David Brooks Sends a Valentine

He sent it on Tuesday, to President Obama.

Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss, and that I suspect we will all miss a bit, regardless of who replaces him.

Tyler Cowen said that he agrees with the column.

I find myself feeling less charitable.

Brooks claims that the Obama Administration was scandal-free. I think it was more of a case that the mainstream press had his back. Could George Bush have survived the IRS scandal? Could Ronald Reagan have gotten away with choosing not to enforce immigration laws?

Brooks claims that President Obama “grasps the reality of the situation” in the Middle East. Certainly there are plenty of delusions that President Obama does not hold. I think he is right to be skeptical about how well military intervention would work out. But he appears to be stuck in a very sophomoric delusion, which is that virtue-signaling constitutes an effective foreign policy.

Brooks credits President Obama with listening to other points of view and having good manners. I don’t think he shows any real understanding of or good manners toward those who disagree with him about the relative merits of markets and government or about the relative merits of civilization-barbarism vs. oppressor-oppressed in describing the conflict involving radical Islam.

We certainly can do worse than President Obama. No one should be surprised if the next President turns out to make a lot of mistakes and to have major intellectual and moral defects. But any comparison with President Obama should be based on the reality, not Brooks’ air-brushed portrait.

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33 Responses to David Brooks Sends a Valentine

  1. Andrew' says:

    Good. This means we won’t get a radical, stunt-casting Supreme Court appointment. I’m glad I have been wrong.

  2. Robert H. says:

    Reagan did defer prosecution for a large class of immigrants. It’s, like, the leading precedent the entire immigration case rests on.

    • Andrew' says:

      If I look into this am I going to be sorely disappointed. I always am, you should know.

      Is this like the,”Heritage wrote Obamacare” nonsense?

    • Andrew' says:

      Initial reports are in, and yeah, you are exactly wrong.

      • Andrew' says:

        In short, when Reagan/Bush (under entirely different circumstances, scale, and political environment) DEFER deportations awaiting the approval process of a legislation in-process that would not serve as a (logical…who knows what lawyers will do) precedent to Obama circumventing a law that he says Cogress “failed to pass” but more accurately could be said to have succeeded in defeating. It is in fact almost the opposite. Reagan/Bush was attempting to facilitate the will of Congress. Obama is trying to create a veto power of Congresses non-passing of a law.

        • Robert H. says:

          The legal question is whether the president has statutory or constitutional authority to defer prosecution for classes of immigrants. Reagan did that. The fact that congress might agree, in their hearts, with how Reagan exercised his discretion but this congress disagrees, in their hearts, with how this president excercised his discretion is irrelevant.

          Moreover, what Reagan did is totally relevant in that it established the precedent for giving a right-to-work type authorization for immigrants, that’s what the fifth circuit overturned, and when they overturned it they specifically talked about overturning Reagan.

          So yes, when the fifth circuit said Obama did something wrong they also said Reagan did the same thing wrong.

  3. asdf says:

    This is a good blog post.

  4. Thomas P. says:

    “Could Ronald Reagan have gotten away with choosing not to enforce immigration laws?”
    Well, he has gotten away with not knowing or not remembering what his aides and the Iranians were doing together.

    • Andrew' says:

      Arnold was using an example. Obviously the liberal media would never hold a president to task for a liberal position, except maybe in an election year to push it as a wedge issue.

      Obama’s scandals were potentially fundamentally more damaging to the Republic compared to even The 2nd Iraq war, and maybe even Watergate. They just got no play.

  5. Lord says:

    We did do worse with Bush so it is quite likely actually. Bush survived iraq and Katrina, though reduced by them. Reagan survived Iran contra, though reduced by it, but was also popular for other things. Drones aren’t virtue signaling. Libya wasn’t either if less fruitful. Compared to Ted Nugent and rabid Fox commentators, he is a saint.

    • Andrew' says:

      Obama lied to your face about universal spying on everyone.

      Yeah, those guys “survived”. Obama skated.

  6. Andrew_FL says:

    The man has a Supreme Court Justice assassinated, and his administration is scandal free. Yup, that checks out.

    • Andrew' says:

      I doubt that, obviously. But I spent last night wondering “but why not?” Because he is a great guy, I guess.

  7. Andrew' says:

    A couple lessons to be learned. Never use a bad example or even a poor choice if words as the peanut gallery will pounce. And never create a precedent your enemies can use no matter how opposite the circumstances they will attempt to use it in. Statist lawyers will do what statist lawyers do, but logically it is obvious what Obama did is the exact opposite of what Reagan/Bush did when they tried to execute the actual desires of a Democrat Congress as passed into law.

    We know it is different BECAUSE nobody challenged them. They were not trying to get over on a congress opposed to executive legislating. They were executing a poorly worded law unail the law,could be changed. That doesn’t make it a pelrecedent for executive over-reach, it is lgically the opposite, but again, statist lawyers will do what they do.

    “After their “failure” to pass a law I wanted, I’m going to enforce the law anyway.” Obama made the case against, himself, all by himself, unilaterally. Just like he liked to do everything.

    • Andrew' says:

      “After the Bush administration moved, the House followed. In March 1990, 33 House members introduced legislation with similar provisions to stay deportation of family members. In October, Congress then passed a combined Immigration Act of 1990, with a permanent “Family Unity” provision.”

      People are trying to excuse executive legislation by using an example of the vagaries of attempted faithful execution of the intent of Congress as precedent(!!!). I don’t think you guys have really thought this through yet.

      • Andrew' says:

        I’m not even talking about the illogical position, here. I’m talking about, do you want Donald Trump with total immigration authority? You just might get it, and running roughshod over the opposition is hastening the day!

  8. Butler T. Reynolds says:

    When reading David Brooks, does it cross anyone else’s mind that he could have a small mention in an Ayn Rand novel?

    • Andrew' says:

      He is too milquetoast, but also not milquetoast enough.

      I thought it was funny recently when he said there was no empirical evidence for gun control, but he was fine with it, and he loved his point so much he kept repeating it.

  9. collin says:

    UM…..Reagan had Iran-Contra and he survived. And Bush lost press support because the Iraq was a mess. So liberal press has not protected Obama here. No, I tend not to agree with Brooks here (I think Trump is messing with him) but Prez Obama has been a fairly competent President.

    However, the legacy does depend upon whether Iran continues not be a nuclear power for 15 years. They have been complying with the deal but it is only the beginning.

  10. Thales says:

    “Perfect pant creases, I’ll miss you most of all!” — David Brooks

  11. Google: obama the finger

    The pictures of Obama show the decorum which Brooks is referring to.

    You may doubt that Obama is giving the finger. Try doing the hand gestures and poses that Obama is doing. It takes effort and some contortion to hold those poses. Of course, long practice may have built up the muscles and stretched the ligaments to make it easy for him.

  12. Harun says:

    In case anyone thinks these are the only Obama scandals, here are a few more that could have sank a Republican.

    Fast and the Furious gun running

    EPA Lisa Jackson using personal, pseudonymous email as Richard Windsor, as well as waiving FOIA fees for friendly green groups but not others

    Benghazi – maybe not as big as the GOP makes it out, but not so small either

    Solyndra and other green energy companies

    Clinton email is a Obama scandal as well, since she was his subordinate.

    There are probably more, too.

    The IRS scandal goes beyond Lerner and onto hiding back up emails. Remember, Obama was supposedly outraged. Outrage that didn’t lead to him calling up his employees and demanding full cooperation with Congress “produce those emails in 72 hours!!!!!” Nope. Wonder why. We’ll never know, especially as the computer hard drives holding the IM chats are gone.

  13. Jeff R. says:

    Barack Obama is pretty Bobo, he was elected by Bobos; and David Brooks, as we know, loves Bobos.

  14. Daublin says:

    David Brooks lives in a bubble.

    Outside the Obama bubble, plenty of people are scandalized by Guantanamo Bay still being open, by various broken promises of Obamacare, by the sequester grandstanding, and by his hawkish foreign policy. Leaving aside outright scandal, he comes off as rather condescending to anyone who disagrees with him.

    Inside the Obama bubble, everyone you ever hear from says that Obama’s this swell guy. He may not have accomplished much, but at least he didn’t make things worse.

    It’s not just the media. On Reddit, you can hardly say the word “Obama” without your comment being downvoted to oblivion.

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