Well, that didn’t take long. On March 3, 2009, New York Times columnist David Brooks issued his “Moderate Manifesto” in which he confessed uneasiness with his choice of Obama. But Brooks is back on board the Obama ship of state, with a column in today’s NY Times in which he all but asks for forgiveness after some administration officials gave him a talking-to.
Brooks’ March 3 article was startling coming from one of Obama’s greatest cheerleaders. Brooks expressed concern with the radical budget proposals emanating from the White House:
But the Obama budget is more than just the sum of its parts. There is, entailed in it, a promiscuous unwillingness to set priorities and accept trade-offs. There is evidence of a party swept up in its own revolutionary fervor …
Brooks’ piece generated enormous publicity since Brooks was such an Obama supporter during the campaign, once even comparing Obama’s election to a dream come true:
I have dreams. I may seem like a boring pundit whose most exotic fantasies involve G.A.O. reports, but deep down, I have dreams. And right now I’m dreaming of the successful presidency this country needs. I’m dreaming of an administration led by Barack Obama, but which stretches beyond the normal Democratic base. It makes time for moderate voters, suburban voters, rural voters and even people who voted for the other guy….Is it all just a dream? I hope not. In any case, please be quiet and let me have my moment.
Among the people who took note of Brooks’ possible turnaround, according to Brooks most recent column, were four unnamed senior administration officials who took the time out of their busy days to set Brooks straight:
On Tuesday, I wrote that the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous. The column generated a large positive response from moderate Obama supporters who are anxious about where the administration is headed. It was not so popular inside the White House. Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.
Brooks goes on to spend almost his entire column parroting the administration’s position that the budget proposals are not radical. It is the ultimate puff piece (hint, it’s Bush’s fault). The White House is entitled to get its opinion out there, and it does so every single day with press briefings, press releases, speeches, and sundry other communications. Why does Brooks feel compelled to devote almost his entire column not to commentary, but to serving as a funnel for White House spin?
… the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation. I’m more optimistic that if Senate moderates can get their act together and come up with their own proactive plan, they can help shape a budget that allays theiranxieties while meeting the president’s goals.
Ah, sophisticated policy by people who know how to lead a conversation. Well, that must be true, since in one conversation they pulled you back on board. And they are so, so friendly and cooperative. Where have you been these past six weeks?
And who were these senior administration officials who persuaded you to go back to being an Obama cheerleader, after a day of guilt pangs? Did one of them have the initials R.E., and did he mention a fish wrapped in newspaper?
I was right to write, after Brooks’ partial mea culpa, that Brooks’ apology was not accepted. My advice to Brooks remains unchanged: “Get lost. And don’t come back, while the rest of us work our ways through the problem you helped to create.” Oh, and stop shaking, now that you are back on team Obama you won’t get the Rush-Cramer-Santelli treatment.
UPDATE: Check out Robert Stacy McCains The re-education of David Brooks:
The reason David Brooks is the White House’s favorite columnist is because, by the fraudulent pretense that he is a “conservative,” Brooks provides key assistance in the Democrats’ most essential mission: Obscuring truth.