Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Brooks made a funny

...and a pretty good one, too, in some respects. It's a parody campaign biography of Willard Mitt Romney that takes everything we know about him and turns it into classic American silliness:
Mitt Romney was born on March 12, 1947, in Ohio, Florida, Michigan, Virginia and several other swing states. He emerged, hair first, believing in America, and especially its national parks. He was given the name Mitt, after the Roman god of mutual funds, and launched into the world with the lofty expectation that he would someday become the Arrow shirt man.
The tone of the thing is meant to be affectionate fun-poking, I think--
Always respectful, Mitt and Ann decided to elope with their parents. They went on a trip to Israel, where they tried and failed to introduce the concept of reticence. 
 But it keeps sliding into a certain asperity:
Romney was a precocious and gifted child. He uttered his first words (“I like to fire people”) at age 14 months, made his first gaffe at 15 months and purchased his first nursery school at 24 months. The school, highly leveraged, went under, but Romney made 24 million Jujubes on the deal.
Thalia, Muse of Comedy and Idyllic Poetry, by Jean-Marc Nattier. From Wikipedia.
Brooks really has some comic talent, as you'll remember, maybe, from Bobos in Paradise. The famous 2001 Atlantic article, "One Country, Slightly Divisible",  in which he tried to illustrate our culture war by contrasting the lifestyles of blue Montgomery County, Maryland, and red Franklin County, Pennsylvania, where it turned out that he had made up all the examples of Franklin County lifestyle, was terrible journalism, but terrific shtik.

Indeed, it was famously through his humor that he got his first horse on the wingnut welfare carousel--a college parody of William F. Buckley, Jr., delighted the old man and earned Brooks an internship at the National Review.

So it's odd to see him here misjudging his tone, if I understand it correctly, seesawing between the tease and the out-and-out insult and back:
Some people say he retreated into himself during these years. He had a pet rock, which ran away from home because it was starved of affection. He bought a mood ring, but it remained permanently transparent.
Is it just the long disuse of those comedy muscles, since he became everybody's expert on political philosophy, that makes them hard for him to control? Or is it maybe that he's coming to realize that Edmund Burke would have voted for Obama (and not as the lesser of two evils, but enthusiastically)?

Burke really would, you know. Which doesn't mean I won't. Here's a little reading before the next class.
Edmund Burke. From Wikipedia.

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