David Brooks reminds us America is broken—with considerable help from well intended but wrong thinking Democrats and occasionally from well intentioned but misguided Republicans. The signs, he says, are now set in stone. The country lost its way, its character tarnished, its politics counting its tossings, its democratic principles on the slag heap—whether too many taxes or too little common good, or too large a gap in income and ethics that result from historical missteps. In the days of the empire, such a rhetorical construction (columnists don’t really write from their heads; they fill in frames (some argue holes!)) was called a conceit. It was used to weave complex themes in surprisingly ways to inspire. Surprisingly, David uses it to deconstruct. We are falling, not soaring. But continually, I think, he avoids the real causes of decline and the evidence that matters.
Stone, however important to pride, is not flesh or bone and King’s monument is only relevant if we remember his message. We are not ruled by Pharaohs, who need grander tombs to recall the dust of greatness, but a way to reach greatness on our terms, in our times. So David, carpe diem!
Remember that Eisenhower kept a portrait of Gen. Robert E. Lee in his office. When asked, Ike always replied Lee embodied the honor of a leader and the fidelity of duty. Not lemmings, fodder, or blind sheep, or allegiance to superiors (or traitors!), but men and women who know and share the same honor and fidelity make the best followers.
~David Brooks is basically complaining that we’re not ruled by Pharaohs, openly bemoaning our aspirations that we should have individual rights, which he calls each person thinking that he’s a “king”, presumably instead of just having a king to follow.
~Brooks uses the word “follow” and “follower” throughout this piece, as well as the word “authority” nine times, longingly, in the course of one short column.
~There are many words that could be written about the bizarre take on American history here by Brooks. The notion that someone like George Washington could be seen as some sort of symbol of kingly authority, rather than a symbol of those who opposed exactly that, is only one of the most ludicrous ideas that David Brooks tries to peddle in this collection of authoritarian-boosting, right-wing absurdities.
Lee was a great general. He was also a traitor and a victim of his own hubris. Witness his actions on July 3, 1863.