Frank Bruni, a flailing man who casts about aimlessly for newspaper column ideas in the manner of a blind koala bear slowly waving its paws in hopes of grasping a eucalyptus leaf, is the answer to the question: Can someone without any actual thoughts or ideas still become a prominent New York Times political columnist? Sadly, yes.
“The Center Is Sexier Than You Think” is the unfortunate headline of Bruni’s column today—unfortunate for many reasons, one of which is its juxtaposition with a prominent quote from a man saying “The real story out of these Democratic primaries isn’t left or right — it’s women.” Okay. What is Frank Bruni’s, uhhhh... thesis?
Enough about the Freedom Caucus. Enough about the Democratic Socialists of America. They’re flamboyant players in our political debate, but they’re extremes: More politicians — and most Americans — occupy the expansive territory in between. That’s where the pivotal races in 2018 are being fought. And if Democrats take back the House, it’s where any legislation with a prayer of getting through Congress will be hammered out.
Wow—I am already FUCKING asleep, Frank Bruni. Please do “How a Bill Becomes a Law” for your next column.
Imagine, if you will, working for decades at the most prestigious institution in American journalism, being rewarded at last with a plum gig as an op-ed columnist, which grants you an unparalleled platform to put forth bold ideas that will be scrutinized by the most powerful people in the nation, and then, summoning all of your journalism experience and deep knowledge about political economy, crafting this paragraph to capture the hearts and minds of your readers:
That assessment dovetailed with a status report on the midterms that NPR published on its website last week. “In interviews with more than a dozen Democrats running in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Texas, California, Nebraska and Washington State,” it said, “NPR found that pragmatism is winning out over progressivism in the key races that will decide control of Congress.”
Why read a story on NPR’s website when you can just wait a week and read a boring sentence from it quoted in full in a Frank Bruni column? This is why the man is paid “the big bucks.”
What is the passionate belief of Frank Bruni?
“No one runs to the Mall in Washington with a sign that says, ‘Work Together,’” said Representative Josh Gottheimer, a first-term New Jersey Democrat who wrested his seat from a Republican in 2016. “It’s not what’s talked about on cable TV and tweeted about.” But, he added, it’s where the real action is.
“You have to win in Conor Lamb’s district,” he stressed. When Lamb, a Pennsylvania Democrat, triumphed in a special election there last March, snatching a seat that had been in Republican hands, he did so with a moderate aura and an opposition to single-payer health care.
The important thing is Working Together, and if that means opposing the policies that would actually help people, well, that is just The Mature Thing To Do, in order to maintain your Moderate Aura, which is the aura that attracts Frank Bruni in the same way that I am attracted to the scent of an airport Cinnabon outlet.
The idea that the Democratic Party’s energy and future are concentrated on the left comes partly from the early jockeying in the 2020 presidential race. Potential candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Kirsten Gillibrand are wagering that progressives will have a significant say in who gets the Democratic nomination and advancing measures like Medicare for All and the abolition of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. But it’s doubtful that either of those reforms would garner majority support in a House controlled by Democrats, a crucial contingent of whom would be more like Lamb than like Ocasio-Cortez.
Caring about things? Having beliefs? Constructing a political philosophy based on your personal morality and then adhering to it in the face of opposition? Boring. Why would you ever think that the “energy” on the left comes from, for example, genuine conviction, when you could instead explain it with a pedestrian kindergarten-level analysis of the latest electoral polls? Learn from a pro! (The pro is Frank Bruni. Sorry.)
Next week: Frank Bruni meets Susan Collins and Joe Manchin at Olive Garden for a meal of plain pasta and bread. Mmmmmmmmmoderate!