Tuesday, January 12, 2016

David Brooks goes takfiri

Q: Why is Ted Cruz like the Paul Reilly design for the Church of St. Frances de Chantal in the Bronx (1971)?
A: Because he says he's Christian, but David Brooks says he's Brutalist. (Uncredited photo via American Guild of Organists, New York City chapter.)
Shorter David Brooks, "The Brutalism of Ted Cruz", January 12 2016:
I'm shocked, shocked to discover that one of the Republican candidates for the presidency is offering a hard, combative and gladiatorial approach, sowing bitterness, influencing his followers to lose all sense of proportion and teaching them to answer hate with hate, and seems to be a stranger to most of what would generally be considered the Christian virtues of humility, mercy, compassion and grace. Though I agree with some of his positions.
Pause to note that grace would not generally be considered a Christian virtue in that it isn't a property of people at all but of God. Or by extension sovereigns ("God save our gracious Queen") and dukes and duchesses ("your grace"). So I have to say Brooksy's still not quite ready for his theology orals.

Technical issues aside, far be it from me to dispute these takfir accusations; I don't think Cruz represents the Christian virtues or the liberal, forgiving spirit of the New Testament very well either. I do think it's kind of funny how Brooks seems to be putting himself in the position of warning the conservative evangelical community that their preferred candidate isn't very humble or merciful: does he think they're not listening to what Cruz says?
Traditionally, candidates who have attracted strong evangelical support have in part emphasized the need to lend a helping hand to the economically stressed and the least fortunate among us. Such candidates include George W. Bush, Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum.
Have you listened to Huckabee or Santorum lately? And where's their compassion, such as it is, getting them? It's months since anybody imagined they had a chance in the race.
When he is speaking in a church the contrast between the setting and the emotional tone he sets is jarring.
It's not jarring to the congregations in those conservative evangelical churches. They're not looking for humble and merciful. Cruz isn't doing this because he's an especially nasty person, though he certainly is that. He can do compassionate conservative perfectly well when he wants, as he did in 2004:
"Demographic changes and the rising tide of immigration necessitate Republicans learning how to articulate the message of opportunity," Cruz wrote. "Republicans must learn to better communicate to racial minorities, to express with sincerity and conviction the compassion and promise that their policies embody. That message, delivered from the heart, will in time reach those voters and will resonate with the many ’swing’ voters in the middle.... 
"[S]ome fiscal conservatives have criticized President Bush’s because government spending has continued to grow over the past four years," he wrote. "But those concerns are often overstated."
The reason he's as nasty as he is now is that it works.

Last August, when it was Trump who seemed to have all the conservative Evangelical vote, Steve M wrote,
in a way, Trump is embodying religion as they understand it when he threatens to round up and wall out immigrants, or bomb Muslims and seize Middle Eastern oil. He's taking things from the undeserving and giving them to the deserving. Isn't that what Christian conservatives think Jesus wants?
Now Trump seems to have lost ground to Cruz, among those specific voters (in Iowa as opposed to New Hampshire where Republicans are still about nothing but taxes). It seems plausible that Trump isn't nasty enough. Brooks's theological views are completely irrelevant.

You'd think it wouldn't be necessary to lie about Cruz in order to to demonstrate that he's a horrible candidate, but Paul Campos at LGM takes charge of showing that Brooks is doing that too in today's column, or (more likely) reporting somebody else's lies on the instructions of his hidden masters. (The bad person in the legal anecdote about what a bad person Cruz is wasn't actually Cruz, but his boss, Texas AG Greg Abbott, now the nasty-as-Cruz governor of that unhappy state.) Steve M has another version of the same story drawn from the journalistic sources. Driftglass has thoughts close to those offered here.

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