Eighteen months ago, he wrote a New York Times column headed "Run Barack Run." Today he tells us "How Obama Fell to Earth." Between the two is a sad tale of political puppy love, infatuation and disillusion.
In October 2006, David Brooks swooned over a figure who could "move beyond the political style of the baby boom generation...that is highly moralistic and personal, dividing people between who is good and who is bad...He distrusts righteous anger and zeal. He does not demonize his opponents."
Today an older but wiser Brooks finds that "voters want a president who basically shares their values and life experiences. Fairly or not, they look at symbols like Michael Dukakis in a tank, John Kerry’s windsurfing or John Edwards’s haircut as clues about shared values."
Ah, the broken dreams of idealistic youth! Brooks has gone from sighing that a potential "president who brings a deliberative style to the White House will multiply his knowledge, not divide it" to grumbling over Obama's "grand and cynical promises that are the sign of someone who is thinking more about campaigning than governing."
Sadly, young Brooks is learning that politics makes cynics of us all, particularly someone who in 2000 was burbling that George W. Bush is "deep down, a very nice guy who likes people."
Today, Brooks concludes, "Welcome to 2008. Everybody’s miserable." Especially those of us who fall in and out of love so easily.