David Brooks’ Sad Elite

Mickey Kaus Columnist
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David Brooks’ Sad Elite: David Brooks says extremist “wingers” have taken over the Republican party–because those condemned as RINOs are too timid to “stand up to those who would destroy them.”

(1) It sounds like he’s not really upset with RINOs. He’s upset with primaries.

(2) Those who buy the consensus elite position typically characterize dissenters as “extreme.” In the 60s, the bipartisan consensus elite position on welfare was basically ‘to hell with requiring work. Let’s just give everyone a guaranteed income.’  The extreme position was to oppose this as a “megadole,” as a nutty winger named Reagan put it.  When the consensus position proved both wildly unpopular and unworkable, the Reagan position eventually became the new consensus, adopted by not only Republicans but Bill Clinton.

These days, on the budget, the consensus elite position is that you have to both cut government and raise taxes. The “extreme” position is to try cutting government first. Crazy, I know. On immigration, the consensus elite position is that we need to couple border enforcement with a simultaneous amnesty. The “extreme” position is to do the enforcement part first, while avoiding new magnets that might draw further illegal entries. Is that what Brooks means by “beyond the fringe”?

You get the point. Brooks doesn’t like the “heresy trial” that drove Rick Perry from the race merely for invoking the consensus position. But the only way for non-elites to convince elites that they are full of it is to beat them in elections when they invoke the consensus, no?

(3) When it comes to immigration, of course, the elite GOP position has less to do with responsible policy than with cheesy politics–attempting to get a bigger share of the growing Latino vote. Isn’t the role of an elite, in Brooks words, to “establish boundaries” against demagogic appeals–not to say ‘hey, here’s a demagogic appeal our side can make’?

(4) Is this the inverted country club Republican version of the Dems Fight-Back Fallacy? ‘If only those RINOs had some spine and fighting spirit they’d beat those irresponsible wingers.’ No they wouldn’t.

(5) Brooks thinks he’s a “mainstream conservative”? If so, he is an “insular information loop” of one.

Mickey Kaus