AFTER THE ELECTION, WHAT’S NEXT?
It’s no secret that I admire David Brooks, columnist for The New York Times and political commentator on PBS. I became interested in his writing style many years ago with his popular book “Bobos in Paradise” which so succinctly described the lifestyle of baby boomers. I often clip his columns when they appear in our local newspaper.
During the recent presidential campaign, Brooks was generally critical of Donald Trump but always found some redeeming issue in the Trump rhetoric for comment. As it became more obvious that Trump might win the Republican nomination, Brooks launched an editorial campaign advising the GOP leadership to regroup and try to introduce an alternative candidate at the Republican convention if Trump failed to win the first ballot.
During the months before election day, it was obvious that Brooks could not see Donald Trump as a leader of our nation. He served as a member of the PBS team commenting on the presidential debates, and remained open-minded sharing thoughtful comments about the status of the campaign with his panel of colleagues.
I was curious what he would have to say after November 8. I watched carefully every day for the local newspaper to print his column. It finally came 16 days later filled with Brooks’ reflections about how Trump pulled off his remarkable victory. I will paraphrase several of his quotes that are often difficult to interpret. Does the columnist believe a Trump presidency will be good for the country?
His advice to the GOP leadership about regrouping for a new agenda is to really learn what this election is teaching them. The results of the balloting shows a preference for leaders to toughen up and crack through the dysfunction in Congress. The first of Trump’s appointments for senior staff and cabinet represent the “densest concentration of hyper-macho belligerence outside a drill sergeant retirement home.”
This comment was specifically directed at Steve Bannon who has taken a hard position on many of Trump’s campaign promises about immigrants, Obamacare and trade agreements. “The globalists gutted the American working class and created the middle class in Asia.” Then he continued with his promise that the political movement is “everything related to jobs.”
“Orthodox Republicans spent the past 30 years talking grandly about entrepreneurialism while the social fabric around their core voters disintegrated,” Brooks noted. He specifically referred to the school system that doesn’t produce skilled graduates and the universal healthcare exchanges that are failing. There is a need to “win back some credibility the old-fashioned way of effective reform.”
The reference I enjoyed the most was to Donald Trump’s bigotry and narcissism that Brooks referred to as “outrage du jour.”
During the primary election marathon, Brooks had stronger words in his column to describe Donald Trump. After the first debate, he wrote that Trump represents capitalism degraded and lies with abandon. He referred to the candidate as “a scuzzy version of the capitalist type.” I had to look that one up: it means disgusting. Those are strong words at a time when it seemed very unlikely that Trump could be a viable candidate for the president of the country.
A little later in the campaign, Brooks acknowledge that “Republican officeholders weren’t really for Trump but they weren’t really against him; they sort of endorsed him implicitly while trying to change the subject.” He also acknowledged that Trump was not a normal candidate as his “speech patterns are something straight out of a psychiatric textbook.”
After reviewing Brooks’ comments over a period of four months, I am not sure where he stands on the Trump presidency. Obviously not a fan, but still willing to interpret where the president-elect is going in formation of his cabinet and senior staff.
In the most recent column, Brooks predicted a different electorate under the Trump administration. The actual voters will be not just the financiers and think-tank johnnies. The composition of Congress will be made of different caucuses, floating coalitions rather than just follow the leader.
Brooks sees a a Trump-dominated populist movement including a Libertarian Freedom Caucus, a Bernie Sanders-Elizabeth Warren Progressive Caucus and a Nancy Pelosi Democratic Old Guard Caucus.
With the stock markets booming and Trump’s cabinet appointments raising eyebrows, it’s going to be rollercoaster ride for the next three months.