New York Times State of Mind
The American political system is based on a useful falsehood. It’s based on the falsehood that David Brooks is an intelligent, thoughtful man who represents the right wing, or conservative point of view when writing. It is a falsehood borne of the idea that an intelligent man, without political aspirations or social obligations, can put aside his social caste and come up with a reasonably cogent argument why a biased mind should be granted a seat on our highest court. In an editorial in Tuesday’s StarTribune carried from the New Obama Times, he attempts to defend Sotomayor by making rule of law seem, well quaint.
David Brooks has opined that our grasp on reality is tenuous. We are nothing but a corporal body of fleeting and twirling emotions that are unable to grasp even the briefest glimpse of the law or the truth. He doesn’t believe in the law, per se. He believes the law is a chimera created out of thin air by hackneyed ideologues hell-bent on deceiving us. He believes ‘it is incoherent to say that a judge should base an opinion on reason’ because he can find no reason in his own thinking. Everything and everyone, to Brooks, is but a dream.
Brooks asserts, we are all just a bunch of ‘emotional intuitionists’ grasping about in the world like we are blind and deaf to all logic and instead react knee-jerk to ideas from a romantic notion we have in our heads. These notions, models he calls them, are the apparatus that makes the world work. We are unable to identify any differences that may occur that would fly in the face of those notions. They are timeless and unbending. He believes we are just machines that operate unthinkingly, without questioning or ability to use that imaginary system we call reason. Every one should understand this world is not real. It is just an illusion.
David Brooks continues with how his mind works and therefore how all our minds work. “The mind tries on different solutions to see if they fit. Then – often while you’re in the shower or after a night’s sleep – the answer comes to you.” Truth, to David Brooks, is a random series of a collection of fleeting thoughts and emotions roiling around in one’s mind. Like Berkeley, the truth is a reflection of the mind and not a solution or application of law or precedents.
Once David Brooks smashes this illusion that reality is, well, real, he goes on to defend the target of this column. “Sonia Sotomayor will be a good justice if she can empathize with the many types of people and actions involved in a case, but a bad type if she can only empathize with one type, one ethnic group or one social class.” Here is where the great David Brooks flails with the monster that is the justice system and loses. It is here where his lazy thinking and impetus defense of the nominee is lost.
A finder of law must empathize with ALL types of people in so much as they don’t see color or gender or national origin as having ANY bearing on the case. The eyes should not deceive. The case, whatever case in question, should not hinge on the vagaries of class at all. The reason we have statues of justice wearing a blindfold is because the color or gender or national origin of the litigants should never be a factor. The ideas involved in the case need to be weighed, not the classes. The all-knowing David Brooks has created a philosophical nihilist model and then peopled it with a bunch of mental robots that react in predicable ways according to race, color, sex, and national origin. He has, in fact, exposed himself as a believer in chauvinism as a finder of law.
He continues with a bunch of claptrap about ‘love of institution’ as a defense for her. If you love the law, you will respect it. Please. That is the thinking of an elitist that believes if you follow a code of conduct, like chivalry, you will arrive at the truth. Only the elect need apply. Then, he continues that if she understands her murky, flawed mind, she will adapt to it. After all, if you understand nothing is real, then your decision making process will be freed. If nothing really matters, then we are free to fly, or some other such nonsense.
Finally, David Brooks, speaker of the truth, concludes with evoking the ancients to buttress his meandering nihilism. He calls on Burke and Hayek to endorse his new emotionalism as justice. From the far grave, these philosophers will rise up and give evidence in support of his shifting shadows theory. ‘They argued as such, so my argument has merit’, he begs. Such is the fatal apologia for a biased mind. To defend the lady’s honor, he has shifted our rule of law into the rule of emotion. To support her nomination, he is willing to abase our legal philosophy into a morass of shifting sands. Bravo, David Brooks, Bravo.