New York Times columnist David Brooks, one of the early right-of-center luminaries to fall madly in love with Barack Obama, finds that the spell has broken. It appears that the president's recent jobs plan was a crease too far:
This is a campaign marker, not a jobs bill.
It recycles ideas that couldn't get passed even when Democrats controlled Congress. In his remarks Monday the president didn't try to win Republicans to even some parts of his measures. He repeated the populist cries that fire up liberals but are designed to enrage moderates and conservatives.
He claimed we can afford future Medicare costs if we raise taxes on the rich. He repeated the old half-truth about millionaires not paying as much in taxes as their secretaries. (In reality, the top 10 percent of earners pay nearly 70 percent of all income taxes, according to the I.R.S. People in the richest 1 percent pay 31 percent of their income to the federal government while the average worker pays less than 14 percent, according to the Congressional Budget Office.)
This wasn't a speech to get something done. This was the sort of speech that sounded better when Ted Kennedy was delivering it. The result is that we will get neither short-term stimulus nor long-term debt reduction anytime soon, and I'm a sap for thinking it was possible.
Brooks may be disillusioned, but he clings to the hope that the "president's soul" would still like to do something about structural reform. Brooks is in favor of bringing in more "revenue" (i.e., Brooks thinks that there are taxes that could be raised). Indeed, Brooks is an older and wiser sap, but still…
The White House has decided to wage the campaign as fighting liberals. I guess I understand the choice, but I still believe in the governing style Obama talked about in 2008. I may be the last one. I'm a sap.
Ah, that halcyon 2008!
My only question is whether Mr. Brooks's disenchantment will turn out to be as brief as that of his fellow New York Times colleague Maureen Dowd, who was wooed back to the flock by some of the very same rhetoric that has sent Brooks scurrying.