Sunday, May 23, 2004

Michael Kinsley, Bore

The uncharacteristically too-serious Michael Kinsley wonders whether David Brooks is a sociologist and whether he is really a conservative. (Actually Kinsley's over-seriousness is somewhat redeemed in the end by his calling Brooks French.)

Since people in the "red" states whom Brooks mostly seeks to defend don't trust sociology anyway (although Brooks says they read just as much as blue-staters), what matters is whether the newest New York Times op-ed regular is a conservative.

Kinsely answers no, and he seizes upon Brooks's criticisms of capitalism as his proof. But anyone of Kinsley's vintage knows that Brooks emerged from a school or clique that only ever gave capitalism "two cheers."

So what's all the fuss about? Michael Kinsely is upset that Brooks, clearly a conservative, is flat-out wittier and funnier than he is. That Brooks can critique and, nevertheless, embrace suburbia drives liberals like Kinsely crazy. It leaves them without the tiresome "shtick" Kinsely wants to attribute to Brooks.

David Brooks isn't a bad sociologist either. He may not be Tocqueville, but he understands America better than Kinsley does.


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