Tuesday, February 3, 2009

David Brooks, Ward Three Morality, The Poor Rich, and Sublimated Rage

Normally there's no room for special guest loons on the international landscape - there's too little time, and anyway any thoughts by loons outside our very own Australian loon pond are swiftly regurgitated by the local loons, who just love to have beaks shoved down their throats and a specially refined porridge of bugs and bran pumped into their stomachs (thereby conveniently bypassing the brain).

Now that little Billy Kristol has left The New York Times, poor David Brooks is one of the few resident right wing loons left in the house, and he doesn't quite know how to handle it, verging from moderate Obama praise to attempts at rational conversations to attempts at humor which, well, it has to be said, which are quite sad.

Take his latest flourish, a humorous column grandly entitled Ward Three Morality, which is all about the plight of the super rich - you know the ponces and gits that think they can still spend billions in bonuses and flash living, having fucked the American economy in general and fucked their very own companies in very specific ways.

Brooks seems in two comical minds about this, because he seems to be upset for the rich, who might be down to their last four hundred million or so. And they way they don't seem to realize that their general failure, and need to apply to government for help, has opened them up to a medieval morality play where they are ritually humiliated and deprived of their perks.

This allows Brooks to take a series of sideswipes at Ward Three, a section of Northwest Washington DC where senior Democratic staff live. These folk are the petty minded bureaucrats who are giving the the rich a hard time, mainly according to Brooks because of "Sublimated Liquidity Rage", "Status-Income Disequilibrium", and "Status rivalries endemic to the upper-middle class": 

As law school grads, they reset B-school grads. As Washingtonians, they resent New Yorkers. As policy wonks, they resent people with good bone structure.

In short, people in Ward Three disdain three things: cleavage, hunting and dumb people who are richer than they are. Rich people have to learn to adapt to the new power structure if they hope to survive.

Golly gee, and there I was thinking it might have had something to do with businessmen who couldn't run a business, who drove America and the world into the ground. You don't need cleavage or hunting skills to do that, not even Dick Cheney, whatever you might think about his man breasts and the way he handles a shotgun.

Typically, Brooks omits a few key indicators. Ward Three types particularly detest smart arse Canadians who go American and pretend to be New Yorkers, especially those who specialise in NPR wonkery and public policy professorships, while trying to be political pundits with a hawkish right wing bent (except when they change their minds about Iraq). 

If there comes a time when The New York Times has to do more than mortgage its building - like you know reach out to government to save a national institution with a liberal bent - won't there be laughs and chuckles when it goes the way of all those Hearst rags that went before it.

But really who does Brooks think is the problem here? The rich who fucked up, or the bureaucrats who perforce now have to deal with them as they come caps in hand to Washington, chirping like Olivers for more gruel (with super rich enhanced potent bonus vitamin C)? 

If the rich had done their jobs, and not been so happy to take mind blowing risks, they could have gone on their fat cat ways and no one would have been the wiser. Or cared much, since the rich will always be with us, and so it goes.

Instead they spent too much time at the country club playing golf, and too little time actually checking the books. 

Brooks suggests a few mournful strategies: 

 ... there are times when Masters of the Universe must be the Masters of the Grovel. If you are a hedge fund manage and you find yourself in conversation with a person from Ward Three, apologize for ruining the Hamptons, and subsequently, the entire global economy.

What you must realize, above all, is the rich no longer control the economy and its mores. Ward Three people do, and their rule has just begun.

Darn tooting, and there's a long hard rain gunna fall. It's payback time, and now as people look around, they're going to look at newspapers of record like the NY Times, and check the record. And see how it utterly failed in its mission throughout the Bush years. Brooks, who purports an even handed attempt at credibility, is amongst the most notable and inept, perhaps flinching when Bush spoke but still going along with the lah lah fruitloops making the policy settings these first long eight years of the new century.

It might be fun for satirical opinion writers to pound away at the envious bureaucrats in the Third Ward, but it's even more fun pounding the rich when they're down (since the rich are never really out, they just stash their assets in all kinds of handy rainy day places).  And it's especial fun to pound The New York Times and their hapless vaguely conservative, hopelessly last year columnists, who think a bit of Washington bashing might provide a bit of harmless distraction, a jolly jape for the long suffering residents of the Hamptons.

Tell your readership to eat their government funded cake while they can Mr. Brooks, because something tells me we're all going to be eating gruel for a long time because of the incompetence of the pillars of American business, finance and industry. (Let's all have a laugh along with the captains of the US car industry for a start).

Meantime, what's the bet that at some point some Australian pundit will feel the need to do a satirical piece about the team of Ruddster bureaucrats lurking in some Canberra suburb, and the mindless way they cruelly deal with neo Liberals, small business, large business and Malcolm Turnbull (oops, sorry, I forgot Gerard, neo Liberals never existed, and certainly not in Australia, and calling Malcolm a flag changing Republican wannabe is a vicious slur when everyone knows he's really a merchant banker and a millionaire who knows where all the bodies are buried).

Oh yes, we're in for a fun year, and the queasy, uneasy humor of David Brooks is already making me feel seasick.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

In Australia we'd call this cheap, low, smart arse undergraduate humor, on about a par with Mad Magazine, or maybe more like Cracked. A grain of truth, a smidgin of insight, and very few laughs.

It's easy to be funny if you're a well paid New York Times columnist; not so funny if you happen to have just lost a job. Brooks might have started out a humorist, but now he needs gag writers.

As well as doing the three funniest Ward Three jokes, Brooks could do a column on the 10 funniest things rich people can do when they pass people living in the street while on their way to pick up their government paid bonuses. You know, like give them a good kicking for being slackers.