Riddle me this blogosphere, why does anyone take David Brooks seriously as a political prognosticator when he writes transparently wrong things like this:
The current sour mood is not just caused by high unemployment. It emerges from the fear that America’s best days are behind it. The public’s real anxiety is about values, not economics: the gnawing sense that Americans have become debt-addicted and self-indulgent; the sense that government undermines individual responsibility; the observation that people who work hard get shafted while people who play influence games get the gravy. Obama will have to propose policies that re-establish the link between effort and reward.
This might be true for David Brooks -- enter the Pundit's Fallacy -- but it strikes me as a bit too abstract for the average American. Hell, it's a bit too abstract for me. It makes a lot more sense to say that that the public's sour mood comes mostly -- if not entirely -- from high unemployment. In at least 11 states, unemployment is pushing past 10 percent, and in some areas -- like Pontiac, Michigan -- unemployment has rocketed well into the 30 percent range. People aren't worried about America's "debt-addiction" -- most Americans can neither identify nor explain the budget deficit; they are worried about keeping their job, saving their home, and providing for their family.
It's worth saying that this wasn't the worst portion of Brooks column -- no, that distinction goes to the paragraph immediately preceding the one I quoted:
Over the next two years, Obama will have to show that he is a traditionalist on social matters and a center-left pragmatist on political ones. Culturally, he will have to demonstrate that even though he comes from an unusual background, he is a fervent believer in the old-fashioned bourgeois virtues: order, self-discipline, punctuality and personal responsibility. Politically, he will have to demonstrate that he is data-driven — that even though he has more faith in government than most Americans, he will relentlessly oppose programs when the evidence shows they don’t work.
Because Obama -- the Kansas-raised anti-gay-marriage, pro-business pragmatist -- hasn't done that already.
-- Jamelle Bouie