DAVID BROOKS: Whoever the Democratic candidate, that is the weakness of the Democratic party, they’ve got the blogs and the netroots who are semi-nuts and they insist on a Stalinist line of discipline.
CHRIS MATTHEWS: I love your objectivity.
DAVID BROOKS: It’s objectively true. I did a psychoanalytic test.
Crooks and Liars has the video. Brooks goes on to claim, when questioned, that there are more nuts on the left than the right. (And verily, there was much laughter.)
I try to respect David Brooks, because he tends to be more independently-minded than many of the conservative herd, and he occasionally makes some good points, as he did in two columns in the wake of Katrina asserting that compassion for the poor is a good thing. Yes, yes, it may be an obvious point, but it was nice to hear a conservative acknowledge it, since George Will and Rush Limbaugh (among others) took a stance opposed to Brooks. Plus, they were good pieces and it's always a small triumph when a pundit or columnist has neither drank the Koolaid nor taken a ridiculous contrarian position in a vain attempt to establish his or her free, bold thinking (see Richard Cohen).
My serious comment on Brooks is this... Okay, this is good-natured joshing on the one hand. On the other, how firmly does Brooks believe this? I'm not going to fault a conservative for thinking that that liberals are nuttier than his side. Still, speaking of "objective analysis," you'd be hard pressed to find racist posts or comments on a liberal site, whereas it's pretty commonplace on several prominent conservative sites such as Little Green Footballs. The same goes for expressing extremely violent thoughts towards one's political opponents. You can certainly find liberal bloggers and comments on their sites that use insulting language speaking about Bush and other conservatives. It can quickly become pretty infantile, even if the poster finds it cathartic... but you'll find this on sites of all political stripes. Meanwhile, it's commonplace for conservatives - but not liberals - to express a desire to see the opposition beaten, tortured, or hung. Ann "raghead" Coulter is not a fringe figure. Then there's Michael Fumento, who "joked" that if Cindy Sheehan did lash herself to the White House to protest the 2000th American soldier death in Iraq, it would be best to "Leave her there and maybe the crows will do the world a favor and eat her tongue out."
While the conservative netroots - and conservative media - consistently demonstrate views that seem much more extreme than those of any true conservative I know, I can't honestly say the same about the left. Does Brooks really think the liberal "netroots" are far outside the mainstream, and a weakness of the Democrats? I'd have to disagree... just as I'd have to disagree about there being discipline, Stalinist or otherwise! (Brooks was almost certainly indirectly referencing the Howell-Brady debacle at The Washington Post... of course, the underreported story of that is, when you're a major news source, get the story right, and when you make a mistake, admit it promptly rather than trying to defend it for two weeks!)
My less serious comment about Brooks (over at Crooks and Liars) was this:
Stalinist? Well, the neocons are mostly old Trotskyites gone hardcore right-wing, but I've always been more fond of Lenin myself. ;-)
At least Brooks avoided the classic Nazi comparison blunder! I'm hoping for a Mussolini reference next time!