David Brooks is exactly right today about Joe

his Joeness

In today’s column, David Brooks gets Joe Biden exactly right.

The headline is “Your Average American Joe.

The subhed is, “Biden is not an individualist.”

Absolutely. And amen to that.

An excerpt from the end:

… The character issue will play out in all sorts of subterranean and powerful ways this election. We have lost our love for ourselves as a people, a faith in our basic goodness, and this loss of faith has been a shock. A lot of voters want to raise their children in an atmosphere marked by decency and compassion, not narcissistic savagery. Values are central to this race.

Here is what is subtly different about Biden. He’s not an individualist. He is a member. He belongs to his family; his hometown, Scranton; his Democratic Party; his Senate; his nation, and is inexplicable without those roots. He used the word “we” 16 times in his short video announcing his candidacy.

Some candidates will run promising transformational change. Biden offers a restoration of the values that bind us as a collective.

Yes! I could have done without the word “collective;” as it brings to mind the AOCs and Bernies of the world, and that’s definitely not who Joe is. I’d have gone with “a community,” or “a people.”

But otherwise, very nicely done.

We communitarian types may not have a party, but we have a candidate…

18 thoughts on “David Brooks is exactly right today about Joe

  1. Barry

    “A lot of voters want to raise their children In an atmosphere where everyone around the family has the same political beliefs and everyone else has an insuffient level of integrity. “


    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      No, I don’t think he meant anything of the kind.

      Although what you say is of course supported by a lot of research.

      And of course, that’s one of the things seriously wrong with this country today. Rather than celebrating the fact that we don’t all have to think alike, and appreciating that we have a system for letting different views be heard, too many people today just don’t want to hear it.

      And unfortunately, I think we’re all kind of susceptible to that. I’ve certainly detected it in myself. I used to really enjoy a good argument from someone who disagrees with me. I still do, in fact (a good argument). But I’ve gotten to where I just can’t bear to listen to, say, Republican members of Congress defending the madness of Trumpism. It’s just too crazy. It’s like listening to something from the Bizarro World, or some kind of malevolent satire. They’ll say things that sound like headlines from the Onion, but they MEAN it…

      Of course, I’ve always been impatient with stupidity. There are great arguments that can be made from the left, right and middle. But when it’s just stupid, it makes me feel bad about the human race…

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        An example of appreciating good arguments… y’all know I’m a big single-payer guy. But when I read a piece like George Will’s very ably arguing about how we’re spending ourselves into a hole, I really dig it — and in this case, I Tweeted it out.

        One of the devices that pulled me in and made it work is that he started out DEFENDING Bernie Sanders. Not that I like Sanders or anything, it’s just you’ve got to keep reading when Will is defending Bernie.

        Basically, he was saying no one in Washington should dare criticize Bernie for the spending he wants do to. After all, he honestly calls himself a socialist. And Republicans especially have no room to talk, since they have abandoned all fiscal discipline…

      2. Brad Warthen Post author

        Speaking of Will… y’all might be interested in his latest column, which is about Biden.

        He has a lot of electoral math of the kind a lot of y’all enjoy more than I do (I’m not a “Moneyball” guy, although I enjoyed the movie). It suggests, of course, why Dems would be wise to got with Joe if they want to beat Trump. He also has some good lines, such as “Biden’s campaign slogan should be: ‘How about a president who doesn’t make the current one look less loony than he is?'”

        The very best bit, though, is at the end:

        Biden, whose smile is Jack Nicholson’s without the naughtiness, is not angry. His sporadic attempts at seeming so are transparently, and engagingly, synthetic. Neither, however, are most Americans angry. Rather, they are embarrassed and exhausted. Biden has a talent for embarrassing himself, but not the nation, and he probably might seem to weary voters to be something devoutly desired: restful.

        Absolutely. Yet another good argument.

        1. Barry

          With Will, you know he disagrees with Bernie, but you also know he has a lot of respect for him.

          When I see Trumpsters now, I don’t sense they have respect for people that don’t see it their way. (I’m referring to Trumpster politicians) . They present themselves as “real Americans.” Other people, including those that have fought in combat, aren’t quite the same level of “real American” if they don’t agree.

          That is why you never see Sen. Tammy Baldwin on Fox News.

      3. Barry

        I know he didn’t mean that. But as you said, research now does show it.

        BTW- I donated $20 to Biden yesterday around lunch. Last night I got another email asking for $1 more. They wanted to hit a big fundraising goal in 24 hours and have a lot of individual donors. I donated another $2 last night about 10pm.

        Today I read they exceeded 6 mil. Just think where they would have been with out my $22.

  2. bud

    Biden’s first day as a candidate was pretty rocky. His appearance on the View was dismal. He continues to get hammered by his creepiness toward woman and his disastrous treatment of Anita Hill. Then there is the claim of politicizing the Charlottesville incident. I’m not sure any of these charges is fair but then again I never saw any merit in all the various attacks on Hillary Clinton. But I did watch the View segment in it’s entirety and frankly Joe was underwhelming. So far all anyone seems to offer by way of endorsement is that Biden will return us to the 60s. Maybe to a bunch of old white guys that characterization has some nostalgic charm to it. But this old white guy sees the 60s not as a bellwether but rather a tumultuous period in our history that is best left un-relived. Time to move forward. The AOCs of the world are the future. And I for one am very grateful for that.

    1. Harry Harris

      The AOC’s are a product of our times, not a locked-in future. If we continue to consider celebrity without merit to be worthwhile, they could be our short-term future. I hope not. I have a lot of appreciation for AOC’s questioning and challenging nature – and considerable experience doing the same during my lifetime. What I dislike is her lack of skill at questioning without shrillness and especially her tendency to throw bombs without the expertise to aim or land them accurately. She has an excellent chance of being a one-termer, losing in the primary unless she takes the time to learn both her job and some sound policy.

  3. Doug Ross

    An opposing view from hard core, under 50 Democrat progressive writer Drew Magary:

    That’s the territory Biden will be staking claim to. He’ll put on his best Diamond Joe outfit and talk about knocking some sense into Donald Trump, but his record as a legislator shows that he has consistently failed to beat back the conservative ethos that spawned Trump. In fact, Biden has warmly embraced this ethos in the past, even though it has proven to be a sickening con job that cushy powerbrokers have fashioned, successfully, into the viable political movement that currently has us all captive to rotten, corrupt GOP leadership. He’s a schmoozer. He’s a clumsy national candidate who has repeatedly failed to win a Democratic presidential nom outright because he terminally overestimates his own charm and because, more importantly, he’s a D.C. lifer who’s more interested in preserving illusory rules of engagement in politics than he is solving real problems on the ground.

  4. bud

    What I dislike is her lack of skill at questioning without shrillness …

    Shrillness? That was a charge leveled against Hillary Clinton and other women. Would anyone ever accuse a man of being “Shrill”? I would suggest one person’s ‘shrill’ is another’s ‘assertive’. As for her lack of expertise, if you’ve been paying attention AOC has grown in her job. Remember she’s only 29. I’ve watched some of her questioning in committee hearings and I see neither “shrillness” nor lack of expertise. She easily wins re-election. The Democrats desperately need fresh, bold ideas and charismatic people to deliver those ideas. The Republicans have Jim Jordan and Mark Meadows. If you want to talk about shrill let’s start with these guys. AOC and Katie Porter among others are the perfect foil for these guys.

    1. Doug Ross

      You saw how AOC tweeted about an “old white man” who questioned her actiiviam. She thought he was a Republican. Turns out he was the Democrat in charge of the House budget committee. She deleted the tweet to save herself from even more embarrassment. She’s truly a joke.. Paline-esque in her style over substance. Knee jerk reactions usually come from jerks.


      1. bud

        Not a big deal. She got the last laugh when she called the Republican’s bluff when they ‘invited’ her to visit a coal mine. She accepted, then they immediately walked the invitation back. Now THAT was embarrassing. AOC is exuberant, perhaps a bit overly so as this extremely minor incident shows, but embarrassing does not describe her but rather her opponents. AOC is exerting a great deal of influence for such a young person and people on the right are running scared. The Green New Deal is a great roadmap for the future of our country and I applaud the effort. Her energy and enthusiasm is contagious. She’s no dummy and has effectively obliterated the ridiculous attacks from her many jealous critics. She’s going to be around a while and grow and thrive in her job. Sure there will be missteps along the way. All great people fail and some point. Her detractors will continue their nonsense. And they will continue to look small and irrelevant.

        1. Doug Ross

          Ok, let’s come back in two years and see what she accomplishes. Or if she is even reelected. Her dumb statements on Amazon did not go over well with her constituents.

          I’m sure if a young Republican has made the same dumb mistake on Twitter, you would have just said it was nothing. You’ll refer one day getting on her bandwagon. She is destined to flame out.

    2. Harry Harris

      Add a few years to your experience and you’ll find the term “shrill” used to describe Eugene McCarthy, and several other male politicians of note – for their tone, not their gender. Hillary was hardly shrill; she was notably understated until she got before a partisan audience behind closed doors and didn’t seem to realize that stuff gets out.
      I’m pleased with the growth that AOC seems to be showing. I think she will develop more skill at both handling attacks (there are many) and stating her positions. Again, I’ll state that she will be vulnerable UNLESS she does the hard work of beefing up while behind the scenes.

  5. Harry Harris

    The tone of both Biden and Cory Booker is what keeps those two at the top of my list. I hope Booker can advance long enough to outline the headlines and become known to more of the Democratic constituency and those persuadable independents. I’m put off by the name-calling and the acrimony that the Republicans and right-wing seem to bait most Democrats into. Trump steroidizes it and uses it well. It’s his game. Sanders, Biden, and Booker won’t play. Biden knows how to demonize (I say highlight) Trump’s effect on the country without making it a personal attack.

    1. bud

      Even Biden got caught up a bit in a silly war of words about age and vigor. No “small hands” moment but still it’s hard not to take the bait on occasion.


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