It saves lots of innocent people from reading David Brooks. He is now telling us that the Democrats have failed because such a small proportion of people are poor and the rest don't care about economic policies at all. What they care about is Values, and the wingnuts do them so much better:
Conservatives, especially evangelicals, have had free rein to offer their own recipe for social renewal: churches that restrain male selfishness, decency standards that check hedonism, social norms that discourage childbearing outside wedlock.
Funny that he doesn't point out how the evangelicals plan to restrict us womenfolk. It's a much larger share of their agenda than restricting male selfishness.
And the idea that the wingnuts are the ones with Values looks truly sick when you read what Bob Herbert* has to say. And yes, he should not be behind the wall:
Reality has been dealt a stunning blow by Mr. Bush. The administration's high-handedness with the Katrina investigators comes at the same time as disclosures showing that the White House was warned in the hours just before the hurricane hit New Orleans that it might well cause catastrophic flooding and the breaching of the city's levees.
That was early on the morning of last Aug. 29. On Sept. 1, with the city all but completely underwater, the president went on television and blithely declared, "I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees."
This guy is something. Remember his "Top Gun" moment aboard the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln? And his famous taunt — "Bring 'em on" — to the insurgents in Iraq? His breathtaking arrogance is exceeded only by his incompetence. And that's the real problem. That's where you'll find the mind-boggling destructiveness of this regime, in its incompetence.
Fantasy may be in fashion. Reality may have been shoved into the shadows on Mr. Bush's watch. But the plain truth is that he is the worst president in memory, and one of the worst of all time. Many thousands of people — men, women and children — have died unnecessarily (and thousands more are suffering) because of his misguided and mishandled policies.
The Republicans are running a populist strategy to garner the votes that will maintain them in power for their real base which is the monied folks. The populist strategies almost always consist of finding the nasty emotion that can be generalized enough to start a movement, the "them-against-us" kind of trigger. It's often something about blacks exploiting the country, though in recent years it has been about uppity women destroying the good old America and about pagans destroying Christmas, and it is certainly going to be about immigrants. All groups that can be fairly safely labeled as "them" rather than as "us". And no, the Democrats are not allowed to use the same trick to point out how the "them" is really those guys with money, the ones that look like militant earthworms (coughKarlRovecough). Because that would be class warfare and only the rich can wage that.
The liberals do have values, and very good values they are: fairness, justice, concern for the others. Brooks is setting up strawmen in his post by stating that the liberals don't have values, and he demeans the concept of values by making them match the Republican framing. Notice how coercive his values are?
But I must admit that it's brave of him to release this poorly thought-out post on values right at the cusp of the Abramoff scandal.
*I had Frank Rich here earlier. Don't know why. Thanks to Nancy for the correction.