Friday, August 19, 2016

Never mind

Separated at baking? Trumpkin pie, via Pinterest.

Seems like just days ago old David Brooks was fearful and gloomy about the direction our country was taking, our inveterate materialism and selfishness and focus on the achievement of affluence, our drive to occupy increasingly vast spaces, our inability to submerge our individuality in the plasma of community,

the possibility that our culture is built on some fundamental error about what makes people happy and fulfilled.... According to the World Health Organization, people in wealthy countries suffer depression by as much as eight times the rate as people in poor countries.
In fact it was just days ago, ten days to be exact, but now he's as peppy as Tom Friedman:

Is Our Country as Good as Our Athletes Are?
Spoiler: You bet!

The athletes are great on a Trumpian scale, with a Trumpian exclamation point:

If anything, the coverage gets a little boring because we’re always winning!
Calling forth, as you won't be surprised to hear, Brooks's 147th and 148th career uses of "amazing/amazingly", with a bonus "astoundingly":

And the winners have such amazingly American stories and personality types (Biles, Ledecky, and, yes, Lochte). American Olympic performance has been astoundingly consistent over the recent decades.... The U.S. has amazing institutions to prepare jumpers, swimmers, basketball players, gymnasts, runners and decathletes.
And our economy gets as many gold medals as our Olympians do:

The American patent system is the most important in the world.
Nine of Forbes’s 10 most valuable brands are American (Apple, Google, IBM and so on). The U.S. is the leading energy producer. We have 15 (at least!) of the world’s top 20 universities, while Hollywood is as dominant as ever.
America is also quite good at change. The median age in the U.S. is 37.8, compared with 46.5 for both Germany and Japan.
And the median age in Saudi Arabia is 25.3, so those guys must be as volatile as methanol.

Maybe he just needed that vacation, but it strikes me that there's something more a little calculated in these mood swings, keyed to the mood of his opponent in a given column; a sorrowful Burkean pessimist when he's contemplating the uplift and hopefulness and physicality of Democrats, and a sunny Reagan optimist when he's looking scornfully at the Trumpian doomscape, as today.

I haven't got any idea what his purpose is. He seems to be trying to sell the Trans-Pacific Partnership, on the grounds that trade agreements are always good for everybody except the people there bad for, which is a point I guess we can all agree on.

On the campaign circuit, global trade is portrayed as this great national disaster. We’re being destroyed by foreigners! The Trans-Pacific Partnership was the central dominating boogeyman at the Democratic National Convention, especially among people who have no clue what’s in it.
And the "central dominating boogeyman" of Philadelphia was the Donald, who has the virtue of actually being a large and frightening-looking humanoid that one can easily imagine hiding in one's closet or under one's bed.

Another thing we can all agree on is that Brooks has no clue what's in the TPP, since he doesn't mention anything but the free trade aspects, and that's what virtually everybody who has done some reading on the subject, proponents and opponents alike, regards as the least important part. It's about workers' rights, environmental protection, and the legal framework for managing international disputes (and the question of whether these parts were dictated to the 12 sovereign states by corporations that had no vote in the negotiations, which I persist in thinking they weren't); and the "free trade" part isn't even free trade but carefully managed reductions in protection. I may think Bernie Sanders is totally wrong about the agreement, but I gladly acknowledge that he knows much more than David Brooks about its content.

I'll certainly get back to the TPP before November, even if I still haven't made up my mind entirely, but I'm not doing it on the basis of a Brooks column, in any case. This silly thing isn't worth the time I've already given it.

No comments:

Post a Comment