David Brooks (born August 11, 1961) is a Canadian-born American political and cultural commentator. Brooks served as an editorial writer and film reviewer for the Washington Times, a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR. He is now a columnist for The New York Times and commentator on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
== Quotes ==
=== 2000s ===
Almost nobody in the peace camp will stand up and say that Saddam Hussein is not a fundamental problem for the world. Almost nobody in that camp is willing even to describe what the world will look like if the peace camp's advice is taken and Saddam is permitted to remain in power in Baghdad, working away on his biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs... They are playing culture war, and they are disguising their eruptions as position-taking on Iraq, a country about which they haven't even taken the trouble to inform themselves. … For most in the peace camp, there is only the fog. The debate is dominated by people who don't seem to know about Iraq and don't care. Their positions are not influenced by the facts of world affairs.
"Saddam's Brain", The Weekly Standard (11 November 2002)As good, naive Americans, we think that if only we can show the world the seriousness of the threat Saddam poses, then they will embrace our response. In our good, innocent way, we assume that in persuading our allies we are confronted with a problem of understanding. But suppose we are confronted with a problem of courage? Perhaps the French and the Germans are simply not brave enough to confront Saddam. Or suppose we are confronted with a problem of character? Perhaps the French and the Germans understand the risk Saddam poses to the world order. Perhaps they know that they are in danger as much as anybody. They simply would rather see American men and women--rather than French and German men and women--dying to preserve their safety. Far better, from this cynical perspective, to signal that you will not take on the terrorists--so as to earn their good will amidst the uncertain times ahead.
"French Kiss Off", The Weekly Standard (6 February 2003)I do suspect that the decision to pursue this confrontational course emerges from Bush's own nature. He is a man of his word. He expects others to be that way too. It is indisputably true that Saddam has not disarmed. If people are going to vote against a resolution saying Saddam has not disarmed then they are liars. Bush wants them to do it in public, where history can easily judge them. Needless to say, neither the French nor the Russians nor the Chinese believe that honesty has anything to do with diplomacy. They see the process through an entirely different lens.
"Unite This", The Weekly Standard (6 March 2003)So now we stand at an epochal moment. The debate is over. The case has gone to the jury, and the jury is history. Events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or Chirac.
"48 Hours", The Weekly Standard (17 March 2003)The political history of the 20th century is the history of social-engineering projects executed by well-intentioned people that began well and ended badly. There were big errors like communism, but also lesser ones, like a Vietnam War designed by the best and the brightest, urban renewal efforts that decimated neighborhoods, welfare policies that had the unintended effect of weakening families and development programs that left a string of white elephant projects across the world.These experiences drove me toward the crooked timber school of public philosophy: Michael Oakeshott, Isaiah Berlin, Edward Banfield, Reinhold Niebuhr, Friedrich Hayek, Clinton Rossiter and George Orwell. These writers — some left, some right — had a sense of epistemological modesty. They knew how little we can know. They understood that we are strangers to ourselves and society is an immeasurably complex organism. They tended to be skeptical of technocratic, rationalist planning and suspicious of schemes to reorganize society from the top down.
"The Big Test", The New York Times (23 February 2009)Our moral and economic system is based on individual responsibility. It’s based on the idea that people have to live with the consequences of their decisions. This makes them more careful deciders. This means that society tends toward justice — people get what they deserve as much as possible.
"Money for Idiots", The New York Times, (19 February 2009)The nation’s economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together. If their lives don’t stabilize, then our lives don’t stabilize.
"Money for Idiots", The New York Times, (19 February 2009)
=== 2010s ===
The message of the summoned life is that you don’t need to panic if you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life. But you probably want to throw yourselves into circumstances where the summons will come.
Commencement address (14 May 2011)...list of different spheres of her life: reflection, creativity, community, intimacy, and service.
The Social Animal (2011), p. 342Britain is blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school. This makes it gossipy and often incestuous.
"Britain Is Working" (23 May 2011), The New York TimesThe journalists at Charlie Hebdo are now rightly being celebrated as martyrs on behalf of freedom of expression, but let’s face it. If they had tried to publish their satirical newspaper on any American university campus over the last two decades it wouldn't have lasted 30 seconds. Student and faculty groups would have accused them of hate speech. The administration would have cut financing and shut them down.
"I Am Not Charlie Hebdo" The New York Times (January 2015)Americans may laud Charlie Hebdo for being brave enough to publish cartoons ridiculing the Prophet Muhammad, but, if Ayaan Hirsi Ali is invited to campus, there are often calls to deny her a podium. So this might be a teachable moment. As we are mortified by the slaughter of those writers and editors in Paris, it’s a good time to come up with a less hypocritical approach to our own controversial figures, provocateurs and satirists. The first thing to say, I suppose, is that whatever you might have put on your Facebook page yesterday, it is inaccurate for most of us to claim, Je Suis Charlie Hebdo, or I Am Charlie Hebdo. Most of us don’t actually engage in the sort of deliberately offensive humor that that newspaper specializes in.
"I Am Not Charlie Hebdo" The New York Times (January 2015)About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.
"The Moral Bucket List", The New York Times (11 April 11, 2015 }}Donald Trump just has more courage. Whatever you might think of him, and I don’t think much of him, but he has more courage than his opponents... He's a marketing genius who offers no substance. And people either got pushed into subprime loans by Trump Mortgage, or they got suckered into racking up huge credit card debt to buy courses on Trump University, and they were left high and dry when those things went belly up. And so that’s a story that I think can be told. In a country which is feeling betrayed, he is a mass and serial betrayer... Given the numbers now, it’s very hard to see he could win, given the huge numbers of Americans, the vast majority of Americans who say they could not support the guy. And I still find it hard to believe that somebody as policy-thin and as knowledge-thin would very well — he might be able to wear well with the electorate that we have.
As quoted in "Shields and Brooks on the GOP push to stop Trump" (4 March 2016), PBS NewsHourAre we really here? Is this really happening? Is this America? Are we a great country talking about trying to straddle the world and create opportunity in this country? It's just mind-boggling. And we have sort of become acculturated, because this campaign has been so ugly. We have become acculturated to sleaze and unhappiness that you just want to shower from every 15 minutes. The Trump comparison of the looks of the wives, he does have, over the course of his life, a consistent misogynistic view of women as arm candy, as pieces of meat. It’s a consistent attitude toward women which is the stuff of a diseased adolescent. And so we have seen a bit of that show up again. But if you go back over his past, calling into radio shows bragging about his affairs, talking about his sex life in public, he is childish in his immaturity. And his — even his misogyny is a childish misogyny. And that’s why I do not think Republicans, standard Republicans, can say, yes, I’m going to vote for this guy because he’s our nominee. He’s of a different order than your normal candidate. And this whole week is just another reminder of that... The odd thing about his whole career and his whole language, his whole world view is there is no room for love in it. You get a sense of a man who received no love, can give no love, so his relationship with women, it has no love in it. It’s trophy. And his relationship toward the world is one of competition and beating, and as if he’s going to win by competition what other people get by love. And so you really are seeing someone who just has an odd psychology unleavened by kindness and charity, but where it’s all winners and losers, beating and being beat. And that’s part of the authoritarian personality, but it comes out in his attitude towards women.
As quoted in "Shields and Brooks on Trump-Cruz wife feud, ISIS terror in Brussels" (25 March 2016), PBS NewsHourDonald Trump betrays. It can start with Trump University, where Trump betrayed schoolteachers and others who dreamed of building a better life for themselves.
"Donald Trump, the Great Betrayer", The New York Times (4 March 2016)[Donald Trump is] clearly racist... It fits into a pattern that we have seen since the beginning of his career, maybe through his father's career, frankly. There's been a consistency, pattern of harsh judgment against black and brown people.
As quoted in "Shields and Brooks on Trump's 's***hole' comments, 'Fire and Fury' fallout" (14 January 2018), PBS NewshourTrump has almost nothing but a national story, which he returned to with a vengeance in the closing days of this year’s campaigns. It happens to be a cramped, reactionary and racial story. Trump effectively defines America as a white ethnic nation that is being overrun by aliens — people who don’t look like us, don’t share our values, who threaten our safety and take our jobs... [B]lood-and-soil nationalism overturns the historical ideal of American nationalism, which was pluralistic — that we are united by creed, not blood; that our common culture is defined by a shared American dream... Republicans have flocked to Trump’s cramped nationalism and abandoned their creedal story. That’s left the Democrats with a remarkable opportunity. They could seize the traditional American national story, or expand it to gather in the unheard voices, while providing a coherent, unifying vehicle to celebrate the American dream. And yet what have we heard from the Democrats? Crickets. What is the Democratic national story? A void.
"The Central Challenge of the Age: Do Democrats know what unites us?" (5 November 2018), The New York TimesAfter 30 years of multiculturalism, the bonds of racial solidarity trump the bonds of national solidarity.... [Democrats] do not have a strong story to tell about what we owe to other Americans, how we define our national borders and what binds us as Americans.
"The Central Challenge of the Age: Do Democrats know what unites us?" (5 November 2018), The New York TimesIf you don’t offer people a positive, uplifting nationalism, they will grab the nasty one. History and recent events have shown us that.
"The Central Challenge of the Age: Do Democrats know what unites us?" (5 November 2018), The New York TimesIf conservatism is ever to recover it has to achieve two large tasks. First, it has to find a moral purpose large enough to displace the lure of blood-and-soil nationalism. Second, it has to restore standards of professional competence and reassert the importance of experience, integrity and political craftsmanship. When you take away excellence and integrity, loyalty to the great leader is the only currency that remains.
"The Rise of the Resentniks: And the populist war on excellence" (15 November 2018), The New York Times
== Quotes about Brooks ==
On the eve of the war he cheered on, as he celebrated the fact that "the debate is over" and war was imminent and inevitable, he identically vowed: "Events will show who was right, George W. Bush or Jacques Chirac." Soon we would know. Did Brooks ever tell his readers what we found out about that? Did he ever acknowledge that the French -- whose opposition to attacking Iraq and skpeticism about WMD claims he attributed to cowardice, anti-Semitism, paranoia over American deceit, anti-American hatred, bad character, and lack of reason -- turned out to be right and Brooks and friends were miserably wrong? Did he ever retract his smears that the American "peace camp" was driven by hatred, anti-Semitism, and ignorance about Iraq, or acknowledge that his claims about Saddam -- that his ideology "calls for warfare, bloodshed, revolution, and conflict, on and on, against one and all, until the end of time" -- were at least just as applicable to Brooks himself and his own neoconservative movement?
Greenwald, Glenn (September 25, 2009). "David Brooks: our nation's premier expert warrior". Salon. Retrieved on May 24, 2011. He never cites any of his own views at the time, obviously hoping that readers will place him among those pundits that "got things right." And also: please forget that he was a strong supporter of the invasion to start with. In fact, he bears special blame -- shame -- not only for his writing, but for serving as senior editor of the most influential pro-war publication, The Weekly Standard.
Mitchell, Greg (March 25, 2008). "David Brooks: No Apologies 5 Years Later". Huffington Post. Retrieved on May 24, 2011.
== External links ==
David Brooks' Op-Ed columns at The New York Times