Wednesday, December 18, 2013

David Brooks vomits up "Thought Leader" nonsense, gets ripped by Charles Pierce

By Michael J.W. Stickings

David Brooks's utterly ridiculous New York Times column from yesterday, "The Thought Leader," has justifiably been ridiculed by commentators far and wide. Consider just the opening paragraph, which sets the table for the sheer nonsense to come:

Little boys and girls in ancient Athens grew up wanting to be philosophers. In Renaissance Florence they dreamed of becoming Humanists. But now a new phrase and a new intellectual paragon has emerged to command our admiration: The Thought Leader. 

The first two sentences contain nothing in the way of truth, while the third is the sort of manufactured "straw man" sociology we've come to expect from Brooks. Like Patio Man before him, "The Thought Leader" is entirely a creation of Brooks's deformed imagination, and in fleshing out this non-existent creature who serves only as a punching bag for Brooks's supposedly brilliant observations, as he does with the rest of the column, all Brooks exposes is his ignorance and lack of self-awareness. Because, really, do American boys and girls really dream of becoming "thought leaders"? And what the fuck is a thought leader anyway? Certainly not the caricature on the receiving end of Brooks's criticism.

(By the way, the whole Patio Man thing at least was funny. There's nothing funny here. Nothing.)

Brooks fashions himself a perceptive observer of the American socio-economic landscape, which is also nonsense, and for the ultimate takedown of this atrocious piece, a work of sheer brilliance, you should turn to Charlie Pierce, who, as they say, nailed it.

Make sure to read the whole thing, but this is my favorite passage, responding to Brooks's unsubstantiated assertion that "Many people wonder how they too can become Thought Leaders and what the life cycle of one looks like":

Well, you start out being a coddled little genius nurtured by the think tanks and vanity publications and fanzines of the American right. Then you make a career out of whatever pop sociology text you read 10 minutes ago. Then you write a couple of books about how the American genius for mindless consumerism is the future of the country. Then you get a column in the New York Times. Unfortunately, there comes a conservative president who fks up everything from hell to breakfast, and all of the intellectual arboretums in which you were raised fall into disrepute. Dutch Elm disease of the mind become epidemic. So you backpedal as fast as you can, running over several of your previous selves in the process until you finally end up one day writing a column in which you pretend that you haven't spent your adult life pumping your speaking fees and grazing the buffet tables at various brainiac circle jerks.

I'm sorry. Were we talking about someone else?

Nope. Intentionally or not, Brooks's column might as well be a mirror he's holding up to his own corrupted soul. He's either basking in some pretty profound ignorance or wallowing in some pretty serious self-loathing. Or both. Whatever the case, his capacity to embarrass himself, and the Very Serious Newspaper that shamelessly provides him his major platform, is as strong as ever.

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