Brooks was less optimistic about the Republican Party, following their losses on Tuesday.
“World of pain,” Brooks said. “A generation of pain. 1964, it was so much better than now. In ’64, they had a coherent belief system. They lost, they didn’t persuade the American people about it, but they understood where they wanted to take the country.
“Now it’s just a circular firing squad, with everybody attacking each other, and no coherent belief system, no leaders. You’ve got half the party waiting for Sarah Palin to come and rescue them. The other half is waiting for Bobby Jindal, the Louisiana governor, to come rescue them. But no set of beliefs. Really a decayed conservative infrastructure. It’s just a world of pain.” . . .
Brooks was not convinced that Sarah Palin could be taken seriously as the GOP’s next Ronald Reagan.
“Well, the ‘hell, no’ group is rallying around her,” he said. “And this past week, I don’t think, has been particularly flattering to her, the McCain people – and the whole thing has been a complete disaster. They’ve attacked her for her lack of human capital and for being a diva.
“I’m not sure it’s all fair, but one would not say she has spent her life preparing for an intellectual revolution to lead the party out of the wilderness. Let’s put it that way.”
Brooks declared himself a part of the “yes, but” wing. “You know, this is where the American people are,” he said. “And, fundamentally, the conservative movement failed (and I’ve been in it my entire life) because it hasn’t addressed the problems of today, the rise of China and Russia, the rise of inequality, energy, health care. It’s great to worry about Reagan. I loved Reagan, but those days are over.”
To begin with, I’ve talked to more than a few veterans of the ’64 Goldwater debacle (including William Middendorf) and it was certainly not clear to the AuH20 crew in the wake of that drubbing what a wonderful future lay ahead for conservatism. And Brooks has been one of the chief marksmen of the “circular firing squad” ever since he conjured up “National Greatness,” a complete repudiation of the limited-government ideas that motivated conservatives from Goldwater to Reagan to Gingrich. And David Brooks most certainly has not been in the conservative movement his “entire life,” having made his bones as a precocious college liberal by mocking Bill Buckley and contradicting Milton Friedman.
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