The Corner

Reading David Brooks (and Anne Applebaum)


[I]n the past few days I feel I’ve been overwhelmed by a tsunami of commentary, all of which purports to prove the fundamental nastiness of Barack Obama or, alternatively, the deep unlikability of John McCain. You thought our presidential candidates were nice guys, regular guys, guys who you’d like to sit down and have a beer with? Guess what, lots of people are now telling me: They aren’t!

Thus David Brooks of the New York Times has contrasted the warm-and-fuzzy Obama on our television screens with “Fast Eddie Obama, the promise-breaking, tough-minded Chicago pol who’d throw you under the truck for votes.” . . .

The reader is meant to be shocked, shocked, that these two men . . . are not, in fact, very nice people at all!

Applebaum goes on to conclude that nice guys cannot win the presidency in the modern age. Fine. But, umm, isn’t that sort of what Brooks said? He ended his column by suggesting that Obama’s un-nice qualities might help him be an effective president.

Ramesh Ponnuru is a senior editor for National Review, a columnist for Bloomberg Opinion, a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and a senior fellow at the National Review Institute.


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