By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

“The left’s favorite conservative”

Good Howard Kurtz profile today of New York Times columnist David Brooks.

Though I often disagree with Brooks, I’ve always liked his work. So it was somewhat disconcerting to read that my admiration for Brooks borders on cliché: according to Kurtz, Brooks is “sometimes cast as the left’s favorite conservative.”

Fair enough. Brooks is, after all a moderate conservative whose views on cultural issues are a lot closer to mine than, say, to Mike Huckabee’s.

I thought it took a while for Brooks to find his legs as a Times columnist. His longer pieces in the Weekly Standard and the Atlantic Monthly were terrific. At the Times, though, the tyranny of having to write short and the pressure of being the token conservative seemed to lead him to write agit-prop that I doubted even he believed.

Brooks has long since found his voice, though, as evidenced by his nuanced, shifting view of Barack Obama. Of course, he may just be trying to keep his Obama-supporting wife and kids happy.

Photo (cc) by DoubleSpeak with Matthew and Peter Slutsky and republished here under a Creative Commons license. Some rights reserved.

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  1. Don, American

    There is no such thing as a moderate conservative. Moderate is a code word for “liberal in hiding.”

  2. Steve

    Don, you’re not by any chance related to Lazlo Toth, are you?

  3. Doug Shugarts

    True of false: George Will is a moderate conservative?

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Doug: I think Will is a plain, old-fashioned conservative — not a moderate like Brooks. But Will, unlike many of his brethren, is a reality-based conservative.

  5. O'Rion

    Brooks hit Kerry with a cheap shot on “News Hour” saying he failed the “Joshua Test.” This meant that the Senator didn’t show Brooks’s child enough attention in the green room at PBS. Kerry was running for president and preparing for surgery at the time. But doting fathers of a certain tribe see things very personally. Brooks continues to game NY Times readers the way he worked a tv audience over the hurt feelings of Joshua.

  6. Ani

    “[O]f a certain tribe”?

  7. Doug Shugarts

    Dan: Agreed. And Will has consistently argued for restraint in all things, a principle that today’s faux conservatives abandoned long ago.

  8. The Larkin

    Brooks is full of it. In a way, he’s *worse* than the overtly ludicrous Rush Limbaughs and Sean Hannitys of the world. You sense Brooks has a modicum of intelligence, and therefore he has no excuse for, as he did for *years*, excusing and apologizing for George W. Bush in the most fake “nuanced” yet actually reliably kneejerk fashion. Then after Hurricane Katrina, he more or less stopped writing about politics, favoring college-freshman-essay-style pseudo-philosophical treatises. Now the best he can do is say things like (as he did last week on NPR) “both” candidates are “moronic.” That’s the classic fallback of the most run-of-the-mill conservative — “All politicians are bad,” when their guys are so clearly the more evil or incompetent by far. Liberals who like or pretend to like Brooks are either incredibly wishy-washy and easily persuaded, or they are grasping at thin straws because they (understandably) would like to think of themselves as open-minded, or would like to think of this as a nation of generally reasonable people, where the political discourse is civil and smart on both sides. Sorry, I don’t buy it.

  9. Don, American

    Steve, would that were I as clever as the hilarious comedian Don Novello.

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