So When Does Team RINO Start Engaging The Same Self-Criticism That They Expect From Everyone Else?

There’s a whole group of sad sack moderates in the Republican Party who’ve made a name for themselves by trashing conservatives. You know the people I’m talking about: David Frum, David Brooks, Kathleen Parker, Meghan McCain, etc., etc., etc.

Now, we can argue about whether their intentions are good (sometimes), whether their complaints have any merit (sometimes), or whether there’s already more intellectual debate and self-criticism going on in the conservative movement than anywhere else in politics (absolutely).

But, there’s another question that came to mind when I read the latest tedious whinefest from TEAM RINO member, David Brooks,

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.

There’s a seller’s market in ideologies that gives people a chance to feel victimized. There’s a rigidity to political debate. Issues like tax cuts and the size of government, which should be shaped by circumstances (often it’s good to cut taxes; sometimes it’s necessary to raise them), are now treated as inflexible tests of tribal purity.

To use a fancy word, there’s a metacognition deficit. Very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate. A few people I interview do this regularly (in fact, Larry Summers is one). But it is rare. The rigors of combat discourage it.

Of the problems that afflict the country, this is the underlying one.

Know what stuck out about that to me? The self-satisfied, misguided “above it all” tone of the piece. Yes, Brooks is correct that, “very few in public life habitually step back and think about the weakness in their own thinking and what they should do to compensate.” However, I can’t help but notice that he seems to be exempting himself and other people who think like he does from that criticism. Yet, David Brooks in his own mentally flabby way, is every bit as rigid in his thinking as the hardcore activists he scorns. The little tribe that Brooks belongs to, Team RINO, has its own “tribal purity tests” and its own weaknesses in thinking that are habitually brushed aside as easily as those on the Left and Right.

So, here’s the question: When do people like David Brooks start asking themselves some tough questions? When do they engage in some self-criticism? When do they consider the possibility that maybe the principled people with the fire in their bellies have it right? When do they consider the possibility that their smug attitudes, upturned noses, and lukewarm politics represent exactly the sort of epistemic closure that they like to complain about?

If Brooks genuinely considered questions like those in print, it might lead to his first worthwhile column in years.

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