Slapping around David Brooks some more

According to David Brooks, what’s wrong with our country isn’t that our leaders are corrupt, controlled by corporate America or making self-serving financial decisions at the cost of the 99 percent: It’s that we don’t trust them and respect them enough.
Brooks’ column from a couple of months back explains that our leaders are “immeasurably superior” but our puerile fixation on everyone being created equal makes us question them. Well, that and cynicism: Our 21st century government and financial leaders are just as good as the last century, but we’re too cynical to trust them. We think (horrors!) they might be enriching themselves at our expense. And we have the temerity and “vanity” to question their judgment, telling ourselves “Those people at the top are nowhere near as smart or as wonderful as pure and all-knowing Me.” Hell, we don’t even put up monuments that glorify our leaders’ wisdom—the Vietnam Memorial doesn’t make us think about the greatness of leadership for instance (having been reading about Vietnam lately, I find that even funnier than I normally would).
Okay, this is coming from Brooks, who routinely pontificates about how America’s problem is the immorality of the 99 percent and never corruption among bankers, brokers, vulture capitalists or mortgage lenders. It still pisses me off.
In the first place, does anyone seriously believe our political leaders are some kind of superior superhumans? Some sure (though we might disagree on which ones) but most? There’s only one thing we know they’re superior at, and that’s getting elected—which as George W. Bush showed is a very different thing from being a superior leader once in office.
In the second place, if anything we should be questioning authority more, not less. One of the things that got us into the Iraq War was that nobody asked questions. Too many people, including a lot of the press, swallowed Bush’s claims at face value. A lot of them asserted that Bush must know what he’s doing based on “secret intelligence,” so we had to trust him. Brooks himself blithely asserted that anyone who thought the Iraq war was going to go south was a “chicken little”—we were building a shining beacon of freedom, and we had no need to worry about insurgency or the like (as of 2004).
(Perhaps that’s his real problem. Brooks’ theories about pretty much everything are bullshit. When he’s talking about how we should shut up and respect our superiors, maybe he means we should shut up and stop criticizing him).
I agree that we have to trust our leaders up to a point. And it’s worth debating where the point is. But under Bush, our government violated the Constitution and the law by torture, illegal wiretapping and locking up people without trial. Under Obama we have American citizens targeted and executed on no basis but the president’s say-so.
I think we passed the point of blind trust about 10 years ago.


Filed under Politics

7 responses to “Slapping around David Brooks some more

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