Thursday, April 26, 2007
(12:10 PM) | Adam Kotsko:
David Brooks: Some ThoughtsDavid Brooks' columns for the New York Times were really bad when he first started there. But during the time between the introduction of the "Times Select" paywall and their decision to allow people with university e-mail addresses to get behind the paywall for free, he seems to have improved.
This may simply be a matter of getting better at the column form, which seems like it would be pretty constraining. It seems, however, that it is at least partly indicative of a shift among American conservatives in the past year or so. Conservative pundits have always identified more closely with the Republican party than liberal pundits do with the Democrats, and in the past six years, that has required a profound degree of hackery. Now with Bush and the war being so unpopular, it seems like there's at least some minimal breathing room for conservatives to question strict orthodoxy -- so David Brooks is able, for example, to say that the battle of evolution vs. creationism is very much a rearguard effort (evolution now provides the "metanarrative" of our intellectual classes), and that it's obvious that abortion should be legal in at least the first four or five months. Whether he's right about those things is of course a separate question, but at least he's no longer doing the little trick of "I'm very open-minded and balanced, but doesn't it seem clear that Bush is right about absolutely everything?" He's still a conservative and still has some really dumb views, but at least he's not completely predictable anymore.
I assume that a new party line and infallible leader will be introduced sooner or later, and things will go back to normal. But it seems possible that historians will look back on late 2006 through 2008 as the Golden Age of Conservative Punditry. So let's enjoy the minimal indications of independent thought while they last.