceptance of his effectiveness, but not his policy choices. … At best, expect the anti-Trumpers to say the Chief of Staff is calling the shots, not the President. That’s the predictable fake news attack. But I don’t think it will stick through the end of the year.

    By year-end, expect “Effective, but we don’t like it.”

    …”

    BTW, Adams paid a high price financially for changing his public support from Clinton to Trump, but he doesn’t seem to regret it (yet).

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2017/12/06/win-bigly-scott-adams-dissects-trumps-persuasion-skills/

    Over the past year or so, Adams has done some reinvention of his own — going from a largely beloved artist-writer behind an iconic comic strip to a political pundit who has been vilified as a “Trump apologist” by some on the left. And the career pivot has made him “toxic.” Adams claims that his once-lucrative public speaking career dried up, and after fielding several “Dilbert” licensing proposals per week over the past couple of decades, the offers are down to “zero.”

    “For years, I’ve been trying to make a ‘Dilbert’ movie, but that would be impossible now,” he says.

    On top of that, he estimates that “75 percent” of his friends and acquaintances, mostly Trump-haters, have shunned him.

    “At one point, I actually thought Facebook was broken because I wasn’t seeing any posts from my friends anymore,” he says. “And I’m not even joking about that.”

    Still, Adams has kept his spirits up and insists that he has no regrets. He believes he’s fighting a good fight.

    “I’m at a weird stage in my life where I have (expletive)-you money,” he says. “So I can do things that other people simply can’t do because of their economic reality. … In my opinion, understanding Trump as a technique is insanely important. You can see that a lot of people don’t understand it as technique, and they are frightened to death.”

    And while Adams certainly acknowledges the widespread fear, he is convinced that a president of Trump’s ilk was what the the nation needed — and that the American public will be able to rein him in, if needed.

    “The country needed to be broken before it was fixed. The government had just been ossified,” he says. “And I thought, at the very least, he was going to break it. So I did favor somebody as a destroyer — a destroyer of all the ways we used to think. And what’s different about the way I approach this is that I have very high confidence in Americans as a group to break stuff and fix it. It’s what we do best.”

  15. AesopFan Says:

    Looking for that link on Adams’ prediction, I found several interesting articles, including this one referencing that 3-stage prediction for 2017 and adding predictions for 2018 and 2020 (neither of them surprising), so we can see how good he is going forward.

    http://www.breitbart.com/radio/2017/11/20/scott-adams-trump-will-probably-be-one-of-the-most-consequential-presidents-of-all-time/

    “One of the things I predicted when I first started writing about him and seeing that he was going to, as I said, ‘rip a hole in the universe so that we could look through to sort of a deeper understanding of the human condition,’ if you will – if you had asked anybody, if you had said two years ago, could somebody tell five untruths in public a day and become president, I think everybody would have said, ‘Of course not, that’s ridiculous.’ But we watched it. Could anybody tweet the way he’s tweeting from the presidency, or even running for president, and still get elected? Almost everybody would have said, ‘No way, there’s no way people are going to put up with that nonsense,’” Adams contended.

    “He’s made almost every rule that we thought was a real rule, he’s shown that it isn’t, and that you can actually sort of craft your own reality if you have enough of a will, and you get enough of people’s attention, and you’ve got enough skill to do it. I mean, he’s destroyed two dynasties, the Bushes and the Clintons. He’s changed politics forever. He’s making a huge impact with the executive orders and the courts and everything else. He probably will be one of the most consequential presidents of all time when he’s done,” he predicted.

    “It’s still going to look like a surprise to some people, but he really came with all the firepower and all the tools,” said Adams. “They just weren’t the ones that people are accustomed to seeing. That’s why it was a little bit invisible to the untrained, I’d say.”

    …Adams said he wasn’t certain Trump would run for re-election.

    “I’m expecting that he’ll have an unexpectedly successful four years, meaning that he’s going to get a lot done that at least Republicans wanted to get done, and given his age, and given his expertise with branding, it seems to me there’s a really good chance that he would want to go out on top,” Adams elaborated.

    “Now, arguing against that, he’s one of the most competitive people that we’ve ever seen. If he has something to prove, if he’s not done, if there’s just something he needs to make a point about, he might stay in there. I think he would be almost impossible to beat for a second term,” Adams predicted.

    He added that Republican primary challengers would have difficulty contrasting themselves against President Trump in a way that captures the attention of voters.

    Adams made a concluding observation that Donald Trump is exceptionally good at speaking like the people he is “most interested in getting to vote for him.”

    “It’s brutally effective. Early on in the race, people were saying, ‘He’s talking like a sixth-grader! How could we have a president with a sixth-grade vocabulary?’ I was saying right away, ‘Oh, man, you’re totally missing this story,’” he recalled.

    “By the way, all of the people who have my same training – the linguists, the cognitive scientists – they’ll tell you the same thing. His simple, repetitive language is easy to quote, it’s viral, it’s easy to understand. People just eat it up. That was one of his biggest strengths, which the people who missed everything for two years imagined would be one of his biggest weaknesses,” said Adams.

  16. AesopFan Says:

    Another David who sometimes pretends to be conservative, acknowledges that the world is not coming to an end, but doesn’t find anything he really likes.
    The kicker is that he clearly does not see that his final graf is what the Right was trying to tell people about Obama and the Democrats.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2018/01/trump-numb/550064/

    “Yet the unacceptable does not become more acceptable if it is accepted by increments. If you flow with the current, you’ll be surprised where you end up. “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world,” George Bernard Shaw observed a century ago. The saying is true, but it was not meant as a compliment. It will take a strong dose of unreasonableness to save the country from the destination to which it is tending.

  17. Sloppy Steve Says:

    Yes. This Brooks fellow is correct on that score.

    One of the few things in Wolff’s deplorable book which he may have gotten right is his view that Trump’s West Wing and some government agencies, not just at the very outset but even still today, harbour large numbers of incredibly arrogant professional political staffers and appointees who are absolutely convinced that they owe it to the country to frustrate Trump’s directives as they issue because his policies are xenophobic and dangerous and his top advisers foolish.

    How do these staffers know these policies are xenophobic and dangerous and his people foolish? Simple: they disagree with them.

    Wolff, without any apparent irony at all, paints these arrogant staffers as correct in their overweening self belief that they are “the only adults in the room”, all duty-bound to blunt Trump’s policies because they alone have the experience to know what is best for the country.

    The terms he uses most frequently in relation to the objectives of these self-proclaimed saviours and their undermining are “stability”, “established order” and “normality”.

    Never does he mention the essential truth that Trump has an express mandate from a majority of the people in the majority of the states to upturn the established order, to shake things up and change things.

    It is so galling that when Trump’s base sends him to Washington as a change agent that’s evil and foolish and must be opposed by the adults in the room – but when Obama ran on a platform promising “Change” and transformed the US in a huge variety of negative ways he was wise and deserved to be supported by these same adults.

    That is one of the most galling themes running through Wolff’s book: the arrogant belief that conservatives and traditionalists are, by definition, dimwitted.

    So biased is Wolff that this is so, that although approving of the generally liberal-democrat positions Javanka lobby for, he still can’t refrain from attacking even those two philosophical allies as slow and dimwitted – just because they are part of Trump’s administration.

    Don’t get me started on the malicious hatchet job he inflicts on Don Jnr and especially poor old Eric.

  18. SCOTTtheBADGER Says:

    I, too, am pleasantly surprised at how well Mr. Trump is actually doing. KUDOS, Mr. President!

  19. GRA Says:

    A few years ago the Yale Young Democrats (whatever the name was) and Yale Republicans held a rare joint event with David Brooks as the guest speaker. I laughed.

  20. Ariel Says:

    This is the money quote: “Then there is the Invisible White House that you never hear about, which is getting more effective at managing around the distracted boss.” So while Brooks doesn’t think Trump is demented, he realizes the guy is mercurial. Impulse control is something a president should have.

    @ Frog January 9th, 2018 at 6:54 pm
    “If you don’t reduce everything to fairy-tale BS, David, you cannot be fervently anti-Trump.” Well, I’m fervently anti-Trump because I believe, like Neo did, that he is an habitual liar. I also think he is a narcissist that practices willful ignorance, and aggressively attacks anyone that challenges that willful ignorance. I don’t think he’s demented, crazy, or stupid, just unfit for anything other than building an ego-driven brand.

  21. Ariel Says:

    @ GRA January 11th, 2018 at 10:12 am
    “A few years ago the Yale Young Democrats (whatever the name was) and Yale Republicans held a rare joint event with David Brooks as the guest speaker. I laughed.”

    Me, I would see them as trying to hold an event where a diversity of opinion could be examined, the diversity that conservatives recognize as the real diversity. You just laughed.

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