Magazine article Editor & Publisher

UPDATE: David Brooks Held Hostage -- Day 11

Magazine article Editor & Publisher

UPDATE: David Brooks Held Hostage -- Day 11

Article excerpt

More than eleven days have now passed since New York Times columnist David Brooks admitted at a Manhattan forum that Sarah Palin was not qualified for higher office -- "not even close" -- and is a "cancer" on his favorite party, the GOP. Yet he has still not shared this view with readers of the Times (let alone suggested that this is a fatal blemish on his opinion of John McCain).

He has written two columns since then -- the latest today -- which failed to reveal/confirm his "not even close" opinion of Palin. Today's column didn't mention her at all. Last Friday he wrote nothing more negative than: "Palin is smart, politically skilled, courageous and likable. Her convention and debate performances were impressive. But no American politician plays the class-warfare card as constantly as Palin."

After the "not even close" comment broke, I wrote about this here, labeling Brooks, at the minimum, "frighteningly dishonest." Some of his friends in the media have tried to deflect attention from his "not even close" statement by focusing on the far less significant "cancer" aspect and the fact that he has criticized Palin to some extent in print (while also, for example, declaring that she "established debating parity with Joe Biden). Brooks has also mocked what he called the "smug condescension that has so marked the reaction to the Palin nomination in the first place."

Yet many of Brooks colleagues on the right have had no trouble frankly labeling Palin unqualified. The list includes everyone from David Frum to Christopher Buckley. Some have cited this in stating they can no longer support McCain.

Just today, Matthew Dowd, the key Bush strategist in 2004, jumped on the anti-Palin bandwagon, stating flatly that she is not at all qualified for higher office, and suggested that McCain, no doubt, will regret the Palin pick after the results in November arrive.

Myself, I am tempted to label the Brooks-Palin team "Brooks and Dumb." Or is that Brooks and Kristol?

Here's what I wrote more than a week ago:

* Love her or hate her, you have to admit, at least Sarah Palin tells us what she really feels. In contrast, David Brooks' dishonesty is frightening.

Last Friday for The New York Times, following the vice-presidential debate, Brooks wrote of Palin, "She established debating parity with Joe Biden ... By the end of the debate, most Republicans were not crouching behind the couch, but standing on it. The race has not been transformed, but few could have expected as vibrant and tactically clever a performance as the one Sarah Palin turned in Thursday night."

Forget, for the moment, this epic lapse of judgment -- every poll showed that viewers actually gave Biden an easy win. Flash forward three days later. Interviewed at a New York City event unveiling the new design for The Atlantic, Brooks suddenly admitted, speaking of Palin, that she was not "not even close" to being ready to be vice president.

He also declared her a "fatal cancer" on the same party whose members, he'd just revealed, were standing on that couch after the debate. Shouldn't he have warned them?

It may or may not surprise you to learn that Brooks has not written a word about why the selection of someone "not even close" to be being qualified for vice president by a 72-year-old cancer survivor might disqualify John McCain from Brooks' consideration for his support. …

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