David Brooks' Argument In Favor Of Partisan Obstructionism

Here is the argument David Brooks makes in his op-ed, “A Sad Green Story,” in today’s Times: Government legislation to curb global warming, which he supports, has failed because because Al Gore supported it so strongly. It is the “highly partisan former vice president”’s fault, Brooks says, because after Gore’s movie An Inconvenient Truth came out in 2006, and Gore “became the global warming spokesman, no Republican could stand shoulder to shoulder with him and survive. Any slim chance of building a bipartisan national consensus was gone.” It is Gore’s fault, for being so highly partisan earlier in his career, that Republican congressman refuse, on partisan grounds, to support legislation that Gore supports and that David Brooks supports, too. Democrat Gore backed the poor Republicans into a corner by raising awareness of this issue that David Brooks thinks is important, by promoting good, important legislation like a carbon tax that David Brooks wishes had been able to pass. What were the poor Republican congressman supposed to do? Put aside partisan politics and support good important legislation after Gore had been so highly partisan earlier in his career? That would not be fair, Brooks argues, I guess along the lines of, “but he started it.” This is an argument that says that it is okay to block important legislation along partisan lines. It is only reasonable to expect a congressman to put his or her personal political survival over the good of the country. The responsibility for such a decision, for that kind of obstructionism, lies with the history of the person who has gotten out in front and supported good and important legislation. People who David Brooks thinks have tarnished themselves with partisan behavior should not support legislation that David Brooks agrees with. Because God forbid any politician “stand shoulder to shoulder” with someone whom he or she has disagreed with in the past. That is David Brooks’ argument today, and it makes him sad.