Tuesday, March 23, 2010

It would be a Freudian slip if anyone still cared

David Brooks today:
Nobody knows how this bill [health care reform] will work out. It is an undertaking exponentially more complex than the Iraq war, for example.
No one but a clueless American chauvinist, a ruling class errand boy whose glib imperialist assumptions are dyed so deep as to be practically reflexes, could say such a thing. I have no idea how this comment made it into Brooks' otherwise anodyne column, perched alongside such banal (yet desperate) acts of projection as, "But to me, [health care reform] feels like the end of something, not the beginning of something." But in fact that's the whole point: it makes sense to the embodiment of conservative "sensibility" to consider a tepid Nixonian bill "more complex" than the near-complete dismantling of a state's infrastructure, institutions, public health, and basic security. It's not merely the obvious absurdity of comparing an outcome of our enfeebled democratic process (imagine that, majorities passing legislation!) to a war of aggression that's on display here, but the callous, unblinking attitude that suggests to its bien-pensant possessor that the massive infliction of violence half a world away can be considered a relatively tidy exercise, a clean-up job that somewhere along the way "tragically" got bogged down with unnecessary complications. Funny how just a few sentences in a Times column can so perfectly exemplify the traditional and (for the foreseeable future) ineradicable rot at the heart of our national political thinking.

Brooks' comments can be construed as expressing this truth, though: unlike the Iraq war, the passage of health care reform did not enjoy bi-partisan support.