Although we often do it as though it were easy, people are generally more complex than we credit. So I found it to be with David Brooks. I was not quite certain how I should pigeonhole him.

Why did I try? In a previous post, a commenter left a link to one of Brooks columns. So I decided to look at some of Brooks earlier columns. As a result, I discovered this gem.

A New Social Agenda

I’m to Rick Santorum’s left on most social issues, like same-sex marriage and abortion. I’m also put off by his Manichaean political rhetoric. He seems to imagine America’s problems can best be described as the result of a culture war between the God-fearing conservatives and the narcissistic liberals.

Like most Americans, including most evangelicals under 40, I find this culture war language absurd. If conservative ideas were that much more virtuous than liberal ideas, then the conservative parts of the country would have fewer social pathologies than the liberal parts of the country. They don’t.

But having said all that, I’m delighted that Santorum is making a splash in this presidential campaign. He is far closer to developing a new 21st-century philosophy of government than most leaders out there. (continued here)

While I don’t necessarily agree with Brooks, the analysis is interesting. When we consider things from another point-of-view, we see things we might not otherwise notice. In this case, we notice what Santorum doesn’t yet see.

Santorum doesn’t yet see that once you start thinking about how to foster an economic system that would nurture our virtues, you wind up with an agenda far more drastic and transformational.

If you believe in the dignity of labor, it makes sense to support an infrastructure program that allows more people to practice the habits of industry. If you believe in personal responsibility, you have to force Americans to receive only as much government as they are willing to pay for. If you believe in the centrality of family, you have to have a government that both encourages marriage and also supplies wage subsidies to men to make them marriageable. (from here)

Wage subsidies to make men marriageable? In order to reduce to the size of government? I sure am glad Santorum does not see that.

Hopefully, after all the trouble we have had with the current Utopian dreamer in the White House, most people realize we don’t need another. Didn’t God give each of us the right to pursue our own happiness? Then why do we need a president who insists upon telling us how to run our lives?


  1. This use of the Bible to justify every little thing that you want to believe to begin with reminds me of the old story of the young boy who shoots his gun at a wall, and then he proceeds to draw concentric circles around each of the scattered bullet holes. The boy wants everyone to believe that he is winning this strange game that he is playing with himself because the boy appears to have nailed a perfect bullseye with every single shot.

    Far be it from me to preach, but it seems to this sinner’s recollection that Jesus wanted us to find the Kingdom of God within ourselves. Scripture therefore makes for an ironic weapon to coerce some sort of sanctified Christoutopian dream for American politics and public policy. Sacred writings would seem to be better aimed at our own hearts. It’s hard to miss, you know that you have hit your target when love and compassion bleed out so there is little need to draw rings around it just to show how holely you are.

    Because of this corrosive misuse of the sacred here to, not just sacrilize one side of what should be just civil differences of opinion, but to also demonize the other side, I had decided not to be a party to this indecent dance anymore. However, I have kept tabs on your website brother, if for no other reason than to get a good feel for how far the extreme right flank of the Republican Party would stray afield before your center completely collapses. To my continuing amusement, a visit here never disappoints (although I must admit that the near tin foil hat level of crankiness often exhibited here makes me worry about you brother – all joking aside, you know that I do care about you Tom).

    However, I found myself intrigued by the recent civil, articulate and patient (even sensitive) exchange between Tom and Heather, at least until the positions hardened at the end. i have come to the conclusion that discourse rarely resolves disputes if the parties are uncompromising, but I was so impressed by the level of civility that I broke my silence here to add links to a couple of articles that I thought might provide some prospective on why these problems seem so entrenched.

    I was sort of amazed at the knee jerk reaction to the David Brooks piece. Brooks was not questioning Lin’s religious conviction, just thoughtfully pointing out an age old dilemma that all people of faith have shared since St Augustus, and that Lin admits to struggling with. However, the default reaction here was not just a theological disagreement between reasonable people, but to personally attack and vilafy Brooks and without even realizing that you were committing a form of fratricide. Brooks is a CONSERVATIVE REPUBLICAN commentator who is considered pretty mainstream (a dirty word for you extremist folks these days I suppose). I don’t agree with Brooks a lot of the time, but I do find him to be highly intelligent and reasonable – I read his last book and it is extremely good. He doesn’t brandish his religious beliefs as a battering ram for his politics, but my impression is that he is very concerned about religion and morality, that he is even kind of spiritual.

    We are all good and decent people here even though we disagree. We are all better than this. Even though the purpose of these sorts of sites is as a continuing reaffirmation of our beliefs rather that to challenge anything, when we catch ourselves blatantly mischaracterizing, and even demonizing those even on our own side who do not meet some moving target of ideological purity that is rapidly shifting to the extreme, then maybe it’s time to take a breath before screaming the next slander,

    Anyway, life is too short and beautifull for the quixotic task of defending against your litany of conspiracies Tom. Obama is not Stalin, he is not Lenin, and he is not Trotsky either. The biggest issues facing our democracy today are levels of wealth disparity and unequal opportunity that we have not seen in this country since the Gilded Age that lead into the Great Depression. Get out of the echo chamber and read some authoritative books by thoughtful intellectuals on both sides of the debate (you know those dreaded “elites” that actually know what they are talking about) cause this demonizing stuff is just a smoke screen for the real problems.


  2. marriagecoach1 – You know better than to call people names. You know this passage well, don’t you?

    Romans 12:17-21 King James Version (KJV)

    17Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

    18If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

    19Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.

    20Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

    21Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

    For those who are not familiar with, these verses, here are a couple of places when the meaning is explained.

    Tony – What marriagecoach1 would be quite justified in doing is calling for repentance. We all have much to repent for, but that is particularly true with respect to the operation of our government.
    Here are some examples of the lies.
    1. Baseline budgeting. With this little ruse, “budget cutters” can call budget increases “cuts”. Meanwhile, we run huge deficits, the like of which this nation has not seen since WW II.
    2. The decreased unemployment rate. Even though the total number of people employed in this nation has gone down, the unemployment rate is improving. Odd, don’t you think?
    3. The pretense of fighting illegal immigration. What is reducing the number illegal immigrants entering our nation is the economic shambles that our economy has and still is becoming. Meanwhile, the Obama administration is fighting for an amnesty by fiat. Just don’t deport and hope they vote. What Democrat needs a voter ID?
    4. Violating one’s oath of office. Anyone who still thinks Obama respects the Constitution long ago ceased to care about the Truth. Obamacare reeks as unconstitutional. If Obama does not like a law, he does not bother to enforce it. If the law does not say what Obama wants, he just issues an executive order. And regardless of what he may have said he would do, Obama will do whatever he thinks he can get away with.
    5. Much of the news media ignored Obama’s background. Most who voted for the Democrats in 2008 voted strictly out of personal self-interest, ignoring the risk to our nation. Hence we live in an era where the immediate future that faces our children is a soft tyranny. What lies beyond only God knows.
    6. And have you counted how many gloriously expensive vacations the first family has taken at public expense?


  3. “Indeed because Obutthole wants the government to be your daddy”
    John Wilder

    “Tony use to be a regular commenter, but he found what I write here too offensive.”

    Not aways you brother, but also sometimes the caustic echoes of you. Regardless, I do appreciate the christian civility of your post above and your effort to at least consider another point of view without demonizing the person giving it.

    We sometimes forget that we are all Americans here, who, although we may strongly disagree, share more in common than not.


  4. I think David Brooks is at the least, a little off in his analysis but it was very interesting in a couple ways. The fact that he had something good to say about Santorum surprised me.


    1. Creased pant leg? Well, they are some who get tingles up their legs….. 😆

      Maybe its too much cynicism on my part, but I know I find it easier to speak kindly of an enemy I do not believe can hurt me. Thus, I suspect Brooks’ belief that Santorum will never be president makes it easier hiim to find something good to say about him.

      Anyway, it is worth noting how Brooks starts his column. He plainly states what he finds repugnant about Santorum. Since Brooks could say the same about me……


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