INAUGURATE THIS: David Brooks doesn’t believe all those things!


Part 2—Is David Brooks we the people: Do “we the people” believe all those things, the way Obama said?

In his Inaugural Address, the president listed a whole bunch of things “we the people” were said to believe. But do we really believe all that stuff? And if we do, why has it been so hard, for so many years, to get legislation passed, the kind of legislation we like?

Uh-oh! Just that quickly, one alleged person stuck up his head and said he doesn’t believe all those things. He said he doesn’t believe all the things Obama said!

The person is question is David Brooks. The very next day, in the New York Times, David Brooks spouted like this:
BROOKS (1/22/13): Reinvigorating a mature nation means using government to give people the tools to compete, but then opening up a wide field so they do so raucously and creatively. It means spending more here but deregulating more there. It means facing the fact that we do have to choose between the current benefits to seniors and investments in our future, and that to pretend we don’t face that choice, as Obama did, is effectively to sacrifice the future to the past.
Say what? According to Obama's address, we the people “reject the belief that America must choose between caring for the generation that built this country and investing in the generation that will build its future.”

When the choice is phrased that way, no one would want to sign up for the other team. But Brooks seemed to say that he doesn’t believe the things implied by that passage.

Is David Brooks part of “we the people?” A few inquiring liberal minds are perhaps starting to ask.

For the record, Brooks was quite complimentary about Obama’s address. In the Times, he said it “surely has to rank among the best [inaugural addresses] of the past half-century.” On the NewsHour, he said the same thing, adding this: “I thought he raised the debate.”

But uh-oh! David Brooks doesn’t believe all the things Obama listed! We the people may believe all those things. But at least one columnist doesn’t!

For us, this was the strangest part of Obama’s address. For ourselves, we tend to agree with the various things the president said and implied in his speech. For example: Until we’re shown otherwise, we tend to believe that we don’t have to choose between our grandmothers and our great nieces as we budget for the future.

Unlike Brooks, we aren’t inclined to believe we need to roll back our retirement programs in order to “invest in our future.” But for whatever reason, tens of millions of people tend to see it the way Brooks does, if not a great deal more so.

They’re part of “we the people” too, unless we liberals and pseudo-liberals have now gone totally tribal.

For us, it was the oddest part of Obama’s address, this repeated claim that “we the people” believe all sorts of things which, rather plainly, we simply don’t believe.

We the liberals believe those things. We the people don't.

Our question today: Why is that? Why is it that so many people do not believe the things Obama said and implied?

Make no mistake: We the people do not hold the various beliefs Obama attributed to us. For one highly consequential example, consider what Obama said we the people believe about climate change:
OBAMA (1/21/13): We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.
Do we the people “know that the failure to respond to the threat of climate change would betray our children and future generations?” Actually, no—we do not.

A few days before Obama’s address, CNN released a new survey about climate change. Below, you see the choices we the people were given—and you can see what we said:
QUESTION FROM CNN: Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of global warming?

Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by emissions from cars and industrial facilities such as power plants and factories.

Global warming is a proven fact and is mostly caused by natural changes that have nothing to do with emissions from cars and industrial facilities.

Global warming is a theory that has not yet been proven.

A proven fact, mostly caused by emissions: 49 percent
A proven fact, mostly caused by natural changes: 24 percent
An unproven theory: 23 percent
Unsure: 3 percent
Uh-oh! Obama got 51.1 percent of the vote—and 49 percent of we the people believe that climate change is mostly caused by emissions. In October 2007, that figure stood at 56 percent.

"Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science?" In this recent survey, that “some” was half the country!

It sounded good when we told ourselves that “we the people” believe all those things—the things that we the liberals believe. But making this claim doesn’t make it true, and as Obama starts his second term, he’s stuck with a bad situation:

In the past forty years, we the liberals have done a very poor job persuading others of our beliefs. Even when our beliefs have been blindingly obvious, we haven’t been able to get them the people to agree.

(If we lower tax rates, we get extra revenue! The Social Security trust fund is just an accounting fiction! Susan Rice said that Benghazi wasn't a terrorist attack!)

Endless nonsense has been spewed through the land. We the liberals have shown little skill at persuading we the people not to believe it.

Why have we the liberals failed? Tomorrow, we’ll pose one idea.

Tomorrow: Dishes served cold

Friday: Them the authoritarians


  1. Every time TDH holds out serial dissembler Susan Rice as a beacon of truth it loses credibility.

    Does it matter whether the lie is not that she said it wasn't a terrorist attack but rather that she said she didn't know if it was a terrorist attack? Who would believe any further statements from her on, say, US involvement in Mali? Only tribe members, and not all of them either.

    1. Every time you misrepresent that Rice has been held out by Somerby as "a beacon of truth," you confirm that you are a useless twit.

      Pointing out that Rice's statements were broadly misrepresented is in no way an assertion that she herself has not engaged in misrepresentations.

      Any fool can understand that.

      Well almost any -- But as is abundantly clear, you are an exceptional fool.

    2. So TDH has acknowledged that Rice made misrepresentations? When?

    3. Of course, TDH will never acknowledge Rice misrepresentations. TDH will go from silent, to looking forward, not back...

      Just like Secretary Clinton today, "what difference does it make?"

      Yes, that's right, let's not bicker and argue over who killed who...

    4. So you've surrendered: The Daily Howler, despite your bullshit, *never* held out "Susan Rice as a beacon of truth."

      Now, you're admitting you wanted, instead of coverage of how the press extensively misled about what Rice said in a particular instance, coverage that misled the public quite broadly for a period a weeks -- instead of that, you wanted the Howler to cover something else.

      You're a liar -- we've established that. And you're also a bore.

    5. You cite 3 "big lies" in the post above--on lower taxes, social security ....and Susan Rice. You seem to think that Susan Rice/Benghazi coverage is one of the 3 biggest press failures of the past 30 years. But you do not hold her out as a beacon of truth? Puhleeeze.

      TDH wanted the press to act as stenographers to Rice and not to paraphrase her varied constructions on the events that didn't actually happen. Pathetic.

      I said you would not acknowledge Rice's misrepresentations and you haven't. I did not back down from the claim that you continue to hold Rice out as a beacon of truth.

      Why don't you just write that the press failed to repeat verbatim Rice's inaccurate claims and leave it at that?

    6. It has nothing to do with repeating verbatim, but making false rather than accurate paraphrases. You and all the others here still beating this dead horse -- press misconduct is not the dead horse, but the idea that she actually said anything misleading is -- have never been willing to consider -- probably never bothered to look at -- the entire record of her statements that day. TDH has been 100% correct on this one because he did bother.

    7. We know she said misleading, as in inaccurate-and-not-true things, because Rice admitted that herself in her own press release.

      Of course, try to avert your eyes from the BBC's paraphrase:

      But Bob is well past that...he continues to insist that the press should have more accurately conveyed Rice's incorrect information. He doesn't state a view on whether Rice knew it was incorrect when she dished it out...only that it was a travesty that her wrong facts weren't better disseminated.

      And you're with him on that?

    8. "He doesn't state a view on whether Rice knew it was incorrect when she dished it out."

      No, and as recently as Hillary Clinton's testimony on Benghazi, there is still no evidence whatsoever that *anyone* "knew it was incorrect" at the time.

      You are a liar.

      Contrary to your statements and implications, this blog never claimed Rice was correct about any factual matter, in any event.

      The facts of the press coverage, however, are very clear:

      The press, far from merely being "inaccurate," grossly distorted Rice's statements, to suit a GOP frame. This blog, virtually alone, called out those distortions.

    9. You forgot to mention what the lie was...but it's fun to emote!

  2. Unfortunately, it's wishful thinking to imagine that we can invest in the future without rolling back our retirement programs. Spending on Medicare, Medicaid, the Obamacare subsidies, and Social Security will devour all federal revenues by 2045.

    1. That's some "can-do" spirit you got Dave.

      Why so little faith in America? I guess you must not be very patriotic, after all.

    2. As TDH has pointed out many many times, these future budget problems stem entirely from the crazy price of (and forecast prices of) US heath care which is double that of any other country.

    3. Why do you feed this troll?

    4. What is hilarious about people like David suggesting we should cut back on retirement programs in order to "invest in the future" is that if we do so, it's going to be the younger people who would have their turn to benefit from these programs in the future who will really get screwed. Even the Republicans are not going to touch current or near seniors. We actually are looking out for our kids and our grandkids -- wanting them to be assured of at least as much retirement security as we have had -- more than ourselves

  3. As a reconfirmed president Obama is redefining American-ism -- and Un-American-ism. The right-wing fringe are improper thinkers who need to get right with America's founding principles. You can be born American or become a naturalized and harbor unholy thoughts, but to be a true American you must see the world as Obama has so simply laid it out.

    They have been saying such things about us for decades. Now it's our turn to marginalize them, isolate them, corner them, and ... SMASH THEM.

  4. "We the liberals have shown little skill at persuading we the people."

    "Why have we the liberals failed? Tomorrow, we’ll pose one idea."

    Unless your "idea" gets directly at the role of wealth in both the means of mass communication and the means of political change in this country, I don't think it will be very enlightening.

    Can't wait!

  5. Interesting how Bob spins it.

    Another and completely logical way to look at it would be to say that 73 percent of the country agrees that global warming is happening, and by a 2-1 margin, believe it is exacerbated, if not created, by human activity.

    And I would think that the 24 percent who believe that science has proven the case for global warming (despite the massive and well-funded dissembling campaign) might also be open to some level of persuasion about the role in human activity. It's not that much of a leap.

    But not Bob. He just lumps them in with 23 percent who buy into the anti-science propaganda campaign, as well as the 3 percent who gave no response to the pollster, and then blames "liberals" for failing to persuade them.

    1. Well, you'd think wrong. There's no reason to not acknowledge the human role in climate change if you already agree that the globe is indeed warming: unless you buy the disinfo campaign.

    2. No, the disinfo campaign won't even acknowledge that the globe is even warming. If you were really as up on this subject as you think you are, you would find many of their hired guns are even posing the notion that the globe stopped warming somewhere in the late 1990s and is indeed COOLING -- against all available evidence.

      Do not weep that 23 percent of the people buy that. And go wringing your hands over those "other" liberals who have failed to convince them. It would be like teaching algebra to my cat. Not that my cat is necessarily stupid. It's just that he is totally disinterested.

      And that's what the root problem is here. Not some Strother Martin "liberal" "failure to communicate."

      It's just that some people are always easily led by slick propaganda, and check out Nazi Germany to find out how easy that is.

      We can all rejoice that in America and on this issue, the easily led amount to such a small minority.

    3. TDH has had some excellent points to make on how liberals have done a poor job of dispelling a lot of right-wing the myths (like the failing schools tripe or the President feeling the need to recite the utterly silly and childish notion that government has to "tighten its belt just like a family"), but for perspective let's not forget that Democratic candidates have won five out of the last six Presidential elections.

      But a lot of work still needs to be done. An overwhelming majority of Americans, of all parties, do not want Social Security benefits to be touched. When they were informed what it actually was, a similar majority wanted a public option to be part of ACA. It's a crime we don't have a Democratic House.

  6. Bob starts this out by asking "Is David Brooks we the people" ? The short answer is no, he is not. Ok, literally speaking he is, but then again, so is the Unabomber. Brooks's opinion on the issues outlined in Obama's speech are by and large NOT the majority opinion. In fact, in most polls on most of these issues the Democrats are much closer to "we the people" than the GOP. Why should Obama using the bully pulpit to nudge people who are already sympathetic to his position into a stronger acceptance be a problem ? This is called politics everywhere except howlerworld where only some perfect neo-Platonic discussion is allowed. But I'll check in tomorrow to see Bob's explanation for how liberals have failed

    1. Don't bother checking back. Bob's not going to say anything new at this point.

    2. "howlerworld where only some perfect neo-Platonic discussion is allowed."

      And actually, Obama even took Bob's advice once -- in the first debate.

      Remember how well that convinced all those people?

  7. Anonymous wrote: many of their hired guns are even posing the notion that the globe stopped warming somewhere in the late 1990s and is indeed COOLING -- against all available evidence.

    Anon, I suggest you personally look at the evidence. Here is a chart of the UAH Satellite-based temperature of the global lower atmosphere. You can see with your own eyes that from 1998 forward temperature has been pretty level.

    Now, a lull in temperature doesn't prove that warming won't start up again. However, it raises a question: Why did warming pretty much stop during a 15 year period, even though CO2 and greenhouse gases continued to rise rapidly? At this point, the climate models do not have a conclusive explanation.

    1. That's pretty interesting...but so is the fact that the website's author has not only seen through the global warming hoax, but also through that crazy Darwin's "theory" of evolution.

      D. in C.,
      Why do intelligent design and climate change denial have to come as a package?

    2. You ask the people who spend their lives studying this kind of data. If you're an educated person, you sure as hell don't start trying to make your own interpretations of a slice of data when you have no qualifications to make any useful statements about it.

    3. From Wikipedia:

      Satellite datasets show that over the past four decades the troposphere has warmed and the stratosphere has cooled. Both of these trends are consistent with the influence of increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases.

      What urban legend says but D in C will ignore because D in C is a troll.

    4. Thank you, David in Cal, for proving my point that some people will swallow whole everything they are told because they want to, regardless of the mountain of empirical evidence that should tell them clearly that they no nothing what they are talking about.

      Global warming science is complicated. I find again find great comfort in the fact that an overwhelming majority of people with working brains (as opposed to our friend, David) are smart enough to look at the data and realize that the globe is warming at an alarming rate with alarming, predictable consequences for humankind.

      Even if they disagree on the level of human activity responsible for it, they don't doubt what is staring them in the face.

      And unlike our friend David, they might just be open to further education, rather than propaganda.

    5. Draw a fucking trend-line, DinC. Global warming is measured over decades, not months. Draw a trend-line on that graph, and tell me what it says about the global temperature.

    6. Free thinker, The trend line shows that temperature has increased over the whole period, of course. And it shows there's been no increase for the last 15 years.

      Maybe I wasn't clear. I agree that temperature has been rising. And, I think man's activity likely played a role. However, IMHO the global warming models aren't that reliable, because they can't explain the leveling off during the last decade and a half. And, all of the models in the 1990's predicted considerably higher temperatures than we're seeing today.

      Note also that things look less frightening today than they did 15 years ago. From 1979 to 1998, temperture increased 0.8 degrees. At that rate, temperature would increase by over 4 degrees in 100 years.

      However, from 1979 to 2012, temperature increased by 0.45 degrees. At that rate, in 100 years, temperature would rise by less than a degree and a half. A rise of 1.5 degrees isn't catastrophic.

  8. The republican leadership treats issues like products. It tries them out and if a plurality of the people or even a vocal minority take the bait the leaders turn on a full PR and marketing campaign. The issue is not as important to them as its ability to work people up for the party. The republicans collect the data and determine what a measured response to that data should be and then sail with it as long as the product has legs. If the desired effect is not forthcoming they drop the issue as quickly as they picked it up. Conservatives are not concerned about issues as issues, they are seen as tools in their arsenal to achieve and hold power.for the ultimate goal of controlling the economy.

  9. Social Security is not an "entitlement" it is an earned and paid for benefit. It is stop gap insurance to protect against starvation and homelessness. The republican plan for subsistence is cat food and a large cardboard box. Americans are either in this together or they are not and if they are not it's pitchforks and torches.

    1. It is an entitlement, precisely because people are entitled to the benefit they paid all their lives for.