Brooks’ last column in the Times gained a fair bit of criticism from smart bloggers on the left. Apparently the WH too was not entirely happy with the conclusions and framing of the column and so they got in touch with the fellow. I’ll quote the first and the last paragraphs of the piece here. As you’ll see, the final graf shows Brooks, though he holds a number of political ideas which I do not share, to be that rare species of modern American conservative who is not tied to an unyielding and narrow ideology nor to a knee-jerk partisan stance.
On Tuesday, I wrote that the Obama budget is a liberal, big government document that should make moderates nervous. The column generated a large positive response from moderate Obama supporters who are anxious about where the administration is headed. It was not so popular inside the White House. Within a day, I had conversations with four senior members of the administration and in the interest of fairness, I thought I’d share their arguments with you today.
And then, finally:
Nonetheless, the White House made a case that was sophisticated and fact-based. These people know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation. I’m more optimistic that if Senate moderates can get their act together and come up with their own proactive plan, they can help shape a budget that allays their anxieties while meeting the president’s goals.
Clearly, the tone and presentation by whomever he talked with in the WH was careful and non-confrontational as well. Still, I expect that’s been the case with this WH in most of its communications with Republicans/conservatives but the sort of response we see from Brooks here hasn’t been the rule. A tip of the hat is definitely due. We’d wish that many more conservatives were Brooks’ sort.
But the title of the piece is problematic – “When Obamatons Respond”. Did Brooks write this? An editor? And why? Unless it is intended as irony (they are not automatons, as the silly side of the party tries to suggest). Otherwise, that title seems totally out of place here.
(The full column is here )