DAVID BROOKS SEES SARAH PALIN AS A ‘CANCER’…. The New York Times’ David Brooks appeared at an event this afternoon week, alongside The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg, and had a few provocative things to say about the presidential race. Specifically, the columnist described Sarah Palin as a “fatal cancer to the Republican Party,” and compared Palin’s anti-intellectualism to the president’s.

“[Palin] represents a fatal cancer to the republican party. When I first started in journalism, I worked at the National Review for Bill Buckley. And Buckley famously said he’d rather be ruled by the first 2,000 names in the Boston phone book than by the Harvard faculty. But he didn’t think those were the only two options. He thought it was important to have people on the conservative side who celebrated ideas, who celebrated learning. And his whole life was based on that, and that was also true for a lot of the other conservatives in the Reagan era. Reagan had an immense faith in the power of ideas. But there has been a counter, more populist tradition, which is not only to scorn liberal ideas but to scorn ideas entirely. And I’m afraid that Sarah Palin has those prejudices. I think President Bush has those prejudices.”

Brooks added that Palin is “absolutely not” ready for national office.

I happen to agree with all of this. My only concern, though, is that it was the same David Brooks who devoted his column just five days ago to praising Sarah Palin, lauding her vacuous debate performance.

With a bemused smile and a never-ending flow of words, she laid out her place on the ticket — as the fearless neighbor for the heartland bemused by the idiocies of Washington. Her perpetual smile served as foil to Biden’s senatorial seriousness. […]

On Thursday night, Palin took her inexperience and made a mansion out of it. From her first “Nice to meet you. May I call you Joe?” she made it abundantly, unstoppably and relentlessly clear that she was not of Washington, did not admire Washington and knew little about Washington. She ran not only against Washington, but the whole East Coast, just to be safe. […]

The race has not been transformed, but few could have expected as vibrant and tactically clever a performance as the one Sarah Palin turned in Thursday night.

Granted, these are not completely contradictory, but on Friday, Brooks saw Palin as a sharp breath of fresh air. On Wednesday Monday, Brooks sees Palin as a “fatal cancer” on the GOP.

How very odd.

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Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.