Patio Man, Deck Guy, Porch Dude and Stoop Buddy are all surprised that they still waste five minutes of their day reading David Brooks.
Brooks’ occasional use of big words and obscure references always made it seem like he knew what he was talking about. But now that he’s using their two-dimensional prototypes to lend authority to his illogical positions, they may choose to adjust to life without Brooks pretending to understand them and pretending to know what can help them prosper.
Sure, Brooks sounds like he gets what’s going on in the lives of Minivan Jane, Cubicle Charlie and Home Depot Harry when he discovers the obvious: some guys like buying barbeque grills, some people wear Crocs, and some teenagers are overachievers.
But then he abruptly imposes their prototypical lives onto his preferred policies, without any evidence that these focus group fictions actually share Brooks’ views.
Watch Brooks in action today:
Some liberals think they are headed for an age of liberal dominance and government expansion. … But the shift in public opinion is not from right to left, or from anti-government to pro-government, it’s from risk to caution, from disorder to consolidation.
There is a deep current of bourgeois culture running through American suburbia. It is not right wing, but it is conservative: a distrust of those far away; a belief in convention and respectability; and a strong reaction against anything that threatens to undermine the stability of the established order.
Democrats have done well in suburbia recently because they have run the kind of candidates who seem like the safer choice — socially moderate, pragmatic and fiscally hawkish. They, or any party, will run astray if they threaten the mood of chastened sobriety that has swept over the subdivisions.
Patio Man wants change. But this is no time for more risk or more debt. Debt in the future is no solution to the debt racked up in the past. This is a back-to-basics moment, a return to safety and the fundamentals.
Patio Man and his prototypical posse may be wondering:
Did David Brooks ask one of us if we believe that it is too risky to publicly invest in creating jobs generating affordable clean energy and modernizing infrastructure, when we’re already losing jobs by doing nothing?
Does David Brooks know that we think guaranteeing health coverage for all would lead to too much debt, even though it would save $1 trillion in health care spending over the next 10 years?
Of course, I don’t know if the cohort of caricatures is wondering that, because I didn’t ask them either.
What I do know from recent polling is that strong majorities are calling for more government involvement to get our economy back on track, want public investment in infrastructure, believe our government should guarantee health coverage for all, and are urging for government action on clean energy and global warming.
If David Brooks wants to make an argument and try to convince those less financially secure than he is that robust public investment is too risky and would add too much debt, have at it.
But don’t put words in Patio Man’s mouth, because these days he’s angry enough that he might smack you in the face with his old Sharper Image catalog and his BBQ grill brush.