(No Politics Friday has been cancelled on account of the stupendous crapulence of David Brooks)

For the many of you who don't care about baseball, let me quickly explain what "FJM treatment" or "FJMing" means. The blog Fire Joe Morgan is written by an excellent staff of folks who love to take idiotic opinion pieces, dissect them, and offer a line-by-line rebuttal (example). David Brooks' defense of ABC's universally-panned Pennsylvania Democratic "debate" last night cries out for the FJM treatment. Let's begin. Brooks in bold, Ed in regular font.

First, Democrats, and especially Obama supporters, are going to jump all over ABC for the choice of topics: too many gaffe questions, not enough policy questions.

Whiners. What kind of people expect "policy" questions during a debate between two evenly-matched candidates who hold similar positions on many issues? What would that accomplish other than possibly allowing voters to identify some substantive differences between the candidates in the closest election since the invention of fire?

I understand the complaints, but I thought the questions were excellent.

Boom! David Brooks: Contrarian! Mr. Going Against the Grain! Sticking up for the little guy: Multi-Billion Dollar Establishment Media!

The journalist's job is to make politicians uncomfortable, to explore evasions, contradictions and vulnerabilities.

I thought their job was to report facts.

Almost every question tonight did that. The candidates each looked foolish at times, but that's their own fault.

Maybe they had mistakenly prepared answers for questions about gas prices, home mortgages, and Iraq.

We may not like it, but issues like Jeremiah Wright, flag lapels and the Tuzla airport will be important in the fall. Remember how George H.W. Bush toured flag factories to expose Michael Dukakis. It's legitimate to see how the candidates will respond to these sorts of symbolic issues.

David Brooks, you are a very stupid person. This is the most ridiculous circular logic I hope to see before I die (which, after reading your column, I pray happens before you can write another). Media must cover irrelevant, sensationalist, "gotcha" right-wing talk radio issues because they are important to voters because the media cover them incessantly. Here in the Ivory Tower, we have some data that shows (shockingly) that there's a pretty strong correlation between what the media talk about and what people say are important issues.

The middle section of the debate, meanwhile, was stupendous. Those could be the most important 30 minutes of this entire campaign, for reasons I will explain in point two:

Tremendously important. For the 0.000000000000000000001% of the electorate that was still watching after the FULL HOUR of yellow journalism nonsense that preceded this Important Thirty Minutes.

Obama and Clinton were completely irresponsible. As the first President Bush discovered, it is simply irresponsible statesmanship (and stupid politics) to make blanket pledges to win votes. Both candidates did that on vital issues.

They made statements about where they stand on issues, up to and including promising that they would or would not do certain things? Unbelievable.

Both promised to not raise taxes on those making less than $200,000 or $250,000 a year. They both just emasculated their domestic programs. Returning the rich to their Clinton-era tax rates will yield, at best, $40 billion a year in revenue.

Unless they stop shitting $341 million per day into Iraq. That could be a potential source of savings. Of course no "Serious" candidate (Brooks' favorite term) would ever consider shoveling fewer dollars into that gaping Sarlaac of waste and shame.

It’s impossible to fund a health care plan, let alone anything else, with that kind of money.

No way $341 million per day could cover any of that.

The second pledge was just as bad. Nobody knows what the situation in Iraq will be like. To pledge an automatic withdrawal is just insane.

No one can possibly know what the situation in Iraq will be like. No chance at all that it will be exactly the same as it is today and has been for five fucking years. This is the Pro-War Faction's most tired argument: We Just Can't Know. It Is Unknowable. Maybe we'll know more in six months! Or "by the end of the year!" Or "soon!" But not now. Never now. Always Soon.

A mature politician would’ve been honest and said: I fully intend to withdraw, but I want to know what the reality is at that moment.

"Mature" and "Serious" people always leave easy outs that allow them to go back on their promises! People love that. Voters love that. They always want to hear some wiggle room. David Brooks, your understanding of the American Voter is flawed and you are a stupid person.

The third point concerns electability. The Democrats have a problem. All the signs point to a big Democratic year, and I still wouldn’t bet against Obama winning the White House, but his background as a Hyde Park liberal is going to continue to dog him.

Can Obama overcome the fact that smart, successful, educated people like him? People who might even know more about the candidates than Flag Lapel Pins and "Bittergate" and how Hillary tips?

For the life of me I can’t figure out why he didn’t have better answers on Wright and on the “bitter” comments.

He foolishly gave Gibson and Stephanopolous the benefit of the doubt. Lesson learned.

The superdelegates cannot have been comforted by his performance.

Yep, they were all tuning in to see how Obama would be asked to defend his love of America and his pastor's love of America for the 197481046539829156th time. They won't be happy until they can find a candidate who does a better job of realizing how pants-shittingly stupid the media are.

Final grades:
ABC: A, Clinton: B, Obama: D+

Well everyone else on the planet said ABC should be taken out behind the chemical sheds and shot (hat-tip Alan Moore) but BAM! David Brooks the Contrarian says they get an A.

My gas is $3.50/gal and the war is costing $341 million EVERY 24 HOURS. Only someone who makes $250,000 sucking up to the Beltway establishment could give ABC an A for this disgraceful display. David, if you were one of my undergrads and you handed this column in as an assignment, I would not only fail you but I would summon you to my office hours and recommend that you drop out of college immediately. I would then follow you home and kick your dog.

Clinton and Obama get an A for not choking Charles Gibson with George Stephanopolous' severed head. ABC loses at life. David Brooks gets Pancreatic Cancer. I am a tough but fair grader.


  • If your students turn in completely crap assignments, do you ever grade them like this? I really wish you could give David Brooks pancreatic cancer. That would make my day.

    Also, I was reminded of this graph, which the NYT published a few years ago.

  • What, you expect the lazy so-called journalists to actually get off their dead asses and do their job?? How naive, besides the owners of the media doesn't want the voters to be informed about the candidates. Informed about the gaffes they make but not about where they stand on the issues. Issues, what issues, nothing to see here, move along.

  • Please tell me this dissection has been sent directly to Mr. Brooks… please make my day and tell me this has happened.

  • The strongest compliment I can pay this site and its author is that I'm starting to put it in the same category as I do Stewart and Colbert–namely, something I immediately turn to when I have the reaction of "Was that just completely in(s)ane, or am I alone on this?" My immediate response to the presence of George S. was "Um, did nobody check his CV? Might he not, perhaps, have a *wee* bit of bias on this one? What the fuck is he *doing* there???" Then I heard his questions and realized that he and Gibson had clearly been chosen because this was the moderator equivalent of the Special Olympics–witness the degree to which ABC told them proudly that they were both winners! Winners! (Big hugs.) And for Brooks to align himself with these special, special people just goes to show how very…special he is. Poor Obama–he found himself the 'straight man' to a couple of clowns in an unfunny SNL sketch (redundant, I know) and didn't realize it until it was too late.

  • "Clinton and Obama get an A for not choking Charles Gibson with George Stephanopolous’ severed head. ABC loses at life. David Brooks gets Pancreatic Cancer. I am a tough but fair grader."

    OK, that hurts – I now have some split sides to have sutured. I am forwarding the medical bill.

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