John has already commented on David Brooks’ rather pitiful lament that President Obama “is not who we thought he was.” By “we,” Brooks says he means “those of us who consider ourselves moderates.” But I know moderates who understood that Obama was a hard-core left-liberal. The evidence of this — Obama’s record as a Senator and his history of leftist and radical associations — was as accessible to moderates as it was to those of other persuasions.
Brooks, then, was spectacularly wrong about Barack Obama. But if his error has induced introspection, there is no evidence of it in the column from which John quotes. Instead, speaking once again on behalf of moderates everywhere, Brooks lashes out at the Republican party:
On the right, there are the Rush Limbaugh brigades. The only thing more scary than Obama’s experiment is the thought that it might fail and the political power will swing over to a Republican Party that is currently unfit to lead it.
Accordingly, Brooks calls for a “moderate manifesto” in the Hamiltonian tradition of “limited but energetic government.” Ironically, this is more or less what the Republican candidate for president offered in 2008. Brooks, though, didn’t seem to be interested then, having somehow convinced himself that Obama was the true moderate. Now, he has somehow convinced himself that Republican party is monolithically reactionary.
Before one can discover that elusive “third way,” one must understand the first two. Brooks has struggled lately in this regard.