David Brooks on Ryan’s Biggest Mistake by Almost Marx

The great crusade of the Free Marketeers in the wake of economic collapse of 2008 and the subsequent demonstration of the indefatigable thievery of Capital is to manufacture a usable political hysteria about the 'debt crisis'. Now, if the economy was performing at pre 2008 levels, would there even be a question? Add to that another question: why is Capital performing so poorly? Where is the self-correcting market of contemporary Conservative lore and legend? Like Chicken Little, David Brooks can't stop himself from announcing, in his usual cheap moralizing tone, that the sky is falling: the ever growing debt, while ignoring the continuing crisis of Capital itself as a cancerous growth that continues to do it's dirty work unimpeded. No, no Mr. Brooks will have none of that nonsense, it would interfere with his attempt to set the terms of political debate. The Ryan Budget and Simpson-Bowles Commission could simply be separate iterations of the mirage of austerity or another example of the Neo-Liberal swindle. At the center of Mr. Brooks' essay is a minor quibble with Rep. Ryan, in that he did not support Simpson -Bowles which takes center stage in this collection of political conjectures that lead to the conclusion that David Brooks exercises a knowledge that leads to a cul de sac, although argued with a certain aplomb. Mr. Brooks never stops being brilliant even when it leads to a dead end.

But let us not tarry, here, in the last two paragraphs is the anticipated denouement of the essay:

In the real world, leaders have a dual consciousness. They have a campaign consciousness in which they argue for the policies they think are best for the country. But then they have a governing consciousness, a mind-set they put on between elections. It says: O.K., this is the team the voters have sent to Washington. How can we navigate our divides to come up with something suboptimal but productive?

Paul Ryan has a great campaign consciousness, and, when it comes to things like Medicare reform, I agree with him. But when he voted no on the Simpson-Bowles plan he missed the chance to show that he also has a governing consciousness. He missed the chance to do something good for the country, even if it wasn’t the best he or I would wish for.”

The governing and the campaign consciousness: the master ideas, the summa of Mr. Brooks labors might be considered as elementary. But as one contemplates the Republican Party and it's addiction to a notion and practice of political purity, in the now ascendant Tea Party ideology, casts Rep. Ryan's failure to endorse Simpson-Bowles as ideologically consistent politics, of a very proscribed kind. Having not one iota of relevance to governance, which has been discarded as not politically usable, while obstructionism is adopted as a strategy of defeating President Obama, by blocking any attempted melioration. Politics is about the art of the possible, that is based on the good faith of all political actors. The campaign to defeat Obama is about the foreclosure of politics into a strategy of the pursuit of victory through political nihilism. We could most productively view Mr. Brooks' critique of Rep. Ryan as an attempt to burnish his credentials as a thoughtful conservative with his liberal readers.

Almost Marx

About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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