I awoke this morning with a sense of dread. That’s not unusual, but today’s worry felt especially acute: Someone out there was coming after me, personally. Thankfully my commute proved uneventful.
“Perhaps I’m succumbing to a Palin-esque apocalyptic mindset,” I thought. Had the constant torture that is reading the news finally taken its toll on me? Was I becoming just another paranoid weirdo, seeking to elevate my forgettable existence to the status of legend by imagining some great foe lurking around every corner? I was forced to conclude that that possibility couldn’t be ruled out.
Then, upon opening the the New York Times’ Op-Ed page — which so often, on days other than Monday, Friday, or Sunday, proved to be that which tortured me most — I found my dread was warranted. The eternally repulsive David Brooks had the gall to pen a new free-form nonsense poem in which he — gasp — dared to mention the place of my birth, the very earth from whence I came, by name. Oh, cruel day!
For any of you who aren’t familiar with my long-standing feud with old-man Brooks, here is but one example of how I have previously characterized him:
Twice every week, the warden at Bellvue Hospital for the Criminally Insane unlocks a heavy steel door with a name tag next to it that reads “David Brooks, columnist.” The warden opens the door, heaves in a typewriter and a raw steak, and Brooks–bound by a straight jacket and frothing at the mouth–pounds out his twice-weekly missive by repeatedly smashing his head against the keyboard until a mix of blood, tears, and neocoservativism has dirtied the page.
So, yes, suffice it to say that I don’t care for him, nor, I would think, he for I. And yet. AND YET. He sees fit to soil the good name of the town my parents still call home by including it in his fever-dream-induced ramblings, arguing that my town, Dubuque, is the future:
Many of these places [people will be moving to] will be in the sunbelt — the drive to move there remains strong — but Kotkin also points to surging low-cost hubs on the Plains, like Fargo, Dubuque, Iowa City, Sioux Falls, and Boise.
OH, VILLAIN! How dare you call my love beautiful? You wouldn’t understand Dubuque if the lovable townspeople drowned you in the Mississippi River! True, it is worse to read my enemy speak fairly of that which I cherish than to deride it — though smarmy condescension bleeds through even the most praiseful prose the peach-faced man is capable of.
The rest of Brooks the Crook’s nightmare screed reads like he’s a man on a boat taking on water — using a decorative spoon to slow the ship’s inevitable sinking. “America is still great,” he screams, “and it’s only getting better.” His desperation is embarrassing; one of his stature should hide how important American Exceptionalism is to his identity.
He reminds me of the sad sacks who populate Eugene O’Neil’s masterpiece The Iceman Cometh, each waiting for Hickey to arrive so they can have some real fun (though Brooks is less sympathetic a character than any of them). Sitting in the back of Harry Hope’s, they tell each other that tomorrow will be better. They’ll quit drinkin’. They’ll take a walk around the block. Tomorrow, they say, we’ll get it right.
Hickey of course arrives, but instead of having a party with them, he challenges them to see how their own mistakes have lead them astray. They briefly take the bait, only to end up in exactly the same situation as before after Hickey’s history is revealed.
Brooks’ devotion to American Exceptionalism precludes the necessary action one must take to right this war-making battleship. Meet him in the back of Harry Hope’s.