Sincerity: David Brooks as Concern Troll

It's always nice when David Brooks takes time to offer advice to Democrats, It always seem so . . . sincere. Brooks writes that if either Clinton or Obama are elected president, "the left" will demand a quick withdrawal from Iraq, leaving either candidate to face ". . . irate opposition from important sections of the military, who would feel that the U.S. was squandering the gains of the previous year. A Democratic president with few military credentials would confront outraged and highly photogenic colonels screaming betrayal." They would be screaming betrayal, all right, their own. What ever happend to all that smarmy faux-patriotic crap from the right about the proper role of the Commander in Chief? And what about the long and honorable tradition of civilian leadership of the military? So if those photogenic colonels go on Fox News or PBS, whoever is president should simply fire them or reassign them to Fort Bumfuck for the rest of their careers. Clearly, though, Brooks & other right-wing hacks are already setting the narrative for the Republicans' loss of the presidency & the attacks Democratic administration. Brooks shows not a shred of regret not a fiber of shame that the next administration will be hemmed in by the consequences of acts perpetrated by the worst, most malignant administration in American history. Whichever Democrat occupies the White House next year, they had better sit the Republican leadership down on the day after the inauguration & give them a choice between playing nice & getting ripped to pieces every day for their malfeasance.  I voted for Obama, but HRC might be better at this that my candidate, who I fear still believes it is possible to reason with the right wing. On the other hand, given the enthusiasm  of his supporters, Obama might win by a large enough margin to claim something like a mandate & then be able to use that to beat the Republicans with not only their failure to govern but their failure to let anyone govern.

Author: jd

Joseph Duemer is Professor of Literature Emeritus at Clarkson University in northern New York state. His most recent book of poems is Magical Thinking from Ohio State University Press. Since the mid-1990s he has spent a good deal of time in Vietnam, mostly Hanoi. He lives with his wife Carole & five terriers (four Jack Russells & one Patterdale) on the stony bank of the Raquette River in South Colton.

7 thoughts on “Sincerity: David Brooks as Concern Troll”

  1. you may be dating yourself with the use of ‘troll’ (though i remember your use of troll-ing too). next you’ll be calling someone ‘douchebag’, both terms, i note, from the late 1970’s and 1980’s, used so often by a dearly-remembered friend michael dunham now dead probably a decade and a half of a stroke. now i have entered into my troll-dom years (as troll was a putdown of older gays seen by many young gays as (ineffectual) predators and i always hoped i wouldn’t fit michael’s douchebag designation either). all such terms while colorful often reflect the moods of the speakers using them. so i can see you are spitting mad. well get cold angry not hot mad & don’t have a stroke. this is a caution i must use on myself. and i suppose it tells more about me than i understand. or might ever understand. ed

  2. Ed, on internet discussion boards, a troll is specifically someone who posts comments that are designed to cause anger & dissension. A concern-troll is someone who does same while pretending to be “concerned” for the presentation of the issue at hand. I wasn’t even aware of the older meaning, though I am old enough that I ought to.

  3. well, here i am trying to catch-up again. be always surprised should be my motto. i may think i know what i’m talking about but not what the other guy’s saying.

    i even have the barron’s DICTIONARY OF COMPUTER AND INTERNET TERMS,8th ed,2003(the small leatherlook one,black,with the rounded corners)that has the definition you use, but it never occured to me to look–(but doesn’t have the “concern-troll” term listed yet,in 2003).

    (remember how it was a zillion times repeated that the difference between yanks & brits was the so- called common language? now it’s between the new guys on the block and those in their recliners.)

    thanks for the needed instruction. it is in a way delightful to be the new kid on the block needing instruction.

    edward mycue

  4. “Troll” reminds me once in San Francisco in the early 90s I was having a conversation with a woman who was a Gurdjieffian, {a bygone cult}), and she said to me, “Are you a contrarian!!???”

    Over use of the world troll on the internet really promises to make the internet a cyberspace version of the old cult era, when anyone approaching the cult subculture with any sort of process of thought would get a label like “contrarian”. In other words, “troll”, is just another avenue for affirming empty discourse, rather than the kind of discourse that leads to the synthesis of ideas.

  5. Albert, I’m not sure what you mean. If you have spent any time reading political discussion on the web, you will recognize that there are people who post merely to cause dissension. I’m not talking about taking contrary positions or engaging in reasoned argument here, but about rhetorical dishonesty & boorishness. I’m arguing that the NT Times columnist David Brooks is arguing dishonestly by being disingenuous, i.e., behaving like a “concern troll” on an internet discussion board.

  6. Yeah, I went off on a tangent (Not a good social habit of mine) about the cyberspace idea. But I know you’re making a great analogy about Brooks. I agree with everything you say here.

    I’m worried though that they’ll manage to get McCain in office. When Gore ran through most of his campaign it looked like he would win. And near the end of the ’04 campaign it looked Kerry would win. I can’t approach this with any confidence the Democratic candidate will win, regardless of whether it’s Obama or Clinton. And McPain’s got his huge war lust that makes Bush look like a meditating Buddhist.

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