What David Brooks said

I don’t often agree with Brooks, and he’s fundamentally an Obama opponent while I’m enthusiastically an Obama supporter. Brooks seems the same reality I do: a serious, pragmatic, tenacious center-left President trying to optimize over a difficult set of constraints.

In a sensible country, people would see Obama as a president trying to define a modern brand of moderate progressivism. In a sensible country, Obama would be able to clearly define this project without fear of offending the people he needs to get legislation passed. But we don’t live in that country. We live in a country in which many people live in information cocoons in which they only talk to members of their own party and read blogs of their own sect. They come away with perceptions fundamentally at odds with reality, fundamentally misunderstanding the man in the Oval Office.

Update Some actual data on the coccoon phenomenon, and its exaggeration in the Blogosphere, here.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

6 thoughts on “What David Brooks said”

  1. In the linked article. Brooks writes:

    Liberals are wrong to call him weak and indecisive. He’s just not always pursuing their aims.

    See, to some of us, either way that is a problem.

    More generally, articles like this – along with over-enthusiastic cheerleading – may have the effect of dissuading some supporters from "making" the President do what he purportedly wants to do, as FDR is said to have requested. In the case of this blog I'm sure it's unintentional, but have less confidence in Mr. Brook's sincerity of purpose.

  2. In a sensible country Obama would be seen for the go-along-to-get-along unpincipled bungler that he is. With his early declaration that he wants to 'look forward, not back' (at Bush Junta crimes and war crimes) he announced to the GOP that he has no real stomach for a fight no matter how balatant or grievous the offense, no matter how nauseating the agenda. All that could happen, all that will happen, after that, is that he will get punked over and over again until he finally slinks out of town on the wave of revulsion he deserves. The people who voted for him, however, deserve much better.

  3. Yeah, it was weird to have a Brooks column that seemed to have a modicum of sense to it. Doesn't make you him to think so.

  4. I'm not sure that "offending" is the right word here. Outside the rather large group of "conservative" dead-enders who are offended by the very idea that Obama is president, how many people are actually offended by his policies? Some on the left, but all I see in the right-wing elites is faux outrage, not real offense.

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