Editing David Brooks


Click to read PDF of edited David Brooks op-ed

I’ve constantly been hearing about the atrocious column David Brooks has in the New York Times Monday. You’ve no doubt read it or heard of it — it’s the one in which Brooks implies that participants in the tea party movement are uneducated.

My husband, David, had two observations inspired by the Brooks op-ed. First, he said, when people of modest economic means support the liberals, they’re sympathetically called “poor,” but when these people oppose the left, they are called “uneducated.” Second, David noted that liberals are all against profiling — except, it seems, as a means of identifying their enemies. (You know, “uneducated,” “racist,” etc.)

(Apparently, potential shoe-or-underwear bombers don’t fit the liberal definition of “enemy.”)

I also think David wants to (figuratively speaking) punch Brooks in the nose for his unwarranted insults to good people but that’s another matter, and not something David would ever do anyway, it’s not his style.

My own response to reading the Brooks piece is that the writing is simply Grade D. Maybe D-. I’m talking about the writing, not the opinions (the opinions are “F”). I’m talking intern-level work here, and I mean the beginning of the internship, not after a few go-arounds with the editing process.

To work out my frustrations a little after reading the piece (secretly, I want to punch the guy too, not that I ever would or would be particularly fearsome if I tried it), I edited it. (Again, not for politics, just for construction.) I’ve saved the results in a PDF. Curious to see how well David Brooks would do as a National Center for Public Policy Research intern?

If so, feel free to review my edits here. I let him get away with a few things, but as you’ll see at the end, the piece would never pass muster here.

P.S. Why do you suppose National Center for Public Policy Research staffers get edited before they are published, while columnists for the so-called “newspaper of record” are not?

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