To Republicans, bureaucrats are like herpes: when the body politic is under stress, they proliferate. David Brooks is the Blistex Republicans hope will make their bout of bureaucrats shorter and less painful.

Mr. Brooks’ nominal topic is about an aspiration many share, but one the GOP’ers associate with Ralph Nader and DFH’s. That is, that suburban sprawl can be slowed and we can return to an earlier model where homes and jobs, food and tools were clustered more closely together. By extension, that aspiration includes eco-planning generally. That’s the stuff of progressive urban planners, who are increasingly in demand in Europe. Urban planners, of course, are often bureaucrats:

You may not know it to look at them, but urban planners are human and have dreams.

He means “pipe dreams” that in his view are neither pragmatic nor shared by “real” Americans. What is his support for that opinion? The latest Pew Research study about where Americans would most like to live that’s roaring across the front pages. Except that the two are apples and oranges.

Mr. Brooks doesn’t critique the Pew study or put it in context. Nor does he wrestle with substance, like the long average commutes Americans with jobs endure and pay for, or the 1500 miles the average grocery store item travels from its source through processing to your table. He doesn’t wonder whether we can afford our preferences, or what the trade-offs might be if we could. Asking those questions, let alone answering them, would not suit his purpose. He’s here to sell more, “Don’t worry, be happy.”

Mr. Brooks does that by substituting ‘urban planners” for progressive Americans, and equates their dreams with living in Amsterdam:

Amsterdam is a wonderful city, but Americans never seem to want to live there.

Amsterdam is a fantasy reference replete with irrelevant and negative stereotypes for GOP’ers: tulips, wooden shoes, smelly cheese, Hans Brinker’s silver skates, and window shopping that would make a Macy’s maven blanche. Its police channel pot smokers into cafes instead of prison. And, of course, there’s the International Criminal Court a few kilometers away at The Hague. Harrumph. All beside the point. (I’d live there in a heartbeat, if I could afford the rent. I’d even learn to say my Dutch “g”, which sounds like gargling with marshmallows. But heck, I like pickled herring.)

The Amsterdam metaphor is a throw away, a guilty Snickers bar shared with the Base. Mr. Brooks’ objective is to assure the Base that Americans remain “optimistic,” their dreams are effortlessly achievable, and they won’t have to change or sacrifice in order to achieve them. (Like waging war and cutting taxes: easy, non?) He doesn’t mean it. Rather, he means it only for those Americans who have no worries about their jobs, their homes, their health, and their children’s educations. The top one or two per cent.

Sadly, we all expect to win the lottery, so his message is manna from heaven to a wider audience: a Republican Base beset by electoral defeat, marginalization, regionalization, and the prospects of both economic depression and, in their opinion, “submission” to a lefty agenda driven by that uppity boy in the White House.

What are the five top cities Americans would most like to live in, you ask. According to the Pew study, they are holiday destinations, places with sunshine and scenery, new jobs and newer housing: Denver, San Diego, Seattle, Orlando and Tampa. Boats, booze and babes (or skiing…), in the old GM marketing phrase. There’s even a talking mouse.

Wanting to live there is like our Great Depression grandparents watching Fred dance with Ginger or wishing it was Myrna Loy drinking you under the table instead of stage hubby William Powell. That’s a comparison David Brooks doesn’t want you to think about.

earlofhuntingdon

earlofhuntingdon

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