David Brooks holds his ground today at the Gray Lady, nicely detailing reasons to insist that our era is like neither the Great Depression nor the Progressive Era, the two historical models used by the Obama White House as metanarratives for their anemic political agenda.
We find Brooks' analysis trenchant. Hence we note it here.
But we also find the comments from Times readers to be, well, depressing. Post after post repeats the hackneyed talking-points of leftist lemmings: the Rs wrecked government, "smaller government" means returning to social anarchy, Reagan did it, Bush did it, it's the 1% . . . all that. Some insist that Brooks is a toady of the right-wing propaganda machine.
Well, that's kinda funny, actually, as Brooks points to issues that aren't exactly being addressed thoughtfully by most Republican pols either. Right now the fight seems to be over who knows what Reagan's ghost would do. Conservatives' historical analogies are also suspect when employed simplistically, without attention to differences as well as similarities in different eras.
But the Times' readers, probably hailed by the paper's salesmen to prospective advertisers as the best educated newspaper readers in the world, can't engage such thoughts. For them, Brooks simply violates self-evident orthodoxies and so must be stupid, evil, credulous or all three.
It's been widely observed that as developed countries become more mobile, people's experiences of social difference become less frequent. Most people these days live, work and play with people of very similar backgrounds, economic conditions and opinions. That leads to the kind of bald ignorance of other points of view that one sees in most comments sections on most opinion pieces in most internet publications these days.
So why do we pick on the Times? Because the Times postures as the elite organ of news and analysis, the newspaper of the moral and intellectual 1%. As if thoughtful conservatives were unicorns.