I read David Brooks’s column in my local paper, the Wisconsin State Journal, but I was introduced to him as a Friday commentator on Newshour with Jim Lehrer on public TV. I think my basic affinity for his thinking stems from the fact that he graduated from the University of Chicago (’83), and worked as a police reporter in the Windy City (my birthplace). I wasn’t a police reporter in such a glamorous place (Waukesha County, Wis.) but I know the beat and have a Midwest education (Univ. of Wisconsin-Milwaukee).
Brooks has been appearing on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times since September 2003. He was op-ed editor at the Wall Street Journal in the ’90s, and does stuff from the Weekly Standard, whatever that is.
So on the News Hour, Brooks plays the conservative, always paired with a pundit from the Left. So he’s often cast as a Republican apologist, but to me his thinking goes much deeper than that. For example:
“What shapes moral emotions in the first place? The answer has long been evolution, but in recent years there’s an increasing appreciation that evolution isn’t just about competition. It’s also about cooperation within groups. Like bees, humans have long lived or died based on their ability to divide labor, help each other and stand together in the face of common threats. Many of our moral emotions and intuitions reflect that history. We don’t just care about our individual rights, or even the rights of other individuals. We also care about loyalty, respect, traditions, religions. We are all the descendents of successful cooperators.” [More of this column here.]
PICTURE OF THE DAY