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Today in Fappery: David Brooks on ‘Burkean Minimalist’ John Roberts

American GreatnessCentrist yuppies can barely handle themselves now, after seeing the Great Man himself, Chief Justice John Roberts, save Obamacare from judicial overreach in a statesmanlike move to protect his Court’s honor. It is stunning how much credit a Republican can get for not doing something 100% insane, just once, over the course of a lifetime. And blessed be the gods, Roberts ruling happened to coincide with a David Brooks appearance at the Aspen Ideas Festival — the single most faux-intellectual experience for yuppie weenies that exists in our time. How did Brooks manage to blow John Roberts all the way from Aspen, Colorado? He didn’t invoke Edmund Burke somehow, did he? Oh, God.

The Atlantic Wire’s John Hudson, who knows a good comedy opportunity when he sees one, caught up with Brooks yesterday at the fancy TED-talk-like wankerfest, where this year’s Big Ideas include a call for ending universal suffrage. Hudson, his trolling sense perfectly honed, asked Brooks, “How does the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Obamacare alter the legacy of Chief Justice John Roberts?”

It says he’s a Burkean minimalist who didn’t want to create an institutional crisis by asserting aggressive court power. Also, he took the opportunity to reshape the commerce clause so it was all about self-restraint and restraining others.

That’s right — in the very next sentence after calling John Roberts a “Burkean minimalist” who didn’t want to assert aggressive court power, Brooks writes, “Also, he took the opportunity to reshape the commerce clause.”

That’s all.

[The Atlantic Wire]

About the author

Jim Newell is Wonkette's beloved Capitol Hill Typing Demon. He joined in 2007, left for some other dumb job in 2010, and proudly returned in 2012 as our "Senior Editor at Large." He lives in Washington and also writes for things such as The Guardian, the Manchester paper of liberals.

View all articles by Jim Newell
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  1. actor212

    So he's an activist/non-activist justice?

    Wow, I've never seen someone with a double jointed spine before!

    Oh wait, sorry, it's just that Brooks is spineless…

      1. Monsieur_Grumpe



        1.(of a person) Excessively or ingratiatingly flattering; oily: "anxious to please in an unctuous way".
        2.(chiefly of minerals) Having a greasy or soapy feel.

        It works both ways!

    1. Boojum

      He's just passive aggressive. He's all, "No, really, Obama, it is totally cool, even though, if I wanted to, I could point out how unconstitutional it is under the Commerce Clause. But, really, I don't mind, because you've got that whole weenie tax power, but, you know, I think that the States are sort of right about you maybe being overly black, with the spending clause "who has a bigger dick" thing, but you know I love you."

      The whole decision, in a paragraph.

  2. bumfug

    Somewhere a couple of really smart guys read this, muttered "Ah, the irony" then chuckled softly.

      1. Mittens Howell, III

        You're so welcome. I specialize in translating pretentious ball-gobbler-ese into nasty gutter-filth-ese. It's a fucking gift.

    1. JustPixelz

      Both genders in one man(?)! As Steve Martin explained in L.A. Story: "If I had breasts, I'd never leave the shower." (paraphrase; too lazy to google the line)

    1. Serolf_Divad

      Maybe he meant Brooke Burque. My googling shows her attire to be quite minimalist.

  3. actor212

    It is stunning how much credit a Republican can get for not doing something 100% insane, just once, over the course of a lifetime.


    "Tear down this wall," ring any bells, Ginger?

  4. Joshua Norton

    I don't think we should be so eager to defend Roberts.

    After all, he still gave us "Citizens United" and as soon as Prop. 8 gets to the SCOTUS, watch how fast he toes the wingnut political line once again.

    /sorry for the lack of snark

  5. SheriffRoscoe

    Faux-intellectual experience for yuppie weenies, Jim. Thanks for giving me the cover I needed for not understanding much/any of these utterances by David Brooks.

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Relax, Roscoe –the homeless guy at the Broadway subway station mutters in what might be Bulgarian, and I don't feel bad about not understanding him.

    1. SheriffRoscoe

      Thank you. I thought he was referring to a person named Burk, another name I couldn't really place.

      1. gullywompr

        Still don't know, but apparently he said some shit, like:

        called Hastings the 'captain-general of iniquity'; who never dined without 'creating a famine'; his heart was 'gangrened to the core' and he resembled both a 'spider of Hell' and a 'ravenous vulture devouring the carcases of the dead'.

        Which of course makes Roberts just like him.

    2. SorosBot

      I think he's talking about the corporate douchebag played by Paul Reiser in Aliens, the one who tried to set the face-huggers on Ripley and Newt to smuggle the aliens back to Earth. He'd be a hero to an asshole like Brooks.

    3. GunToting[Redacted]

      I think he is 50% of the famous duo "Burke and Hare," who had a brief yet lucrative career suffocating their fellow drunks and selling the corpses to medical schools in Victorian Edinburgh. If I remember correctly, Burke sold his colleague out and escaped the hangman's noose. No wonder the `baggers admire him.

    4. karlamarx

      edmund burke is an anti-democratic king-lover irish guy who moved to england, pandered to the powerful, and generally made himself useful to those who had money. died in 1797. every time i hear about conservatives calling him the godfather of the conservative cause, i whole heartedly agree.

  6. prommie

    He made the Commerce Clause all about "self-restraint and restraining others?" I may have to chew on this for a while.

    1. Baconzgood

      Self restraint and restraining others? We'll it's friday and I'm feeling a little…Ya know….saucy.

      1. Serolf_Divad

        "Self-restraint and restraining others" = bring out the gimp, but don't do anything too horrible to him, ok?

    2. Biel_ze_Bubba

      There might be something about "safe words" and the First Amendment in there, but it's a really long opinion and I haven't read it closely.

  7. Ducksworthy

    David Brooks exemplifies the fact that if you're half sane you're still insane. Got a ways to go there Dave.

    1. Baconzgood

      I'm not against universal suffering. I think those lizard people on planet Mongo need wiped out!

  8. mavenmaven

    This is how republicans define bipartisanship- being for and against the same thing whenever it suits them.

  9. valthemus

    Another right-winger who thinks glasses and a condescending attitude are all you need to be considered an intellectual. Was Brooks at the Ideas Festival hoping to buy one?

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Hoping to get lucky. You know how it is with conservatives, hotels, and conferences away from home.

  10. i_AM_ready

    Roberts is just embarrassed because Nino is junkin' up the Court so much lately and people are starting to talk…

  11. prommie

    The Commerce Clause is all about "self-restraint and restraining others." Its not so much that I am trying to discern Brooks' intended meaning here, I don't think he actually had any real "meaning" in mind, as we understand that word. I'm just trying to find whatever pretense, whatever shadow, shade, simulacra of a meaning there might be, whatever it was that he thought these words might mean based on some vague associations of words taken out of disparate contexts, you know what I mean? But for the life of me, I can come up with nothing but masturbation and light bondage. And I am lost as to what that all has to do with the commerce clause.

  12. Come here a minute

    It's hard to write consecutive coherent sentences when you're seeing STARBURSTS.

  13. SorosBot

    Ending universal suffrage does seem likely to appeal to the man who said, "I don’t know if America has a leadership problem; it certainly has a followership problem. Vast majorities of Americans don’t trust their institutions." The problem is that all us little people don't properly respect and follow our betters!

      1. scvirginia

        Hey! Last I checked, the folks who voted for Orly Taints, Chris Christie, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Mittbot.4200, Judge Kreep, Shelly Bachmann, etc., etc. were not from the south. It's not our fault if all the Yankee snowbirds come down here to retire & vote down property taxes because THEY don't have any children in school here…

        Sadly, human stupidity is the norm everywhere, even if Southerners are a little prouder of it than elsewhere…

    1. ChernobylSoup

      Roberts is more of a Cruisian Maximalist: Stiff, arrogant, and not very good at his chosen profession.

  14. edgydrifter

    One of these days, the slouching corpse of William F. Buckley is going to rise up from the grave, pause to chuckle over an article in The Economist, and then grab David Brooks and George Will by the throat and shake them until their bodies are as limp as their arguments.

        1. scvirginia

          Great band! I saw 'em in concert way back when when they were touring with the Special Olympics & the Circle Jerks, and they- oh, wait…

  15. SexySmurf

    I'm going to reserve my opinion until Malcolm Gladwell weighs in with his pretentious word-salad.

  16. Ruhe

    God! These fucking republican intellectuals. They go out of their way to make sure we all know how smart they are and that they are definitely smarter than the rank and file of their party but then they consistently, year after year, fail to actually move their party toward rationality. Hey, Brooks. Stop wasting time arguing with E.J. Dione and go to a damn tea party meeting and try talking some sense into those morons. The discussion is no longer about which ideas to the immediate left or right of center are good ones. It's about how the corn-fed bulk of your party keeps dragging the whole policy debate down a rabbit hole.

    1. anniegetyerfun

      You know, I love Republican intellectuals precisely because they CAN'T do anything about the wingnuts totally taking over. They're like smart pandas – we need to cover and protect them and try to get them to breed, not because they can offer any useful function, but just to remember that there was once a world that had room for such beasts. Sure, they are probably doomed to extinction, but it's nice to sort of look back and be, like, "Ah. The world as it was."

      1. Biel_ze_Bubba

        Plus "intellectual" and "conservative" co-existing in a single skull is a topic worthy of research, all by itself.

  17. UnholyMoses

    Can someone show me where, exactly, the Constitution states that government needs to be as small as David Brooks' penis so that it may then be drowned in a thimble?

    Just leave any evidence you find down at the Applebee's salad bar.


  18. EBGrey

    I hope David Brooks uses "Obamacare" to buy a new pair of glasses. He's gone long enough wearing an old pair handed down from his mother.

  19. anniegetyerfun

    I had a pair of Burkeanstocks once. They were really comfy, but they didn't smell so good after a year or so of wear.

  20. Callyson

    Jesus, so Roberts comes up with one decent ruling, months after that poll showed a steep decline in the Supreme Court's rating by the American people, and in the same term they upheld mo' money mo' speech, and he's a fucking philosopher now?

    David Brooks is such a wuss. Wish Michelle Obama would bitch slap him with her arms that frighten him so…

    (Yeah yeah, in a totally non violent way &etc.)

  21. Lionel[redacted]Esq

    Centrist yuppies can barely handle themselves now

    That line next to David Brooks picture has put me off masturbation for at least few days.

    1. Goonemeritus

      I find that shade of lipstick David is wearing really brings out his eyes. Obviously he still a douche bag but the lipstick works for him.

      1. Jus_Wonderin

        I believe that is the exact shade the undertaker used on sweet Aunt Dottie.

        EDIT: Oh, sorry, didn't want anyone to fret. Aunt Dottie didn't pass. She just fell asleep at Uncle Euless's service.

  22. SayItWithWookies

    David Brooks needs to get sent back to the Clue Festival.

    Also, his double-edged spoon approach is similar to Michele Bachmann's opinion, which was that Roberts is now in charge of an activist court. Because now it's apparently judicial activism to uphold a law.

  23. cheetojeebus

    Later that evening:
    a quiet room. Soft music is playing, the TV is on mute.
    one hears the rhythmic slap of flesh, as if a naked bunny rabbit is scratching behind it's ear.

    Brooks: " oh, oh oh yeah, I said it yeah I said it…Sweet mother….momma……"

  24. Tundra Grifter

    Out west, where you vacation, the aspens will already be turning. They turn in clusters, because their roots connect them.

  25. elburritodeluxe

    It's devastating to consider that our era has no Hunter S. Thompson to attend the Big Ideas Maturbathon high off his tits on Crank.

  26. ttommyunger

    I guess its best to have a "Safe Word" when tying one's mind in knots, but ‘BURKEAN MINIMALIST’ is kind of hard to remember, especially with a ball-gag in the mouth. (You know you love it, David, Mark Shields does it to you every Friday.)

  27. rickmaci

    So far this blog seems to be about verbally pleasuring yourself and restraint techniques. Hmm. EDITRIX !!!!!!!!!

  28. Doktor Zoom

    I like the minimalists, especially Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass (and Steve Reich), Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass (and Steve Reich), Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass, Philip Glass (and Steve Reich).

  29. Chichikovovich

    Here is all I have to say on the subject of Burke: i) Commiemom has a terrific blogpost about reading him as a student. ii) His defenders like to say he was "opposed to slavery" – which he was, in the sense that he felt it would be better if the institution doesn't exist, but of course, it would be horrible to stop holding human beings in chattel slavery, driven to work until they dropped from exhaustion, killed at the whim of their masters, with no right to marry or form a family immune from destruction at the master's whim, if the abolition created too great an inconvenience for the masters:

    “Whereas, It is expedient, and conformable to the principles of true religion and morality, and to the rules of sound policy, to put an end to all traffic in the persons of men, and to the detention of their said persons in a state of slavery, as soon as the same may be effected without producing great inconveniences in the sudden change of practices of such long standing.”

    That's the Brooks/Burkean motto: "It really is a shame that all these people are starving/dying from lack of health insurance/etc. and something should be done about it, as long as it doesn't inconvenience the masters in any way."

    1. Biel_ze_Bubba

      Why do I get the feeling Burke would be a denialist about AGW? "Sorry about that, Maldives, but cutting emissions would have been just so, you know, inconvenient.

  30. randcoolcatdaddy

    "It says he’s a Burkean minimalist who didn’t want to create an institutional crisis by asserting aggressive court power."

    We love it when you talk dirty like that, David.

  31. DahBoner

    "The man who loves change…is wholely unqualified from being an agent of change!"


    I didn't know they had bath salts in Vienna back then…

  32. carlgt1

    I've been thinking, is it correct (or just elitist) to say a right-wing intellectual is always a pseudo-intellectual?

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