Monday Morning Politics

Monday, October 27, 2008

Gail Collins and David Brooks, both op-ed columnists for the New York Times , continue their election conversation begun on the paper's Campaign Stops blog.


David Brooks and Gail Collins

Comments [55]

hustleandfloe from bed-stuy

To Dan from Brookly. True that "...the power of identity to convince people to vote against their best interests." I took identity out not to soften but to broaden.

I think we've done injustice on identity via giant pendulum swings from worshipping it as a god to completely ignoring it. There is a positive value of identity as an economy of thought and action based on trust and cultural experience. That said, it shouldn't be the driver alone, ever.

Cool to listen over on Ira Glass' show this weekend that admitted hard core, race-bent folks Pennsylvania being convinced to open up a bit. They're being convinced by other white people, long-term friends of theirs. Not all, but some are being convinced. I think that's the positive use of identity. I'm sure I could not convince as many, as an outsider and a black man.

Amazing to see how deeply entrenched such ideas are at this point, but then again, I think we've given ourselves a bit too much enlightenment credit on both sides of this coin.



Oct. 27 2008 02:22 PM

bravo to DAN from BROOKLYN

Oct. 27 2008 12:26 PM
dan from brooklyn

Re #s 33 and 47,

I agree totally with both of you. An honest discussion of race in this society would really have to be an honest discussion of white identity, white privilege and white supremacy. I think we're clearly seeing, in this election, the power of white identity to convince people to vote against their best interests. I like to imagine how the attitude of race played itself out in the segregated south: a poor white person might have been oppressed financially, limited educationally, exploited economically by those in power. Yet that person could still feel and assert a sense of superiority towards a black lawyer, doctor, teacher or minister, just because of white identity. That identity was probably one of the few things that person had going for him/her. I believe that attitude persists in many sectors of the white community today and is the driving force that would prevent people with that mindset from helping to elect a person of color to the office of president, even if doing so would be to their benefit.

Oct. 27 2008 11:27 AM
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Oct. 27 2008 11:17 AM

Ben writes:

"-Is it asking too much for able-bodied folks to take care of themselves? "

Would "able-bodied folks" include, by any chance, the Titans of Wall Street, the commercial banks, the investment banks and the insurance companies?

Oct. 27 2008 11:13 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

[45} Huh?

Oct. 27 2008 11:12 AM

Odd that Brian doesn't bring up Brooks' inconsistencies -- the difference between what Brooks tells "conservative" groups, and the tactical public positions he takes in his columns.

As with his NYT colleague, William Kristol, his activism in the Republican party is simply ignored. The idea that he's a conscious propagandist on the show, and in the NYT, is apparently too impolite to venture on, despite his vested interests and active participation in Republican party politics....

Oct. 27 2008 11:10 AM
Ben Thompson from NYC metro area

A few notes for you to consider:
-Life begins at conception. This is a scientific fact, and it is inarguable.
-350,000 black babies killed a year unfazes you, apparently. Interesting.
-Illegal aliens are included in the 47 million "Americans."
-As for the rest of the uninsured, how about this plan: buy insurance like the rest of us. Wow. What a concept.
-Is it asking too much for able-bodied folks to take care of themselves? Oh, that's right, for the left, it is.

Oct. 27 2008 11:05 AM
Linda Francis from NYC and Warwick,NY

Brian, how can you say that David Brooks' vote cant be divined from his opinion? He takes shots at Obama at every turn and acts in most of his columns as an apologist for McCain. A week ago he got the spurious achievement award from me for his column saying that Obama was presidential in every way but lacked "passion" and therefore wouldnt be a good president. Since he didnt back that silly assertion up in any way, one supposes he means that the nasty temper of McCain is evidence of passion. I am tired of hearing reading ludicrous rationalizations for irrationally held opinion put forth by "educated" people in their attempts to manipulate the public.

Oct. 27 2008 10:56 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Yeah, all those 3 week old embryos. What a tragedy. Meanwhile, 47 million Americans, including millions of children, have no health insurance.

Give me a break. To the relgious right, hypocrisy is a sacrament.

Oct. 27 2008 10:56 AM
charlie kruger from harrington park nj

i think the neocons managed to reach the ultimate extension of Reagan's "government is the problem" trope, promising to keep government irrevelant to our everyday lives. this made us feel so divorced from Washington and the macroeconomy that we became comfortable basing our votes on limbic issues like abortion or who we'd rather have a beer with at a barbecue. the only positive thing to come out of the economic oilspill is the awakening of the american electorate and the recognition that policy really matters more than folksy sound bites.

Oct. 27 2008 10:52 AM
Robbie from New York

Charles [comment 33]I think you are spot on. Ironically, the race conversation we hear speak of is not about race at all but rather about whiteness and of white privilege. Yes, I, too,highly recommend Frank Rich's column on Sunday and indeed let's put an end to silly talk about the so-called Bradley effect - for there is none. (And if even if there was an actual such phenomena should it be him who was responsible?)

Oct. 27 2008 10:46 AM
Ben Thompson from NYC metro area

A million abortions a year.
No big deal, right? Just snuff 'em out.
35% of those abortions are by black women.
Where are the bleeding hearts? Where are the race-mongers? Where's the outrage about the disproportionate rate of abortions relative to black women's percentage of the female population?
Oh, that's right. Abortion is the highest sacrament of the left and the truth must never be told.

Oct. 27 2008 10:44 AM
Inquiring Minds

@41 Karen

so is the definition of Marxism


ad hominem aside

Oct. 27 2008 10:39 AM

What are they doing with the bailout money?
Everything but making loans to help bail out the US economy, per Joe Nocera this weekend in the Times.

Oct. 27 2008 10:39 AM


Oct. 27 2008 10:38 AM
Karen from Manhattan

And, as Senator Moynihan once famously said, you're entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. The Warren court did not change US economic policy; Congress did, under FDR.

The definition of socialism is on Wikipedia, e.g. Look it up.

Oct. 27 2008 10:35 AM
Roger S from NYC

So David Brooks really believes that McCain would have unhired all the ex-Swift boaters and Karl Rove disciples that have worked his campaign if Hillary Clinton had beaten Obama for the nomination? That statement borders on Pollyanna-esque fantasy.

Oct. 27 2008 10:35 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Private property and a fair tax system are not mutually exclusive. Or do you think that Hamilton thought he'd run the U.S. national bank with money borrowed from James Madison?

Oct. 27 2008 10:34 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Ben: Why are accusing others of lying, instead of accepting the fact that many of us are not in either camp totally.

Oct. 27 2008 10:33 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Yeah, but as soon as those unborn are born, you don't give a crap whether they have a place to live, health care, parents who are employed, good schools or healthy food. Give me a break.

The "unborn" is a narcissistic fantasy indulged in by the uncaring and unthinking. You care plenty about the "mini-me's" in utero, but nothing about real families and real children.

I'm a Catholic, by the way.

Oct. 27 2008 10:32 AM
Inquiring Minds

[30] Karen

Attorneys have differing opinions -- so do political philosophers.

Private property is a foundation stone of Western Democracy.

Wealth redistribution, whether through outright confiscation, taxation, or even -- the more lately in vogue -- "incentives", fundamentally corrodes society.

That politicians are creative in generating various rationale for theft should surprise no one.

Oct. 27 2008 10:31 AM
Ben Thompson from NYC metro area

Labels are only antiquated for the left, because lefties scream like they just got tasered when folks like myself accurately describe them. This is why every few years lefties redefine themselves as centrists, or moderates, or, lately, progressives. Honestly is not a hallmark of the left, and never will be.

Oct. 27 2008 10:30 AM
Lisa from Queens

How can anyone who approves of WAR say she believes in the sanctity of human life? McCain is a long-time war hawk. Why is it okay to slaughter living babies and adults?

Oct. 27 2008 10:29 AM
Charles from Harlem

What I find interesting is the resurgence of talking about "whiteness" in the public space. Note Frank Rich's column in the Sunday NY Times.

I expect whoever wins on Nov. 4, the notions of whiteness, white-skin privilege, white supremacy, will return to public discourse in a way that hasn't been evidence since earlier in the 20th Century.

Oct. 27 2008 10:28 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Eva! I certainly understand who Henry Paulsen is. If Obama wins, perhaps, we will find out what they are really doing at the Treasury now with all of that bail out money......

Oct. 27 2008 10:28 AM
Laura from Merrick

There are some of us who will vote for McCain not because we are racist, but because we have a profound belief in the sanctity of human life, including the lives of the unborn.

Oct. 27 2008 10:27 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Inquiring, I'm an attorney (Columbia '90), and Obama was right. The Warren court addresed social issues, not underlying economic policy. That had not been addressed since the New Deal, when economic policies were legislated by Congress, not the Supreme Court (which did in fact declare some of that legislation to be unconstitutional).

Obama is not suggesting that the government take over private industry (i.e., he's not a socialist). He is advocating a more progressive tax structure, one that would put more burdens on the wealthy than on the middle class, and an optional national health insurance program. (Republicans thought that Social Security and Medicare were socialist plots.) In other words, he is not a socialist, but rather a liberal Democrat in the tradition of FDR, Truman, the Kennedys and Lyndon Johnson.

Oct. 27 2008 10:26 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Ben: I don't think that my ideology is based on envy. I think that you off base there. How do you know that I am a leftie? I think that labels are rather antiquated.

Oct. 27 2008 10:25 AM
Inquiring Minds


The aforementioned WBEZ interview is the top story on ALL of the center-right blogs.

Given the recent concerns about BHO's socialist / Marxist tendencies and the fact that McCain's focus is on "Joe the Plumber", this might be newsworthy -- even if not to David Brooks!

Oh, and the interview has a race angle too, as a bonus!

Oct. 27 2008 10:22 AM
SuzanneNYC from Upper West Side

Yesterday's On the Media debunked the Bradley Effect as pretty much non-existent whether applied to Bradley or anyone else including Obama in New Hampshire. And polling has changed in the 20 years since Bradley. There's a link on WNYC's home page to hear the segment. Listen and be enlightened.

Oct. 27 2008 10:21 AM
Micheal from Manhattan

Wait till the Dems get in and start the investigations into all the scandals the republicans want to hide... meanwhile Haliburton is "losing" all sorts of documents during their move to Dubai with the evidence and out of reach of US authorities.

Oct. 27 2008 10:20 AM
Ron Mwangaguhunga from Brooklyn

Re: Brooks and the NYTimes magazine story: Isn't it ironic that McCain's charge that Obama "doesn’t understand a tactic and a strategy" chrge now seems to characterize his campaign perfectly?

Oct. 27 2008 10:20 AM

I think Obama is the new opium for the masses ... Nothing's going to change ... We'll just feel a great big buzz...

Oct. 27 2008 10:20 AM
Elizabeth from Brooklyn, NY

Aren't all polls odious? Wouldn't we be better off without them?

Oct. 27 2008 10:19 AM
Karen from Manhattan

I have been canvassing for Obama in Scranton, Pennsylvania. There is not going to be a Bradley effect. Those who will not vote for Obama due to race are saying that they are "undecided," not that they will vore for or leaning toward Obama. I see their faces, not just statistics, and those who say that they are leaning toward Obama, are leaning toward Obama.

Oct. 27 2008 10:18 AM
JT from Long Island

I think Ms Collins is right about people generally just sticking with their party. Most republicans seemed to despise McCain during the primaries yet now they love him. And most of the times a candidate chooses an oponent from the primaries as their VP even though a few weeks earlier they were calling each other incompetent (remember Bush's "voodoo economics" RE Reagan).

However, I do think race plays enough of a role in this election to swing it towards McCain. This extreme fear/hatred of Obama cannot be attributed to party lines alone.

Oct. 27 2008 10:17 AM

#8, Susan,
They have not run out of ideas. They simply have a store room of dysfunctional ideas, or ideas that could be sound, if they weren't stretched to absurdity, e.g., deregulation to the nth degree, no oversight. This fantastical notion of control reached its apex with Paulson's three page screed giving him complete control, 700 bil, and no oversight.
In defense of Paulson, if you're going to be an evil bastard, don't do it at a middling level. Go for the gold.

Oct. 27 2008 10:16 AM
Alex from brooklyn

People have often called Brooks the kind of conservatives that liberals can like.

I think that he is the kind of opinionator that everyone should abhor. He is not falsely claiming that he was thinking like in the middle of the primaries.

There were some, though not many, who realized that Obama's numbers were not changing much within demographic groups through the primary season. How he did with each ethnic group, education level, income level, religion, etc, was pretty stable. When other contenders dropped out, Hillary picked up most of their support. Because each state has a different mixture of the groups, the overall results in the states varied. But the pieces didn't change a lot.

That's the realization that launched FiveThirtyEight.

And now Brooks claims that he was thinking that way six months ago? Why didn't he write about it?

He's a liar, trying to look smarter and wiser than he is.

And he just claimed that the results of divided government, if you look, are "just better." Repeating the assertion doesn't make it true. Not a single example.

He's an empty suit who is willing to criticize his own party. That's it.

Oct. 27 2008 10:16 AM
barry from Manhattan

Well, his Marxist bent aside it looks like he will win. Even is Obama's "share the wealth" comments were merely red meat for the left, there are plent of dolk n congress who are inclined to raise them taxes, not cut em.
So whatever version of "Marxism" we get it will likely include higher taxes.
I think the most importatn thing is if he can use the power of his personality to "bring the country together"
and provide leadership on the world stage.
They should not cut Defense but instead continue the transformation that Rumsfeld started.

Oct. 27 2008 10:13 AM
Brendan from Manhattan

If elections hinge on party performance and not perceived character, how was Bush re-elected in 2004?

Oct. 27 2008 10:13 AM
Jesse Califano from TPA & NYC

Jesse Califano: 'The unspoken word- written'!

I understand that at the recent hip-hop rap music awards- the MC signed off and entreated his audience to: "Vote Black"!

Rece being the sub-text in this election: I believe that conservative 'White America' will not vote for, and elect a half-term, half-black liberal senator to be the President of the United States.

Oct. 27 2008 10:13 AM
David from Queens

Does Sarah Palin seem like the GOP John Edwards? Making a big splash with the base as VP Candidate but somewhat dubious as a Pres Candidate down the road after a Nov. loss?

Oct. 27 2008 10:13 AM


Somehow, I think you'll live if the wealth is redistributed.

One of the weird aspects of the Joe the Plumber fear of "socialism" is that the people who fear it most usually need it most.

In the end, the guy didn't even net 250K - just 40K. No reason to dis him, but a good reason to ask him why, exactly, he feared "redistribution" or, in real life terms, a tax break for people in his income group.

This country is made up of people who walk around thinking they're going to hit the small business version of the lottery. Meanwhile, countries like France can actually provide universal health care. And this delusion about their eventual personal riches, IM, is the unbelievable part.

Oct. 27 2008 10:13 AM
Inquiring Minds

transcript, part 2:

Barack Obama: "It didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the Federal government can’t do to you, but doesn’t say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn’t shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that."

Oct. 27 2008 10:10 AM
Inquiring Minds

transcript of aforementioned interview...

Barack Obama: "If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I’d be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn’t that radical...."

Oct. 27 2008 10:09 AM
Tony from San Jose, CA

What about the so called Bradley effect? Polls may not be accurate.

Oct. 27 2008 10:09 AM
Howard from Kew Gardens

How do labels like Marxist mean anything these days in a practical sense? Isn't what the President and Congress did with the bailout socialist? Isn't it a redistribution of wealth? Do these labels mean anything?

Oct. 27 2008 10:08 AM
Susan from Kingston, New York

Ben, why are you even bothering with the argument about Marxism? Have you, Republicans run out of ideas?

Oct. 27 2008 10:08 AM
Inquiring Minds

Please discuss the recently-made-available 2001 interview of Barack Obama by WBEZ-FM

In which B.H.O. basically says that the Warren Court did not go far enough in REDISTRIBUTING WEALTH, that this was a failure of the civil rights movement, and that this COULD BE accomplished legislatively.

Simply unbelievable.

Oct. 27 2008 10:06 AM
Howard from Kew Gardens

Why hasn't anyone in the press asked McCain how he has been tested when he says he's been tested. Is he referring to when he was a POW? If so, does that make any sense to equate being tested as a POW and being tested as a president?!?

Oct. 27 2008 10:06 AM
maya from NYC

can we put together a list of all Republicans and conservatives who have endorsed Obama, let's see:

Colin Powell
ex-Bush spokesguy Scott McCellan
ex Rep governor of Minn
son of Bill Buckley
ex Rep governor of Mass William Weld

who am I missing?

(and don't forget Alaska's biggest paper, Anchorage Daily News, over the weekend endorsed Obama....:)

Oct. 27 2008 09:56 AM
Ben Thompson from NYC metro area

Um- the red baiting is true. In his 2001 comments that have recently been aired, Obama actually said that the Warren court wasn't "that radical." OK; interesting take. Then he goes on to talk about redistributive change. Seeing Marx and Engels' ideas to fruition seems to be a recurring theme, no? At least we're learning what "change we can believe in" actually means.
I'm not sorry to say Marxism is totally antithetical to America's heritage of liberty and private property rights.
It's laughable that any of you on the left even try to deny Obama's marxist views. You would prove me wrong, if only you could. It's undeniable and this country is going to suffer for it.

Oct. 27 2008 09:56 AM
seth from Long Island

Sarah Palin's science illiteracy is breathtaking and unacceptable for someone who aspires to be Vice President

Oct. 27 2008 09:48 AM
seth from Long Island

The Financial Times has endorsed Obama.

Will McCain and Palin now accuse the Financial Times of being socialist?
The red baiting that McCain and Palin have employed is disgusting and obscene.

Oct. 27 2008 09:21 AM

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