On March 30, Charlie Rose interviewed David Brooks. These are my thoughts on it.
| Commentary: Charlie Rose/David Brooks Interview
I was intrigued by the challenge offered by GabriellaR45 to listen and comment on the May 30th interview of David Brooks. Honestly, I had vaguely heard of him through PBS but I really had no idea who he was or what he believed in other than a one line summary: â€śDavid Brooks is an American conservative political and cultural commentator who writes for The New York Times.â€ť My own politics have always been liberal leaning (not far enough left to fall into the Bern pit ) . What had impressed her about this particular man and what he had to say?
As I listened to the interview, I found him to be articulate, genuine, and thoughtful as he discussed his thoughts and impressions of the 2016 presidential campaign. So much for my prejudices against conservatives.
His views on the Trump phenomena were particularly striking; not so much for their insightfulness but for the perspective he observes them from. Iâ€™d like to highlight a few points which I think add a new dimension to the current discussions.
â€śPeople are into manners or -- they're attracted by revolutions in manners more than revolutions in policies. And he has revolutionized the manners of how you run for president. â€¦ it's hyper aggressive -- he took the -- took the style of professional wrestling and he brought it to politics.â€ť Iâ€™ve long held that Trump has taken pettiness and crudeness and made it acceptable to many in the mainstream. He has taken the concept of â€ścivilityâ€ť and trashed it. What bothers me the most, I think, is not that he seems to run his campaign on demeaning one-liners, but that so many Americans are accepting of them without question. I think Trump showed remarkable self-awareness when he said, â€śOne of the key problems today is that politics is such a disgrace. Good people donâ€™t go into government.â€ť
â€ś (Trump is asked) â€śDo you think African-Americans are unfairly targeted by police?" You know, a concrete normal question. He knows nothing. And so he immediately starts talking about immigration. I mean there's just -- you know, when we go into a talk show or a conversation or a test, if you are a student, you are nervous if you don't have some level of preparation. But he's apparently un-nervous by the fact that he's unprepared. Most people go in and buy a sofa with more preparation than he is running with.â€ť Perhaps the most striking thing about the Trump candidacy has been his seemingly utter lack of knowledge about the world and, in particular, the issues facing America. When pressed for details, he typically has two responses: â€śTrust me,â€ť or change the subject. I think he clarified how he arrives at his decisions when he admitted, â€śâ€śI know what Iâ€™m doing, and I listen to a lot of people â€¦ I speak to a lot of people, but my primary consultant is myself, and I have a good instinct for this stuff.â€ť Unfortunately, â€śthis stuffâ€ť is the future of our country.
â€ś What is happening is because of social media and the omnipresence of social media. That everyone is afraid of become excluded or condemned in social media. So we're moving from guilt culture, I don't want to do what is wrong, to a shame culture, I don't want to be excluded from the group. And so it's a shift in the moral system. And so that fear of exclusion is the basis for our -- so the access is not right wrong, it is inclusion, exclusion. And if are you not being inclusive, then somehow you're doing something very wrong and you get the whole world falls down upon you. The problem with that is, if you have a set of universal transcendent truths you are trying to live up to it, you can stick to those truths through thick or thin. If you are always afraid of being excluded or condemned in social media, you are perpetually afraid of opinions of other people and that makes you perpetually insecure. And so, we get to the bottom line: Trump is a bully who has figured out that playing on the ignorance and insecurities of the American people works. Not making enough money? Blame it on the Mexicans. Feeling afraid? Blame it on the Muslims. Feel that your life is out of control? Itâ€™s those (bleeding) women and the media. Itâ€™s not your fault but I can make America great again. Trust Me. Trump has traded intelligence for cunning; reasoning for vacuous quips; leadership for authoritarianism. We shouldnâ€™t be surprised. He predicted it in 1998 when he said, â€śIf I were to run, Iâ€™d run as a Republican. Theyâ€™re the dumbest group of voters in America. They love anything on Fox news. I could lie and theyâ€™d still eat it up. I bet my numbers would terrific.â€ť
I think Mr. Brooks, like many of us, has grave concerns about this political season and his interview reflects his seriousness and articulates those concerns. Unfortunately â€“ also like many of us â€“ it is only a diagnosis of the illness that seems to be affecting America. His solution, cure thy self, is just more wishful thinking. We need to do more than speak out, we need to act by calling Trump out on his lies, his fallacies, and stand up against his bullying. Trust me.
An entry for GabriellaR45
Challenge: Write a review/commentary on Charlie Roseâ€™s interview of David Brooks
Word Count: 840