David Brooks (born August 11, 1961) is a Canadian-born American political and cultural commentator. Brooks served as an editorial writer and film reviewer for the Washington Times, a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal, a senior editor at The Weekly Standard from its inception, a contributing editor at Newsweek and The Atlantic Monthly, and a commentator on NPR. He is now a columnist for The New York Times and commentator on The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer.
- As good, naive Americans, we think that if only we can show the world the seriousness of the threat Saddam poses, then they will embrace our response. In our good, innocent way, we assume that in persuading our allies we are confronted with a problem of understanding.
But suppose we are confronted with a problem of courage? Perhaps the French and the Germans are simply not brave enough to confront Saddam. Or suppose we are confronted with a problem of character? Perhaps the French and the Germans understand the risk Saddam poses to the world order. Perhaps they know that they are in danger as much as anybody. They simply would rather see American men and women--rather than French and German men and women--dying to preserve their safety. Far better, from this cynical perspective, to signal that you will not take on the terrorists--so as to earn their good will amidst the uncertain times ahead.
- I do suspect that the decision to pursue this confrontational course emerges from Bush's own nature. He is a man of his word. He expects others to be that way too. It is indisputably true that Saddam has not disarmed. If people are going to vote against a resolution saying Saddam has not disarmed then they are liars. Bush wants them to do it in public, where history can easily judge them. Needless to say, neither the French nor the Russians nor the Chinese believe that honesty has anything to do with diplomacy. They see the process through an entirely different lens.
- Almost nobody in the peace camp will stand up and say that Saddam Hussein is not a fundamental problem for the world. Almost nobody in that camp is willing even to describe what the world will look like if the peace camp's advice is taken and Saddam is permitted to remain in power in Baghdad, working away on his biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons programs... They are playing culture war, and they are disguising their eruptions as position-taking on Iraq, a country about which they haven't even taken the trouble to inform themselves. … For most in the peace camp, there is only the fog. The debate is dominated by people who don't seem to know about Iraq and don't care. Their positions are not influenced by the facts of world affairs.
- So now we stand at an epochal moment. The debate is over. The case has gone to the jury, and the jury is history. Events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or Chirac.
The Social Animal
- ...list of different spheres of her life: reflection, creativity, community, intimacy, and service.
- Britain is blessed with a functioning political culture. It is dominated by people who live in London and who have often known each other since prep school. This makes it gossipy and often incestuous.
- The political history of the 20th century is the history of social-engineering projects executed by well-intentioned people that began well and ended badly. There were big errors like communism, but also lesser ones, like a Vietnam War designed by the best and the brightest, urban renewal efforts that decimated neighborhoods, welfare policies that had the unintended effect of weakening families and development programs that left a string of white elephant projects across the world.
These experiences drove me toward the crooked timber school of public philosophy: Michael Oakeshott, Isaiah Berlin, Edward Banfield, Reinhold Niebuhr, Friedrich Hayek, Clinton Rossiter and George Orwell. These writers — some left, some right — had a sense of epistemological modesty. They knew how little we can know. They understood that we are strangers to ourselves and society is an immeasurably complex organism. They tended to be skeptical of technocratic, rationalist planning and suspicious of schemes to reorganize society from the top down.
- Our moral and economic system is based on individual responsibility. It’s based on the idea that people have to live with the consequences of their decisions. This makes them more careful deciders. This means that society tends toward justice — people get what they deserve as much as possible.
- The nation’s economy is not just the sum of its individuals. It is an interwoven context that we all share. To stabilize that communal landscape, sometimes you have to shower money upon those who have been foolish or self-indulgent. The greedy idiots may be greedy idiots, but they are our countrymen. And at some level, we’re all in this together. If their lives don’t stabilize, then our lives don’t stabilize.
- The message of the summoned life is that you don’t need to panic if you don’t yet know what you want to do with your life. But you probably want to throw yourselves into circumstances where the summons will come.
- About once a month I run across a person who radiates an inner light. These people can be in any walk of life. They seem deeply good. They listen well. They make you feel funny and valued. You often catch them looking after other people and as they do so their laugh is musical and their manner is infused with gratitude. They are not thinking about what wonderful work they are doing. They are not thinking about themselves at all.
- Brooks, David (April 11, 2015). "The Moral Bucket List". New York Times.
Quotes about Brooks
- On the eve of the war he cheered on, as he celebrated the fact that "the debate is over" and war was imminent and inevitable, he identically vowed: "Events will show who was right, George W. Bush or Jacques Chirac." Soon we would know. Did Brooks ever tell his readers what we found out about that? Did he ever acknowledge that the French -- whose opposition to attacking Iraq and skpeticism about WMD claims he attributed to cowardice, anti-Semitism, paranoia over American deceit, anti-American hatred, bad character, and lack of reason -- turned out to be right and Brooks and friends were miserably wrong? Did he ever retract his smears that the American "peace camp" was driven by hatred, anti-Semitism, and ignorance about Iraq, or acknowledge that his claims about Saddam -- that his ideology "calls for warfare, bloodshed, revolution, and conflict, on and on, against one and all, until the end of time" -- were at least just as applicable to Brooks himself and his own neoconservative movement?
- He never cites any of his own views at the time, obviously hoping that readers will place him among those pundits that "got things right." And also: please forget that he was a strong supporter of the invasion to start with.
In fact, he bears special blame -- shame -- not only for his writing, but for serving as senior editor of the most influential pro-war publication, The Weekly Standard.