Friday, October 23, 2020

Scattershot and ideological, methinks

 Years ago, I thought his book Bobos in Paradise was amusing even if blinkered in the way it used white-collar workers in the Acela Corridor as templates for pronouncements about changes in American culture. Since then, however, Bobos author David Brooks has been on a long glide into self-parody. 

Brooks is the guy who in 2005 was much taken with Barack Obama's "perfectly creased pants leg" after an interview. In a recent puff piece for The Atlantic titled "Bruce Springsteen and the Art of Aging Well," Brooks takes a gratuitous swipe at President Trump before strewing rhetorical flowers at Spingsteen's feet:

"President Donald Trump is a prime example of an unsuccessful older person," Brooks writes, "-- one who still lusts for external validation, who doesn't know who he is, who knows no peace." 

Sheesh. That's amateur psychoanalysis at its most disposable, not to say hilarious. Donald Trump seems to know exactly who he is. More than that, he seems comfortable with  himself (as does his very different but complementary Vice President, by the way). Heck, Trump seems to appreciate people who are comfortable with themselves (not least among them Melania Trump), and you can't do that if you're insecure. How Brooks missed that when it's been on public display as long as it has, I'm not sure. Why he missed it is easier to explain -- the man has axes to grind, and they have nothing to do with Bruce Springsteen's latest album. Perhaps the "problem" is that Trump does not care to be validated by the same people that Brooks does. Cocktail party invitations don't mean as much to bar owners as to partygoers who are still looking for signs that their phone calls get returned.

"The Boss" may indeed have life lessons to teach us, but it's hard to stomach Brooks' sycophancy knowing that Bruce has said he'd be on "the next plane to Australia" if American election results don't meet with his approval. Whatsa matter, boss man? You've already got your mansion on a hill. Do ya still feel like you're a rider on a downbound train?

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