Is David Brooks the Last American Whig?

Brooks speaking

No newspaper, magazine, or website is credible these days until it publishes a “David Brooks spiritual pilgrimage” article. 🙂

Most of these pieces are reviews of his latest book The Second Mountain.  Check out examples of this genre at The Washington Post, The New Yorker, Columbia Journalism Review, Religion News Service, Christianity Today, Times of Israel, The Atlantic, The New Republic, and The Christian Century.

The latest Brooks spiritual pilgrimage piece can be found at America magazine where writer Bill McGarvey explores The New York Times columnist’s interest in the writings of St. Augustine and Dorothy Day.

What struck me most about McGarvey’s piece was a paragraph in which writer E.J. Dionne calls Brooks “the last living, surviving American Whig:

“David is the last living, surviving American Whig,” says E. J. Dionne Jr., a Washington Post columnist and Brooks’s frequent debate partner on NPR. In the mid-19th century, the Whig Party—typified by Henry Clay and Abraham Lincoln—advocated for “old national greatness conservatism…internal improvements, use the government to build the country and its competitive capacity. But there was also a very strong moral and religious strain to the Whigs,” he says. “Even in David’s most conservative period, he was always drawn to the communitarian strains of conservatism.”

Read the entire piece here.

If you want to learn more about the Whig Party, start with Daniel Walker Howe’s book What Hath God Wrought or Allen Guelzo’s Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer PresidentIf you want to go even deeper, check out Howe’s The Political Culture of the American Whigs or Michael Holt’s The Rise and Fall of the American Whig Party.

2 thoughts on “Is David Brooks the Last American Whig?

  1. Art Deco,

    Your remarks are very insightful. I used to watch David Brooks and avowed liberal, Mark Shields, in their Friday segment of the PBS evening news or whatever it is called these days. Both men are, in my opinion, personally pleasant guys, but their weekly commentaries are all too predictable. While ostensibly appearing to be representatives of different positions, these two commentators are closer to Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum. (Dare I use the old demagogic but colorful expression of Democrat Huey Long? He called such displays, “the High Popalorum or the Low Popahirum.”)

    The Brooks and Shields segment does a good job of salving the conscience of liberal PBS viewers. “Oh yes, I consume a varied range of opinion.” Sadly, it’s mostly illusion.


  2. No, he’s a poseur who is employed by liberal media outlets to provide emotional validation to their employees and core constituency. Several eastern European countries during the Soviet period had a portfolio of alternative ‘political parties’ engaging in pantomime, built on the institutional shells of the political opposition as it was in 1948. Didn’t fool anyone, and neither do David Brooks, Jennifer Rubin, and sundry other pets.


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