Imagine New York Times "conservative" columnist David Brooks decked out in a Maquis beret as part of the Ivory Tower resistance movement against the evil TrumpenReich. He runs out into the street to stop traffic, including emergency vehicles, while screaming vehement rhetoric to mobilize mass opposition to the fascistic dictatorship of President Donald Trump.
Yeah it sounds hilariously absurd, but what makes it even funnier is that Brooks is dead serious. It is part of his Valentine's Day delusion in which he envisions several kinds of resistance movements that could counter Trump.
Although Brooks once presented himself as some sort of "civilized conservative" enlightened enough to appreciate the sharp crease in Barack Obama's pants, he has descended into unhinged delusions since Trump's victory. Just three days after the election, Brooks even predicted that President Trump would probably resign or be impeached within a year. Since that doesn't look like it will happen, Brooks has slid even further down the slope of sanity with today's column which proposes laughable resistance scenarios:
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How should one resist the Trump administration? Well, that depends on what kind of threat Donald Trump represents.
It could be that the primary Trump threat is authoritarianism. It is hard to imagine America turning into full fascism, but it is possible to see it sliding into the sort of “repressive kleptocracy” that David Frum describes in the current Atlantic — like the regimes that now run Hungary, the Philippines, Venezuela and Poland.
In such a regime, democratic rights are slowly eroded. Government critics are harassed. Federal contracts go to politically connected autocrats. Congress, the media and the judiciary bend their knee to the vengeful strongman.
If that’s the threat, then Dietrich Bonhoeffer is the model for the resistance. Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor who became an anti-Nazi dissident. Between 1933 and his capture in 1943, he condemned the Reich, protested the persecution of the Jews, organized underground seminaries and joined the German resistance. In the face of fascism, he wrote, it was not enough to simply “bandage the victims under the wheels of injustice, but jam a spoke into the wheel itself.”
Brooks implies that Trump could be another Hugo Chavez but who he really means is You-Know-Who by invoking Bonhoeffer but is too embarrassed to say straight up.
If we are in a Bonhoeffer moment, then aggressive nonviolent action makes sense: marching in the streets, blocking traffic, disrupting town halls, vehement rhetoric to mobilize mass opposition.
In the case of David Brooks, it is more like he is in a Sigmund Freud moment. Now point out to the good doctor where on the doll Donald Trump hurt you, David:
On the other hand, it could be that the primary threat is stagnation and corruption. In this scenario, the Trump administration doesn’t create an authoritarian regime, but national politics turns into a vicious muck of tweet and countertweet, scandal and pseudoscandal, partisan attack and counterattack.
If that’s the threat, St. Benedict is the model for resistance. Benedict was a young Umbrian man who was sent to study in Rome after the fall of the empire. Disgusted by the corruption all around, he fled to the wilderness and founded monastic communities across Europe. If Rome was going to sink into barbarism, then Benedictines could lead healthy lives and construct new forms of community far from the decayiAnng center.
If we are in a Benedict moment, the smart thing to do is to ignore the degradation in Washington and make your contribution at the state and local levels.
And with this latest resistance delusion, it seems that David Brooks has entered his Benedictine liqueur moment. Much too much of it.
The third possibility is that the primary threat in the Trump era is a combination of incompetence and anarchy. It could be that Trump is a chaotic clown incapable of conducting coherent policy. It could be that his staff members are a bunch of inexperienced second-raters.
...In this scenario, the crucial question is how to replace and repair. The model for the resistance is Gerald Ford, a decent, modest, experienced public servant who believed in the institutions of government, who restored faith in government, who had a plan to bind the nation’s wounds and restored normalcy and competence.
Personally, I don’t think we’re at a Bonhoeffer moment or a Benedict moment. I think we’re approaching a Ford moment. If the first three weeks are any guide, this administration will not sustain itself for a full term. We’ll need a Ford, or rather a generation of Fords to restore effective governance.
A "Ford moment?" This makes me think Brooks is back in his Benedictine liqueur moment. Here he implies that Trump will resign just as Richard Nixon did. Actually Brooks needs, desperately needs, Trump to leave office. If not, then Brooks' mental stability will continue to slide. Ironically, this will make his columns even more comedically entertaining to read in stark contrast to the Obama years when his writings were boringly supportive of the Creased Pants presidency.