photo: de Fano
In preparing to respond to David Brooks' op-ed piece on capitalism in my
The focus and tone of the two pieces I do have access to are substantively different, as befits the different titles. The "debate" column is a vehicle for Brooks to attack in a very personal way what he, predictably, perceives as Obama's hypocrisy in portraying Romney as the "embodiment" of "modern capitalism as it now exists."
In Brooks' view, Obama's position is a cynical strategy to divert attention from his own failures in office. Romney's strategy should be to embrace his talent as an efficiency expert with the ability to be the "corporate version of a personal trainer" for the nation.
Overall, the Debate op-ed is a personal and vitriolic screed on the character and integrity of Barack Obama.
The other column, More Capitalism, Please, has an entirely different perspective. And tone. Gone is the excessive personal attack on the President. Brooks' premise is a more nuanced assertion that that people are wrong to condemn modern capitalism, which in fact is chock full of redeeming social value, a crescendo of positive consequences culminating in the observation that "global hiring has been fantastic for the world's poor." The pivotal assertion in the piece,(and of course absent from the alternate "version") states the theme clearly, "that all postwar presidents have embraced the general logic of globalization, that American companies should take advantage of foreign opportunities to make themselves more productive." As befits his Republican perspective, Brooks' eyes glaze over the reality that the "foreign opportunities" he's talking about include the "opportunity" to profit from the labor of human beings working obscene hours, for starvation wages in execrable conditions.
None of this answers the question of why the august grey lady would publish the two op-ed pieces as if they were the same. I've counted on the Times throughout my life for integrity, and some class, in choosing what it decides to print. I would hate to think that it is currently inclined, clandestinely, to provide "red meat" for its Wall Street readers and more temperate fare for its