Well, now I’m confused. It turns out that the historicity of the Bush years can be reasonably called into question.
Of course as every high-school student knows, almost all of the original digital and analog records of the Guild of Pundits during that period were destroyed during the Great Discontinuity — the early 21st century’s Elite media’s last ditch effort to evade accountability for their crimes. And what few fragments we do have from that time come down to us filtered through the fun-house mirrors of surviving backups of the “fuckingblogs”.
In particular, one figure stands out as implausible: David Brooks.
And as the original events have been sifted and re-sifted by popular culture, fan fiction and hermeneutics, the academic world has more-or-less evenly divided itself into two, irreconcilable orthodoxies — the Historical Brooks versus the Fictional Brooks — each of which finds strong support for its own theory in the literature itself.
Based on the radically divergent accounts of writings attributed to him during a single decade, roughly half of all professional media historians — The Historicals — subscribe to theory that “David Brooks” in an amalgamation of several real but wildly different people. The other half — The Fictionals — maintain that since so much of what he was alleged to have written was so obviously false and absurd, “David Brooks” had to be a literary contrivance: something analogous to Poe’s nameless recounter of “The Telltale Heart” or Greta Van Sustern — a fictional narrator whose own pathological unreliability is integral to the story.
Both sides have good arguments.
Obviously, (the Historicals conclude) like “Alan Smithee” or “Tom Freed Man”, “David Brooks” must have been some sort of collective pen-name behind which dregs of the Punditry Guild could shout all kinds of shameful craziness while avoiding the professional consequences of saying remarkably stupid thing in public.
But (the Fictionals rejoin very effectively) it is the very ludicrousness of “David Brooks”‘s “opinions” which argue most strongly against it being the name — or pseudonym — of any real person or persons. Consider that, in order to make the argument that the United States government is incapable of competently operating a national health-care system with mandates, “David Brooks” simply ignores the fact that the United States government of that era was already operating a very efficient and beloved national health-care system (with mandates!) which was known as Medicare and, at the time, had over 49 million beneficiaries.
I don’t know how to decide. This might help: a fellow atheist and trained historian, Eddie Marcus, contacted me and offered to explain how historians make decisions about the historicity of a different weird, unbelievable person, Jesus. I’m willing to listen — it might help me make up my mind about this bizarre “David Brooks” character — so we’re doing a hangout on Wednesday at 7am Central time, or 8pm Perth time (the hour is a compromise to find a reasonable time when both of us are awake). I’d say “Join us”, but I think that’s only going to reasonably apply to Australians and Asians. So, “Join us, Australians! Half of us will be speaking English properly!” The rest of you can tune in after it’s all over.