Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The talented Mr.—I beg your pardon?

Sorry, I lost the source for this. Quotation here.
Shorter David Brooks, "The Talented Mr. Rubio", New York Times, April 21 2015:
Senator Marco Rubio is a handsome and charismatic young sociopath who would murder friends and lovers and anybody else who stands in his way to attain the easy, elegant, charmed life to which he aspires, and almost certainly get away with it. He clearly has all the qualities to be the Republicans' best choice for the 2016 presidential nomination.
I was pretty startled to see Brooks claiming, in the introduction to his new book, that the "shallow, narcissistic blowhard" we see in the pages of the Times is just a role he plays, something he's paid for, while the real Brooksy is "working to avoid a life of smug superficiality". Really, like he's sort of the New York Times's Stephen Colbert?

But today's piece makes me wonder. Ostensibly, it's a lavish tongue-anointment for Senator Rubio, emerging as the favored candidate of the Reformiconographers, which never breaks character throughout:
doesn’t just speak in the ardent patriotic tones common to the children of immigrants like himself. His very life is the embodiment of the American dream.... He is what many Republicans want their country to be.... the second most likely nominee.... the most talented politician in the race.... Rubio gives a very good speech. He has an upbeat and pleasant demeanor. He has a great personal story. His policy agenda is more detailed and creative than any of his rivals. He has an overarching argument.... Rubio could win Florida and loom as a giant. His weaknesses are not killers.... he was speaker of the Florida House. As Jim Geraghty of National Review has detailed, his record running that body was pretty good. He was a tough but reasonably successful negotiator. On his first day in office, he handed each legislator a book with the cover “100 Innovative Ideas for Florida’s Future.” The pages were blank. He was inviting his members to fill them in — a nice collaborative touch.
Well, maybe that last bit was pretty funny, with its picture of Rubio as a CEO-type leader acknowledging that he had no innovative ideas at all, and his plan was hardly collaborative, since he kept himself above the process; he wasn't asking the members to work with him and each other but to compete for his attention—imagine Michael passing those books out at Dunder Mifflin as the meeting shrinks into an appalled silence.

And then there's this:
In his past races, he’s done better than generic Republican candidates because of his success with Hispanics. 
In Florida, where the vast majority of Latinos are white Cubans like himself or Puerto Ricans who have no personal immigration issues, except for the many with family connections to Dominicans (nobody knows how Florida's Puerto Ricans actually vote)—this is not going to work in any other state except maybe New Jersey, where all his potential voters are, at the moment, Menendez Democrats, and I don't expect he should be taking them for granted either. Something very Colbertian in that winsome Republican hope that all Hispanics will be fundamentally the same person, interchangeable, and voting by surname rather than policy.

But the main joke is that headline (yes, Times columnists write their own) staring down at the paragraphs the way the titles to Stephen's right used to glare, witheringly, at his fatuous monologue. Dry? Yes, but very witty.

Steve M (H/t for the Office gag!) offers a more meaningful analysis. Not that I'm ashamed or anything. I'll be your narcissistic blowhard for free. Driftglass's effort when Brooks wrote the same column about John Thune in 2009 was so great that he's offering it up again, so go read it.

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