Damning with faint, faint praise

By Dave Andrusko

David Brooks

New York Times columnist David Brooks is not the only “conservative” to have fallen in love with candidate Barack Obama, nor the only one to hold fast while every platitude that flowed from his word processor fell flat. Although none of the qualities they imagined they’d found in Barack Obama ever made their way into his style of government, it’s not been until well into Obama’s third year in office that they began to desert.

So where does Brooks find himself eight days out from the election? Well, in his column today, Brooks offers the most back-handed, done-holding-my-nose “endorsement” of Mitt Romney.

This will not be a lengthy post, because my point is not complicated. It’s bad enough that more-or-less straight shooters like Brooks (who is, of course, a “conservative” in his own mind only) fell in love with the Obama hologram he created. In some ways it’s worse that Brooks holds on to whatever  the afterglow of a hologram would be.

By that I mean that Brooks is still infatuated with the creature-of-his-own-imagination Obama and still barely tolerates Romney, whom he has clobbered with the same intensity he has embraced President Obama. Thus the “good” things he writes about Romney today are thinly-veiled criticisms—harshly personal and often vituperative in nature. And when he kind of  “praises” Romney he does so by citing the very qualities his critics love to trash Romney with.

Just to take one example, you don’t have to romanticize Gov. Romney’s relationship with the Massachusetts legislature, a more-or-less homogeneous (read Democratic) body. There was plenty of conflict, but things got done.

Contrast that with President Obama, whose “leading from the rear” leadership style would be grounds for the mainstream media to demand impeachment, were it a Republican President. Even Obama’s strongest supporters grasp for straws when they try to cite evidence that Obama worked to bridge the partisan gap. (In fact, Obama made the natural antagonisms infinitely worse by his haughty dismissal of Republicans when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.)

As President Romney will be a 100% better chief executive officer than Obama ever was. That may be small potatoes to Brooks, but it will make a huge difference in trying to end gridlock in Washington, DC.