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David Brooks Tries To Be Too Evenhanded

[Guest post by Isaac Chotiner]

I am a little late coming to this, but yesterday's David Brooks column, which discussed our ability (or inability) to (in Orwell's words) face unpleasant facts, included the following:

The ensuing mental flabbiness is most evident in politics. Many conservatives declare that Barack Obama is a Muslim because it feels so good to say so. Many liberals would never ask themselves why they were so wrong about the surge in Iraq while George Bush was so right. The question is too uncomfortable.

Is Brooks really comparing these two things? A huge percentage of Republicans think that Barack Obama is a Muslim. A huge percentage of Democrats (presumably) think they were right to oppose the surge. In other words, a lot of Republicans have a bizarre, often bigoted, and undeniably wrong opinion on a very simple topic. A lot of Democrats think that a hugely complex, somewhat successful, and still inconclusive policy was right to be opposed. (Let's ignore the question of whether it was smart to oppose the surge based on the evidence people had at the time.)

For a slightly harsher analysis of the paranoia that seems to be infecting Republicans lately, readers would be better served by Brooks' online chat with Gail Collins, in which the former describes some charming experiences he has had interacting with Montana voters this summer.