The old saying “fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me” comes to mind when reading the latest from the NY Times’ house conservative. We all get fooled or snookered once in a while. I could tell the story of how when I worked for the Texas GOP a mainstream media reporter once grilled me within earshot of Democratic operatives that, being new to town, I didn’t recognize as such. The reporter wanted me to either back down off a tough press release I’d written or reveal the party’s inner workings to him — while the Democrat operatives listened in about two feet away. But I didn’t give him any ground, and when I found out about the trap, I decided never to trust that reporter again. We never got to the “shame on me” part.
But David Brooks has been in “shame on me” mode for years now. The columnist who was swayed by the fine crease of Obama’s pants has now had more than two years to watch the president assail “fat cat bankers” and then declare himself the only thing standing between them and an angry mob. He has had ample time to consider what Obama meant early on, when Republicans objected to his state-centered policies and he replied, simply: “I won.” Brooks has had time to watch Obama push through two massively transformative measures — the first stimulus, and ObamaCare — along purely partisan lines, while the economy continued to burn out.He has had the chance to watch how Obama used czars to get radicals installed into his government, and how he has used the regulatory state to punish American enterprise and our energy industry for the sake of his pet social engineering schemes. He has had time to hear Obama repeatedly lie in blaming the Republicans for blocking his jobs bill in the Senate, when the Democrats control that body and several of them voted against it too.
But the evidence in his latest column says that Brooks has seen none of this.
Obama, who sounded so fresh in 2008, now sometimes sounds a bit like Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi. Obama, who inspired the country, now threatens to run a campaign that is viciously negative. Obama, who is still widely admired because he is reasonable and calm, is in danger of squandering his best asset by pretending to be someone he is not. Obama, a natural unifier and conciliator, seems on the verge of running as a divisive populist while accusing Mitt Romney, his possible opponent, of being inauthentic.
It’s the “pretending to be someone he is not” line that’s the most problematic in that paragraph. In second place, declaring Barack Obama to be a “natural unifier and conciliator.” On the first, Brooks has the timeline reversed: It was the 2008 Obama who was pretending to be someone he is not. The current class warfare supporting, divisive iteration is closer to the truth of Obama. His entire background consists of being on the far left agitative fringe of politics and activism. That’s who he is. That’s the man who launched his political career at the home of terrorist Bill Ayers and who sat in the pews of Jeremiah Wright’s hateful church for 20 years. The “Hope and Change” message masked the far left “fundamental transformation” that was and is Obama’s real agenda. And there is no evidence at all, either from his time in Illinois politics or on the national stage, that Barack Obama is a “natural unifier and conciliator.” His voting record put him to the left of Bernie Sanders, the socialist from Vermont. He had never authored anything that attracted true conservative support. Obama is an Alinskyite divider, by choice.
So shame on David Brooks for staying fooled.