David Brooks Makes Fun of…?

David Brooks’ column in the NYT is a bit odd.  The piece, The Real Romney, is a tongue-in-cheek biography of Mitt Romney.  One assumes that he is making fun of the way Romney’s political opponents have tried to present Romney.  The problem is, not unlike the Kevin Williamson piece that was discussed here at OTB last week, the piece could just as easily be a tongue-in-cheek criticism of Romney’s campaign.

FILED UNDER: 2012 Election, US Politics, , , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. I read that earlier. It just struck me as weird … and more a Mitt criticism than a Mitt defense.

    I was reading something else this week, which Mark Thoma cunningly renames:

    David Brooks is ‘a Slippery Fellow’

    Among my favorite columnists is David Brooks, of The New York Times. One reason is because he’s unpredictable. I never know when I begin to read where he might end up.

  2. wr says:

    Because Brooks has the same mastery of the subtle arts of humor as Romney himself…

  3. James Joyner says:

    “David Brooks’ column in the NYT is a bit odd” could be a regular feature. Maybe we should trademark it.

  4. EddieInCA says:

    If by “odd” you all mean, “he completely eviscerates Romney for having no principles, no core message, and no humanity”, then yes, it was odd.

    I’m guessing Mr. Brooks has had enough of Mr. Romney, and is telling the world loud and clear that Romney, the man, while successful in business, has no business running for president.

  5. Fiona says:

    I found that piece quite funny, and I’m no big fan of David Brooks. It’s a pretty successful skewering of Romney on all of his weak spots. One gets the impression that Brooks is none to fond of the Mittster. And, if he does indeed like Romney, well–with friends like Brooks. . .

  6. Facebones says:

    Usually, there is no better apologist for the Respectable Republicans than Bobo Brooks. If even HE can’t get enthused about Romney, then it’s going to be cold November for Republicans.

  7. @James Joyner: Indeed.

  8. @EddieInCA: @Facebones: @Fiona: The thing is, I am not sure what his goal was. As I noted: it could be interpreted as critique of the way the opposition is painting Romney or it could be a dig at Romney and his campaign.

  9. Fiona says:

    @Steven: I have no idea what Brooks’ motives were either, but the piece nonetheless comes off as a takedown, and a brutally funny one at that.

  10. EddieInCA says:

    Dr. Taylor –

    I’m sorry, but you’re overthinking it. Brooks is a smart man. The simplest answer is usually the easiest the one most likely to be true.

    He adds all of Mitt’s greatest hits, (I like to fire people. Dog on car. Born rich. Loves rich white men. etc), and rolls them up into one piece to completely hammer the guy.

    If he was trying to make another point, he failed miserably. And if he was, we can expect him to appear on PBS tonight trying to clarify his column. But I doubt it.

  11. gVOR08 says:

    What the frack!? Brooks is a reliable establishment Republican apparatchik posing as a bipartisan moderate while really being the world’s champion concern troll. I can’t see any explanation for this column except that the cognitive dissonance built up past redline and he’s finally completely lost his mind.

  12. @gVOR08:

    I think he’s taken his “unpredictable” reputation to heart. And of course, any writer likes attention.

  13. grumpy realist says:

    I was going to say I didn’t find it funny, but then I though: I guess it is funny, for David Brooks.

    (Dear Molly. How we miss you. (Sigh).)

    I still think the best description of Mitt Romney came from Jon Huntsman, who called him a “perfectly lubricated weather-vane.”

  14. al-Ameda says:

    David Brooks is polished, and he writes a lot of stuff that goes along these lines:

    “Mitt Romney is inauthentic and phony, and he comes across as arrogant and narcissistic, completely out of touch with average Americans. But, Obama has disappointed us, we thought he was going to unite us. Mitt Romney is the best choice for our future.”

    One actually believes that he’s going to be bipartisan, then he throws in the unrelated conclusion. It’s the op-ed equivalent of bait-and-switch and he’s very good at it.

  15. James Joyner says:

    @al-Ameda: He’s in many ways a Republican analogue of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, if perhaps not quite as bright.

  16. wrb says:

    Sorry, this isn’t “odd.” It is a Brooks is cutting Romney to shreds with deadly accuracy. I think Brooks has realized that Romney has sold out to the knuckle draggers and and economic rape and pillagers and is to much of a good government guy to go along.

  17. Rick Almeida says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I wondered about this myself, but if it’s some sort of 3-degrees removed criticism of the Obama campaign, that’s some serious 12-dimensional chess.

  18. al-Ameda says:

    @James Joyner:

    @al-Ameda: He’s in many ways a Republican analogue of Daniel Patrick Moynihan, if perhaps not quite as bright.

    I think Brooks is a very intelligent person.

    I also believe that people are more in service to the political party that generally fits their ideology than they want to admit. People want to be considered independent and objective despite their political affiliation.

    I suppose I’m saying that Brooks may actually agree with Democrats that Romney is very flawed, and that there are too many philistines in the GOP, however he’s going to vote for Romney because the GOP is home and it embodies a worldview that he agrees with more than the one that Democrats have. I believe most people behave in a similar manner.

    Speaking for myself, in statewide or national elections, I am reluctant to vote for Republicans because in addition to the type of Republican I might be tempted to vote for , I know that I’m also going to get a bunch of people like Steve King, Eric Cantor, Michele Bachmann and Paul Ryan whom I have no interest in, and that the Republican I vote for will have zero influence.

  19. OzarkHillbilly says:

    Well, I never thought I would use this word in reference to a David Brooks column, but that was pure genius. Knowing it came from him only made me laugh harder.

  20. Mary G says:

    Rat jumping from the sinking ship?

  21. Tillman says:

    After reading that, all I can say is it’s a good thing David Brooks doesn’t write for Cracked.

  22. gVOR08 says:

    Thinking further, I wonder if Brooks is planning a series of anti-Obama columns and is trying to inoculate himself against charges of partisanship. “Didn’t you see that hard hitting column I wrote in late August slamming Romney? How can you say I’m partisan?

    ” Sort of like W saying once and only once that Saddam didn’t have WMDs.

  23. bill says:

    but then why would anyone want to read the nyt’s- it’s golden age ended long ago, and they never had comics anyway. the opinions page is so heavily censored it’s not even fun, aside from reading the opinions that actually make it….what a disaster they turned into.

  24. MarkedMan says:

    James, Moynihan was my senator and I used to read his books and I can say “Son, I knew Daniel Patrick Moynihan and David Brooks is no Daniel Patrick Moynihan.” Well, I guess I can’t actually say that, but it sounds good. I always felt that Moynihan’s ultimate tragedy was being elected a Senator from a powerful state in the cushy collegial senate days, and being good at it. There was almost nothing he could say that would cost him the next election. I always felt he was a Cassandra, accurately warning against the looming future but the mob just said “Yeah, yeah, but what about those highway funds?”

    Brooks, on the other hand, made a different deal with his own devil. If he wants to keep his column and his speaking fees, he is only allowed to really come down on the Repubs every 4.27 months, and in the interim must feed his readers pablum. He seems to combat this by focusing a substantial number of columns on issues of the mind and brain development, a subject he obviously has a passion for.

  25. gVOR08 says:


    He seems to combat this by focusing a substantial number of columns on issues of the mind and brain development, a subject he obviously has a passion for.

    Albeit no apparent expertise. Maybe he should be like George Will and fall back to baseball when he realizes he has nothing to say.