'David Brooks' Analysis of Edward Snowden Tells Us a Lot...About David Brooks'

Jesse Walker of Reason has some fun with David Brooks’ latest column in the New York Times:

In The New York Times this morning, David Brooks does the old Take A Few Facts About Somebody, Extrapolate An Entire Psychological Profile, Then Plug It Into One Of My Standard Columns trick. The small handful of facts involve NSA leaker Edward Snowden; the psychological profile claims that Snowden was a loner cut off from social bonds; the standard column claims that this is a sign of “the atomization of society,” that this alleged dissolution of civil society fuels the “distinct strands of libertarianism” which may have inspired Snowden, and, of course, that

Big Brother is not the only danger facing the country. Another is the rising tide of distrust, the corrosive spread of cynicism, the fraying of the social fabric and the rise of people who are so individualistic in their outlook that they have no real understanding of how to knit others together and look after the common good.

Just to be clear: He’s talking about Snowden here. Brooks doesn’t discuss whether the surveillance state is built on distrust, whether deceiving Americans about its activities spreads cynicism, whether its intrusions into civil society fray the social fabric, and whether the officials who run it are really working toward the common good. As usual, virtually all of Brooks’ criticisms are directed at people who challenge authority, not people in authority.

But this time the columnist takes that habit to absurd new heights. Snowden, he writes,

betrayed the Constitution. The founders did not create the United States so that some solitary 29-year-old could make unilateral decisions about what should be exposed. Snowden self-indulgently short-circuited the democratic structures of accountability, putting his own preferences above everything else.


So in other words, Snowden wears khaki Dockers instead of bespoke double-bleated sidetab adjustable perfectly-creased cuffed suit trousers.

No word yet if David Brooks will be making any snap judgements about Snowden based on the aesthetics of his alleged girlfriend.

Update: At Commentary, Max Boot explores “Edward Snowden’s Parallel Universe,” which sounds eerily reminiscent of an earlier vainglorious crusader’s parallel universe:

Edward Snowden, the NSA turncoat, sounds coherent and measured at first blush, but the more he keeps talking the more he emerges as a paranoid narcissist with a messiah complex. He believes that there is a vast, overarching conspiracy within the U.S. government to abrogate the liberties of ordinary citizens, and he is the only person who has the courage and the idealism to expose this monstrous misdoing.

So a Lightworker, in other words. Speaking of which, Boot adds that alas, Snowden’s narcissism “will only be fed by all of the news coverage — some of it decidedly adulatory — he has generated.”

Say, that has an awfully familiar ring to it for some reason:


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