Lisa Miller interviews ‘American Prophet’ David Brooks on the publication of his new book The Second Mountain. The opening paragraph is a wonder of history made to measure, swimming in overwrought melodrama. Television kitsch dominates the inner lives of Americans. The black and white photo illustration to this feature article is indicative of its content:
It was 2013, and David Brooks was in the wilderness. Not the literal desert or jungle or anything like that, but the emotional wilderness of an accomplished man who, in midlife, has discovered a deep emptiness at his core. His marriage of 27 years was falling apart. The genteel conservatism in which he was nurtured and raised was morphing into something craven, naked, and raw. Lonely and living alone in an apartment in Washington, D.C., Brooks, 52 at the time, took stock and saw that in his rise to the pinnacle of American punditry, he had failed to make or keep meaningful friendships. And what was happening to him, Brooks writes in his new book, The Second Mountain, was happening on a nationwide scale. “The crisis in our politics is created by the crisis in our sociology and in our relationships — and in our morals,” he told me, looking preppy, eager, and somewhat slighter than I’d imagined, as we sat drinking coffee at a chain restaurant near Carnegie Hall.
This sentence rewrites Mr. Brooks’ beginnings as protege to the Wm. F. Buckley, there was noting ‘genteel’ about this Conservative gargoyle:
The genteel conservatism in which he was nurtured and raised was morphing into something craven, naked, and raw.
The Midwives of Trump across the political spectrum are still unable to confront their responsibility for helping to birth this political monster. But Mr. Brooks narrates that rise in self-serving terms. His existential crisis, the rise of Trump, the crisis in our sociology, in our relationships and morals, are folded together to produce a personal/political/sociological/moral crisis. In sum the personal,intellectual, moral describes a crisis on a Cosmic Scale, with Brooks in a central role as sufferer and commentator. Call this a role of breathtaking scope.
“The crisis in our politics is created by the crisis in our sociology and in our relationships — and in our morals,”
But Brooks’ life was reinvigorated by:
His emotionally arid existence bloomed again, thanks to the loving presence of a woman — Anne Snyder, his researcher at the New York Times and 23 years his junior.
Neo-Liberal advocate/apologist and Iraq War enthusiast finds love with a woman 23 years younger than himself. Who writes a book about his experience of ‘renewal’, the stuff of Television Kitsch!