If you want to see how liberals age, visit Washington D.C. bookstore Politics and Prose. Conservative columnist David Brooks braved the crowd there Wednesday tonight, touting his latest book, The Social Animal. Brooks’ favored-son status among the liberal intelligentsia slightly diminishes the heroism of his trip, though tensions did rise when he praised Reagan’s economic revolution.
The assembled laughed if Brooks was witty, gasped if he was shocking, and when he was sentimental a few shed a tear (just one). But, mingling with the crowd, one senses that they are not a happy bunch. Particularly the men. In their dour expressions one sees a warning to the next generation against a life lived with a gender-neutral ideology, which apparently is a vitality-sapping corrosive.
Luckily for the younger ones present, Brooks was there to offer a new course. Ever the itinerant preacher, Brooks decried idolizing an Ivy League education, perfect SAT score, and amoral parenting. The gospel he preached consisted of living a values-based life in a supportive community. Some critics have essentially called The Social Animal’s message and the underlying social science snake oil, yet Brooks’ status as a public intellectual is not in question and he can certainly hold your attention. The few young liberals present were undoubtedly there to learn how they can eventually retire and spend their evenings at Politics and Prose. For them, there is at least the hope that Brooks set them on a new path. For the older men, there is only the promise of another book talk.
Matt Katzenberger is an intern at THE WEEKLY STANDARD.