A year ago I called the head of a prominent liberal think tank to ask him who his favorite philosopher was. If I’d asked about health care, he could have given me four hours of brilliant conversation, but on this subject he stumbled and said he’d call me back. He never did.
Let me say up front that I think the question is pretty obnoxious no matter who’s asking it, and says more about the self-satisfied upper class elitism of the questioner than anything else. Nonetheless, it’s bizarre for David Brooks to bring this one up as a way of whacking liberals over the head, given that the most famous answer to that question in modern times was George W. Bush’s faltering “Jesus, because he changed my life” bit and that’s certainly the first thing that will spring to mind for 99% of people reading the column. Everybody misses the obvious now and again, but Brooks is really in a class of his own when it comes to this sort of cluelessness. And every column he writes, he just seems to dig himself in a little bit deeper.
(Semi-related note: like a lot of Bushisms, that answer is best described by a British term I ran across recently it’s “dog whistle politics”, meaning that it sends out a signal that’s only intended to be heard by a certain segment of the audience.)
Also: I don’t know enough about Brooks’ history to know if this is a standard part of his bio, but in the same column, he mentions in an offhand way:
If I were a liberal, which I used to be…
…which explains a lot: he’s a Yoosta Bee. (Though unlike most Yoosta Bees, he freely acknowledges that he is, in fact, a partisan Republican give him that much…)