David Brooks! You can now expect your invitations to trendy Manhattan and Georgetown parties to not so mysteriously dry up. Your crime? Despite being one of the most prominent Never Trumpers out there, you actually (GASP!) dared to praise President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. Such a Thought Crime must be punished with a public shunning.
Yes, despite his previous record as an Antifa Ninja Play Warrior of The Resistance which began on the heels of the 2016 election, Brooks has come around to grudging support for Trump’s foreign policy in his May 10 New York Times column, Donald Trump’s Lizard Wisdom [emphasis mine]:
We’re all educated by our peers, and, over the years, a good portion of Donald Trump’s peers have been thugs. Operating in the New York construction world meant dealing with S&A Concrete, co-owned by “Fat Tony” Salerno of the Genovese crime family, and John Cody, the notorious head of Teamsters Local 282, who was convicted on racketeering and tax evasion charges.
The next few paragraphs continued with this theme of Trump as coming from a “thug” background. Think of them as necessary caveats before his big shocking reveal [again, emphasis mine]:
And yet I can’t help but wonder if that kind of background has provided a decent education for dealing with the sort of hopped-up mobsters running parts of the world today. There is growing reason to believe that Donald Trump understands the thug mind a whole lot better than the people who attended our prestigious Foreign Service academies.
The first piece of evidence is North Korea. When Trump was trading crude, back-alley swipes with “Little Rocket Man,” Kim Jong-un, about whose nuclear button was bigger, it sounded as if we were heading for a nuclear holocaust led by a pair of overgrown prepubescents.
In fact, Trump’s bellicosity seems to have worked. It’s impossible to know how things will pan out, but the situation with North Korea today is a lot better than it was six months ago. Hostages are being released, talks are being held. There seems to be a chance for progress unfelt in years.
Maybe Trump intuited something about the sorts of people who run the North Korean regime that others missed.
Oh, no! David will definitely have to explain himself when he’s cornered at his next dinner party in the Swamp:
The second piece of evidence is our trade talks with China. Over the past few decades, the Western diplomatic community made a big bet: If we all behaved decently toward Chinese leaders, then they’d naturally come to embrace liberal economic and cultural values and we could all eventually share a pinot at the University Club.
The bet went wrong. Today’s Chinese elites are polite and coolheaded, but their economic, political and military behavior remains pure thug. Beijing throws its economic weight around with abandon, punishing foreign firms like Mercedes-Benz that don’t toe its line, cutting off Philippine trade over dubious geographic disputes, closing off its own economy to foreign investment and stealing hundreds of billions of dollars in American intellectual property each year.
The president has pushed back harder on the Chinese and has netted some results. After some Trump swagger, Xi Jinping promised to “significantly lower” Chinese tariffs on imported vehicles.
David Brooks, welcome to your new lavatory office at The New York Times:
The third piece of evidence is Iran. I have doubts about the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the nuke agreement. But I do know that the argument that many of the Obama people relied on as predicate for the deal is wrong. They argued that, deep down, the Iranian leaders are worldly sophisticates who, if we just gave them the welcome mat, would want to join our community of nations.
This is the vanity of the educated class going back for centuries. Since we’re obviously so superior, everybody else secretly wants to be like us. It’s wrong. Thugs gotta thug. Religious fanatics gotta fanaticize.
And finally the necessary disclaimer that is doomed to fail in getting Brooks back into the good graces of liberals:
Please don’t take this as an endorsement of the Trump foreign policy. I’d feel a lot better if Trump showed some awareness of the complexity of the systems he’s disrupting, and the possibly cataclysmic unintended consequences. But there is some lizard wisdom here. The world is a lot more like the Atlantic City real estate market than the G.R.E.s.