A very young-looking assistant editor at The Telegraph had lots of not-nice things to say about David Brooks today. In his globally syndicated column today--published stateside by The New York Times and in the U.K. by The Guardian--Brooks lauded the British political system and made some historical assumptions. In his rebuttal, Daniel Knowles lauded Brooks' ability to fail at understanding basic facts:
David Brooks, columnist, philosopher, writer of the Social Animal, salve to all our problems, has written a brief missive from London for the New York Times. It’s heartening stuff for us Brits. “As President Obama visits London”, he writes, “we will get a glimpse of the British political culture. We Americans have no right to feel smug or superior.” No doubt Mr Brook’s Westminster admirers will lap this up – is there anything we love more than being told how good we are by foreigners? But this column is laughably ignorant of British history and bizarrely naive about British political culture.
Knowles wasn't the only one with gripes about Brooks' take. One self-identified American commenter on Knowles's post said, "We Americans figured out, a long time ago, that he is a blathering idiot who has as much understanding of history and politics as a toothpick." A commenter on Brooks' original post at The Guardian asked, "Is this satire or something? To say that the British press has any integrity as a collective institution is simply factually inaccurate." Another said, "As an American (sort of; I live in Seattle), I'd like to apologize for this article. Sigh."
The British weren't the only ones naysaying Brooks' claims. Glenn Greenwald posted a well-sourced article on Salon this morning detailing how Brooks not only misrepresents the political system in the U.K. but also perpetuates troublesome trends in the American democracy:
It is true that public opinion very occasionally plays an important role in determining what happens in Washington (it sidetracked Bush's efforts to privatize Social Security, and is likely to prevent any serious dismantling of Medicare). But that's what Brooks and his like-minded establishment mavens are angriest about: that the ignorant, ignoble masses very periodically are able to prevent David Brooks' establishment political views from being implemented; that dreary problem would be solved by vesting all political power in "people who live in [Washington] and who have often known each other since prep school" -- and who think just like David Brooks.
Said one of Greenwald's commenters wryly, "This explains Krugman's exasperation."