Monday, September 26, 2016

Twentieth-Century Box

One of Hillary Clinton's old-fashioned, 20th-century celebrity endorsers, like Streisand and Cher. Photo by Ramona Rosales via Billboard.

Oops, I forgot all about David Brooks and his Friday column ("The Clinton Calendar")! And now there are fine posts out by Steve and Driftglass and Bethesda 1971. And here's Dr. Krugman, as usual not referring to Brooks by name but as "pundits":

Here’s what happens every election cycle: pundits demand that politicians offer the country new ideas. Then, if and when a candidate actually does propose innovative policies, the news media pays little attention, chasing scandals or, all too often, fake scandals instead. Remember the extensive coverage last month, when Hillary Clinton laid out an ambitious mental health agenda? Neither do I.
For that matter, even the demand for new ideas is highly questionable, since there are plenty of good old ideas that haven’t been put into effect. Most advanced countries implemented some form of guaranteed health coverage decades if not generations ago. Does this mean that we should dismiss Obamacare as no big deal, since it’s just implementing a tired old agenda? The 20 million Americans who gained health coverage would beg to differ.
That's a direct response to Brooks's complaint on Friday that Clinton had failed to join us here in the 21st century:
Obama and Sanders tapped into the energized populist base, but Clinton has Barbra Streisand, Cher and a cast of Wall Street plutocrats. Her campaign proposals sidestep the cutting issues that have driven Trump, Sanders, Brexit and the other key movements of modern politics. Her ideas for reducing poverty are fine, but they are circa Ed Muskie: more public works jobs, housing tax credits, more money for Head Start.
Pause to ask whether David Brooks has ever heard of Ali Spagnola, Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Demi Lovato, Ne-Yo, Usher, Pharell Williams, or Katie Perry (whose fans, I believe, are so 21st-century that they're too young to vote), just to name some of the very few younger performers whose names I myself recognize.

Question to Radio Yerevan: Are Trump, Sanders, and Brexit among the key movements of modern politics?

Answer: In principle, yes, but only time will tell. Clinton's housing proposals, on the other hand, are easily accessible online, and include not only tax credits but
$25 billion to support sustainable homeownership and for connecting housing to opportunity.... more tax credits in communities where demand for credits outpaces the supply [it may be a tired old agenda, but a lot of people seem to wish they could get it].... competitive grants and an “infrastructure bank” that would promote land use strategies that encourage the development of affordable rental housing near good jobs.... additional resources available for economic development, health care, and environmental improvements... increase[d] housing options for families who have received housing vouchers so that they can move to neighborhoods with more jobs and better schools [a problem David Brooks was worried that nobody was worrying about last May, three months after Clinton laid out her program]... matching up to $10,000 in savings for a down payment for those who earn less than the area median income.... reducing barriers to lending in underserved communities, supporting housing counseling efforts, and policing abuse and discrimination in the mortgage market.
Just sayin.

David Brooks obviously feels little need to find out what is contained in her campaign proposals. He'll just make up his own version. "More money for Head Start" as if it were just this one model of early childhood education (which conservatives believe, wrongly, doesn't work), as opposed to a comprehensive and diverse response to a desperate need for quality day care and pre-K that touches almost every parent. "Public works programs" sounds so 1990s Japan or 1930s US (roads to nowhere and monuments to nothing, if you're a conservative), as opposed to rebuilding America's wrecked infrastructure and moving the country into renewable energy, and the skills agenda
providing more robust, coherent, and accessible training programs and resources that are up to date for 21st-century technology and that lead to good jobs and lifelong skills and credentials.
See? It says "21st century" right there.

It's understandable that Brooks should not know what Clinton is campaigning on, because he's a busy man on tight deadlines, and he's not very comfortable reading all this crass and materialistic stuff when he could be feeding his spiritual needs with self-help books and uplifting Lincoln biographies (which is blindingly 21st-century).

There was some more I wanted to say on his new political theory:
In the 21st century, politics operates around a different axis. It’s not left/right, big government/small government. It’s openness and dynamism versus closedness and security. It’s between those who see opportunity and excitement in the emerging globalized, multiethnic meritocracy against those who see their lives and communities threatened by it.
Where he seems pissed off with Clinton for not adopting his program (presumably she would be on the meritocratic, threatening side) so he can criticize her for it. There's some humor potential there, I think. Maybe some other time.

But just screw him.

Apropos of nothing: Maureen Dowd is on Brian Lehrer's radio show right now, and a caller suggested that the Republicans had "lost their brown stuff", and she laughed pretty hard, in an unaffected way, as if there were some portion of her that is still a real person.

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