New York Times columnist David Brooks always knows he's sitting on a liberal Democrat set at the PBS NewsHour. PBS viewers don't want a real conservative that makes conservative arguments. Only insults are welcome. So in praising Chris Christie on Friday's show, he said the 2012 GOP presidential debates were "Looney Tunes." He was dead serious.
But when the subject turned to liberal Democrats in New York City, he made a very mild crack about the "Democratic intelligentsia, such as it is," and immediately retracted and apologized:
BROOKS: Wage stagnation is a real issue. And so you have had the Democratic intelligentsia, such as it is... (Laughter) That wasn't fair. I apologize.
He went on to say that "economic progressivism" is where all the energy is on the Democratic side, that Hillary Clinton will be challenged from someone more socialistic:
BROOKS: I do think we will see a primary challenge to Hillary Clinton from this side. That's where the a lot of the ideas are. That's where the a lot of the donors are. There's just a lot of energy there, maybe more than any other spot in American politics right now.
So, I do think we will see more de Blasios. The one caution, I would say, is remember the irrational exuberance that surrounded the Occupy movement, when people thought, oh, this is a big coming thing. Well, not really. The Occupy movement wasn't the Tea Party movement. It was not as big, not as enduring. So, I'm not totally confident, but I do think this is where the energy is in the Democratic Party and we will see a rise of economic progressivism.
MARK SHIELDS: This is based on reality. I mean, it's reality-based. I mean, you can't look at the 21st century in the United States and see anything but the median household income has gone down every year. I mean, so we're not talking about some fabricated grievances. This is truly reality.
On the Republican side, Brooks said he looked forward to presidential debates between Christie and a Tea Party conservative like Ted Cruz or Rand Paul:
BROOKS: Right, and in part because this coming presidential -- the last Republican primary process which we were stuck with was miserable. It was horrible. There were no debates. It was Looney Tunes. And this one is actually a big debate.
SHIELDS: You didn't say that at the time.
BROOKS: I didn't -- I felt it. I felt it in my heart. (Laughter) Some -- you remember those debates? They were Looney Tunes.
Actually, Brooks didn't shy away from insulting GOP candidates in 2011-12. When Politico started to sink Herman Cain with unproven charges of sexual harassment, Brooks sneered Cain needed to learn "you have got to practice politics at the kindergarten level." Was this the end of Cain? Brooks shot back "There was no beginning. He was a TV show that lasted for a little while."
Newt Gingrich? Brooks shocked many by claiming "I wouldn't let him run a 7-Eleven, let alone a country."
Even Mitt Romney was a notorious cold fish: "when Mitt Romney would walk in one of those pre-debate green rooms, the emotional temperature would just drop."
Does the room warm up when David Brooks walks into a party?