I really have no idea whether Matt Taibbi is a positive or a negative on a pragmatic scale of “getting things done.” His overheated rhetoric probably makes more enemies than friends … on the other hand, “overheated rhetoric” in this case often means “funny as shit in a mean-spirited way.” In other words, I love reading Taibbi, enough so that I fear I don’t spend much time worrying about the pragmatic effect of his work. He is reminiscent of Hunter S. Thompson, except Thompson was trying to reinvent journalism more than he was trying to construct political arguments, while Taibbi is a child of that reinvention who likes the dirty work of research (of course, he gets ripped on a regular basis for a supposed lack in his research abilities).
Last month, David Brooks wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times that got a lot of love from Bruce Springsteen fans. Brooks outed himself as a Bruce fanatic, and that’s all most fans needed to hear. Everywhere I turned for a few days after, Bruce fans were linking to the piece. My feeble complaints that Brooks is not someone I agree with on pretty much anything non-Bruce related were inaudible.
So it’s nice to see Matt Taibbi applying his way with words to a description of David Brooks. As is often true with Taibbi, once you get past the rhetoric/funny-as-shit stuff, he has a useful point to make, in this case re: Brooks as an example of “the kind of spineless Beltway geek we always see beating the war drum at times like these.”
But I confess, in what I always call the “if I believed in guilty pleasures, this would be one” mode, that I mostly liked the piece because of its one-sentence opening paragraph:
I’m always afraid to write about David Brooks, because I worry that my attitude toward this guy is colored by certain strong feelings I have about his appearance — he just looks like a professional groveler/ass-kisser, and every time I see him in public I have to fight off visions of him home at night in his Versace jammies, feverishly jacking off with one hand while caressing in the other an official invitation to, say, a White House event, or a Harvard Club luncheon.
Pragmatically useful? I’m sure it isn’t. But I know the next time Taibbi writes, I’ll be reading.