David Brooks rediscovers his bad habits

It’s been quite a July for David Brooks.

It started with a bang three weeks ago with an important column that received (and deserved) an enormous amount of attention. The New York Times columnist offered a scathing perspective on congressional Republicans’ tactics, and questioned whether GOP officials are even “fit to govern.”

It continued last week, with Brooks, still angry at GOP madness, condemning the party for deliberately ignoring an opportunity to do something meaningful on debt reduction. The columnist was especially critical of the party’s unyielding right wing: “They believe that politics is a cataclysmic struggle. They believe that if they can remain pure in their faith then someday their party will win a total and permanent victory over its foes. They believe they are Gods of the New Dawn.”

I’d actually started to think that Republican extremism had finally pushed Brooks away. He certainly seemed to be disgusted with the party’s radicalism.

Alas, it was a short-lived flirtation with reality. Brooks argued today that the debt-reduction Grand Bargain he wants died, in part because “the president lost his cool.”

[T]here has been an outbreak of sanity since Congress took control [of the search for a solution to the debt-ceiling crisis]…. This should be a humbling moment for the White House, and maybe a learning experience. There are other people who have been around Washington a long time. They know how to play this game.

I don’t know what process Brooks is watching, but it doesn’t bear any resemblance to the real one. It’s not even the process Brooks saw as recently as last week, when he realized GOP insanity was pushing us closer to a catastrophe, before he reverted to form and decided President Obama didn’t negotiate in a way that appealed to Republicans’ sensibilities.

I kind of liked Brooks’ new-found appreciation for reality in recent weeks. It was bound to disappear eventually, but it’s still sad to see it go so quickly.