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David Brooks (journalist)

David Brooks (journalist)

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David Brooks is a Canadian-born political and cultural commentator who considers himself a moderate and writes for the New York Times. He worked as an editorial writer and film reviewer for the Washington Times ; a reporter and later op-ed editor for The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal
The Wall Street Journal is an American English-language international daily newspaper. It is published in New York City by Dow Jones & Company, a division of News Corporation, along with the Asian and European editions of the Journal....

; a senior editor at The Weekly Standard
The Weekly Standard
The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation, debuted the title September 18, 1995. Currently edited by founder William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a "redoubt of...

from its inception; a contributing editor at Newsweek
Newsweek
Newsweek is an American weekly news magazine published in New York City. It is distributed throughout the United States and internationally. It is the second-largest news weekly magazine in the U.S., having trailed Time in circulation and advertising revenue for most of its existence...

and The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic Monthly
The Atlantic is an American magazine founded in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1857. It was created as a literary and cultural commentary magazine. It quickly achieved a national reputation, which it held for more than a century. It was important for recognizing and publishing new writers and poets,...

; and as a commentator on National Public Radio. He is now a columnist for The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

and commentator on PBS NewsHour.

Background


Brooks was born into a Jewish family in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and grew up in New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 in Stuyvesant Town
Stuyvesant Town
Stuyvesant Town—Peter Cooper Village is a large private residential development on the East Side of the borough of Manhattan in New York City, and one of the most iconic and successful post-World War II private housing communities...

. He graduated from Radnor High School
Radnor High School
Radnor High School is the only public high school in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania and is part of the Radnor Township School District. It lies along the Pennsylvania Main Line, a collection of highly affluent Philadelphia suburbs...

 (located in a Main Line suburb of Philadelphia) in 1979. He graduated from the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

 in 1983 with a degree in history
History
History is the discovery, collection, organization, and presentation of information about past events. History can also mean the period of time after writing was invented. Scholars who write about history are called historians...

.

Brooks edited an anthology of writings by new conservative writers, "Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing", published in 1996. He wrote a book of cultural commentary titled Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There
Bobos in Paradise
Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There is a book by David Brooks, first published in 2000. The word bobo, Brooks's most famous coinage, is a portmanteau of the words bourgeois and bohemian. The term is used by Brooks to describe the 1990s descendants of the yuppies...

, published in 2000, and followed it four years later with On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense.

He also authored "The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character and Achievement"
The Social Animal (David Brooks book)
The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement is a non-fiction book by American journalist David Brooks, who is otherwise best known for his career with The New York Times. The book discusses what drives individual behavior and decision making...

, published by Random House in March 2011. The book was excerpted in The New Yorker magazine in January, 2011, and received mixed reviews upon full publication. The book has been a commercial success, reaching the #3 spot on the Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly
Publishers Weekly, aka PW, is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents...

best-sellers list for non-fiction in April 2011.

Brooks was a visiting professor of public policy at Duke University
Duke University
Duke University is a private research university located in Durham, North Carolina, United States. Founded by Methodists and Quakers in the present day town of Trinity in 1838, the school moved to Durham in 1892. In 1924, tobacco industrialist James B...

's Terry Sanford Institute of Public Policy, and he taught an undergraduate seminar there in the fall of 2006.

He and his wife live in Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda, Maryland
Bethesda is a census designated place in southern Montgomery County, Maryland, United States, just northwest of Washington, D.C. It takes its name from a local church, the Bethesda Meeting House , which in turn took its name from Jerusalem's Pool of Bethesda...

.

Political views



Brooks describes himself as being originally a liberal
Modern American liberalism
Modern American liberalism is a form of liberalism developed from progressive ideals such as Theodore Roosevelt's New Nationalism, Woodrow Wilson's New Freedom, Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal, John F. Kennedy's New Frontier, and Lyndon Johnson's Great Society. It combines social liberalism and...

 before "coming to my senses." In 1983, he wrote a parody of conservative pundit William F. Buckley, Jr.
William F. Buckley, Jr.
William Frank Buckley, Jr. was an American conservative author and commentator. He founded the political magazine National Review in 1955, hosted 1,429 episodes of the television show Firing Line from 1966 until 1999, and was a nationally syndicated newspaper columnist. His writing was noted for...

, which said "In the afternoons he is in the habit of going into crowded rooms and making everybody else feel inferior. The evenings are reserved for extended bouts of name-dropping."

Buckley admired the parody and offered Brooks a job with National Review
National Review
National Review is a biweekly magazine founded by the late author William F. Buckley, Jr., in 1955 and based in New York City. It describes itself as "America's most widely read and influential magazine and web site for conservative news, commentary, and opinion."Although the print version of the...

. A turning point in Brooks's thinking came later that year in a televised debate with Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman
Milton Friedman was an American economist, statistician, academic, and author who taught at the University of Chicago for more than three decades...

, which, as Brooks describes it, "was essentially me making a point, and he making a two-sentence rebuttal which totally devastated my point".

Before the 2003 invasion of Iraq
2003 invasion of Iraq
The 2003 invasion of Iraq , was the start of the conflict known as the Iraq War, or Operation Iraqi Freedom, in which a combined force of troops from the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq and toppled the regime of Saddam Hussein in 21 days of major combat operations...

, Brooks argued forcefully for American military intervention, echoing the belief of commentators and political figures that American and British forces would be welcomed as liberators. In the spring of 2004, some of his opinion pieces suggested that he had tempered his earlier optimism about the war.

Brooks' public writing about the U.S. wars in Afghanistan and Iraq is similar to those by neoconservatives, according to a Salon article, that labels Brooks as a neoconservative. His angry dismissal of the conviction of Scooter Libby as being "a farce" and having "no significance" was derided by political blogger and editor Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Sullivan
Andrew Michael Sullivan is an English author, editor, political commentator and blogger. He describes himself as a political conservative. He has focused on American political life....

.

On August 10, 2006, Brooks wrote a column for The New York Times titled "Party No. 3". The column proposed the idea of the McCain-Lieberman Party, or the fictional representation of the moderate majority in America.

Ottawa Citizen
Ottawa Citizen
The Ottawa Citizen is an English-language daily newspaper owned by Postmedia Network in Ottawa, Canada. According to the Canadian Newspaper Association, the paper had a 2008 weekly circulation of 900,197.- History :...

 commentator David Warren has identified Brooks as the sort of conservative pundit that liberals like, someone who is "sophisticated" and "engages with" the liberal agenda, in contrast to a "real conservative" like Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer
Charles Krauthammer, MD is an American Pulitzer Prize–winning syndicated columnist, political commentator, and physician. His weekly column appears in The Washington Post and is syndicated to more than 275 newspapers and media outlets. He is a contributing editor to the Weekly Standard and The New...

. Brooks has long been a supporter of John McCain
John McCain
John Sidney McCain III is the senior United States Senator from Arizona. He was the Republican nominee for president in the 2008 United States election....

; however, he did not show a liking for McCain's former running mate Sarah Palin
Sarah Palin
Sarah Louise Palin is an American politician, commentator and author. As the Republican Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 presidential election, she was the first Alaskan on the national ticket of a major party and first Republican woman nominated for the vice-presidency.She was...

, calling her a "cancer" on the Republican Party. He has referred to her as a "joke," unlikely to ever win the Republican nomination.

In a March 2007 article published in The New York Times titled "No U-Turns", Brooks explains that the Republican Party
Republican Party (United States)
The Republican Party is one of the two major contemporary political parties in the United States, along with the Democratic Party. Founded by anti-slavery expansion activists in 1854, it is often called the GOP . The party's platform generally reflects American conservatism in the U.S...

 must distance itself from the minimal-government conservative principles that had arisen during the Barry Goldwater
Barry Goldwater
Barry Morris Goldwater was a five-term United States Senator from Arizona and the Republican Party's nominee for President in the 1964 election. An articulate and charismatic figure during the first half of the 1960s, he was known as "Mr...

 and Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan
Ronald Wilson Reagan was the 40th President of the United States , the 33rd Governor of California and, prior to that, a radio, film and television actor....

 eras. He claims that these outdated concepts had served their purposes and should no longer be embraced by Republicans in order to win elections.

Brooks has been a frequent admirer of President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

. In an August, 2009 profile of Brooks, The New Republic
The New Republic
The magazine has also published two articles concerning income inequality, largely criticizing conservative economists for their attempts to deny the existence or negative effect increasing income inequality is having on the United States...

describes his first encounter with Obama, in the spring of 2005: "Usually when I talk to senators, while they may know a policy area better than me, they generally don’t know political philosophy better than me. I got the sense he knew both better than me. [...] I remember distinctly an image of--we were sitting on his couches, and I was looking at his pant leg and his perfectly creased pant, and I’m thinking, a) he’s going to be president and b) he’ll be a very good president.” Two days after Obama’s second autobiography, The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope
The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream is the second book written by then-Senator Barack Obama. In the fall of 2006 it became number one on both the New York Times and Amazon.com bestsellers lists after Obama was endorsed by Oprah Winfrey. In the book, Obama expounds on...

, hit bookstores, Brooks published a column in The New York Times, entitled "Run, Barack, Run", urging Obama to run for president.

In writing for The New York Times in January 2010, Brooks described Israel as "an astonishing success story". He wrote that "Jews are a famously accomplished group," who, because they were "forced to give up farming in the Middle Ages... have been living off their wits ever since". In Brooks' view, "Israel’s technological success is the fruition of the Zionist dream. The country was not founded so stray settlers could sit among thousands of angry Palestinians in Hebron
Hebron
Hebron , is located in the southern West Bank, south of Jerusalem. Nestled in the Judean Mountains, it lies 930 meters above sea level. It is the largest city in the West Bank and home to around 165,000 Palestinians, and over 500 Jewish settlers concentrated in and around the old quarter...

. It was founded so Jews would have a safe place to come together and create things for the world."

Social views


Brooks opposes what he sees as self-destructive behavior like teenage sex and divorce
Divorce
Divorce is the final termination of a marital union, canceling the legal duties and responsibilities of marriage and dissolving the bonds of matrimony between the parties...

. His view is that "sex is more explicit everywhere barring real life. As the entertainment media have become more sex-saturated, American teenagers have become more sexually abstemious" by "waiting longer to have sex...[and] having fewer partners." He sees the culture war as nearly over, because "today's young people...seem happy with the frankness of the left and the wholesomeness of the right." As a result, he is optimistic about the United States' social stability, which he considers to be "in the middle of an amazing moment of improvement and repair."

Brooks also broke with many in the conservative movement when, in late 2003, he came out in favor of same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage
Same-sex marriage is marriage between two persons of the same biological sex or social gender. Supporters of legal recognition for same-sex marriage typically refer to such recognition as marriage equality....

 in his New York Times column. He equated the idea with traditional conservative values: "We should insist on gay marriage. We should regard it as scandalous that two people could claim to love each other and not want to sanctify their love with marriage and fidelity.... It's going to be up to conservatives to make the important, moral case for marriage, including gay marriage."

Regarding abortion, Brooks has advocated for pro-choice government regulations: abortion would be legal, with parental consent for minors, during the first four or five months, and illegal except in extremely rare circumstances afterward. (New York Times, April 22, 2002.)

Partial bibliography

  • Editor, Backward and Upward: The New Conservative Writing (Vintage, 1996) 0-6797-6654-5
  • Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There
    Bobos in Paradise
    Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There is a book by David Brooks, first published in 2000. The word bobo, Brooks's most famous coinage, is a portmanteau of the words bourgeois and bohemian. The term is used by Brooks to describe the 1990s descendants of the yuppies...

    (2000) ISBN 0-684-85377-9
  • On Paradise Drive: How We Live Now (And Always Have) in the Future Tense (2004) ISBN 0-7432-2738-7
  • The Social Animal: The Hidden Sources of Love, Character, and Achievement (2011) ISBN 978-1-4000-6760-2

External links

  • "Meet David Brooks" and Column archive at The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

  • http://video.on.nytimes.com/index.jsp?fr_story=cfc87df81f75d643f2ee861d2b9de31a7617b1b7Discussion with Andrew Rosenthal
    Andrew Rosenthal
    Andrew Rosenthal is an American journalist and editorial page editor of The New York Times. Rosenthal is in charge of the paper's opinion pages, both in the newspaper and online. He oversees the editorial board, the Letters and Op-Ed departments, as well as the Editorial and Op-Ed sections of...

    , Frank Rich
    Frank Rich
    Frank Rich is an American essayist and op-ed columnist who wrote for The New York Times from 1980, when he was appointed its chief theatre critic, until 2011...

     and Maureen Dowd
    Maureen Dowd
    Maureen Bridgid Dowd is a Washington D.C.-based columnist for The New York Times and best-selling author. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, she worked for Time magazine and the Washington Star, where she covered news as well as sports and wrote feature articles...

    ], The New York Times
    The New York Times
    The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

    video, July 17, 2006
  • Column archive at The Atlantic
  • Column archive at The Weekly Standard
    The Weekly Standard
    The Weekly Standard is an American neoconservative opinion magazine published 48 times per year. Its founding publisher, News Corporation, debuted the title September 18, 1995. Currently edited by founder William Kristol and Fred Barnes, the Standard has been described as a "redoubt of...

  • David Brooks on The Emily Rooney Show on WGBH Radio