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Twin Brooks.

Thanks to Nicholas Confessore ("Paradise Glossed," June) on David Brooks's "frequently dishonest caricatures" and "unreliable generalizations" While conservatives accuse liberals of starting "class warfare" by merely pointing out disparities in wealth (a classic case of shooting the messenger), Brooks and some of his colleagues on the right came up with their own twisted brand of class warfare, painting liberals as snooty "elitists" and conservatives as salt-of-dm-earth regular folks. And they sometimes bolster their case with assertions that are patently untrue, such as Brooks's statement about "upscale areas everywhere" voting for M Gore and his characterization of the Democrats as the party of aristocrats--as if the Bush family is not an old-money clan.

Trudy Ring

Burbank, Calif.

Confessore is right on the mark and articulates a problem I've had with David Brooks. There are moments in reading him--both in Bobos in Paradise and in his articles (which all made their way into On Paradise Drive)--in which some aspect of American life suddenly becomes crystal clear that you feel like it was always at the tip of your tongue. But the problem arises when this insight leads you to impute to Brooks that sort of acumen in all of his observations. I've reluctantly come to accept that this book is mostly a bunch of specious connections and cutesy epithets.

But Confessore falters when he starts raising specific objections to Brooks's specific stereo/archetypes. He appeals to such a rigorous standard of descriptive accuracy that he undermines his very sharp and insightful overall point--that Brooks wills the world to fit his oh-so bright description of it--by acting like a pedantic teenager scoring points by marking obvious and inevitable exceptions to nonetheless valuable generalizations. An example is Confessore's objection to the line about cars from countries with foreign policies hostile to America. Brooks's line is non-political--the Audis and Volvos (and no American or Japanese cars) are part of a broader raise-en-scene, and the foreign-policy line is simply intended as a roundabout and clever way of describing, accurately, the look and feel of the professional zones; whatever motivated the buyers of these cars is immaterial. A similar critique can be made of Confessore's subsequent parsing.

Sam Parker

via email
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Author:Parker, Sam
Publication:Washington Monthly
Article Type:Letter to the Editor
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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