When a heart is empty – words from conservative pundit David Brooks

I have shared before David Brooks is one of my favorite conservative pundits. I read his columns and have read two of his books, “The Road to Character” and “The Social Animal.” I even went to hear him speak when he came to town, as he focused on remembering community and community gathering places. Monday’s editorial column by Brooks is called “When a heart is empty.”

Brooks highlights how an unfeeling, self-absorbed author named Emmanuel Carrere is forever altered by a crisis, when he loses his granddaughter to a horrible tsunami. Per Brooks, Carrere “develops a deep and perceptive capacity to see the struggles of others” and he writes about the change in “Lives Other Than My Own.”

Brooks uses this change to contrast it being “opposite of the blindness Donald Trump displayed in quotes reported by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic and Bob Woodward in his latest book about the administration, ‘Rage’

Brooks goes on to say “Trump can’t seem to fathom the emotional experience of their lives (the deceased soldiers he called ‘losers’ and ‘suckers’) – their love for those they fought for, the fears they faced down, the resolve to risk their lives nonetheless.

If he can’t see that, he can’t understand the men and women in uniform serving around him. He can’t understand the inner devotion that drives people to public service, which is supposed to be the core of his job.

The same sort of blindness is on display in the Woodward quotes. It was stupid of Trump to think he could downplay COVID-19 when he already knew it had the power of a pandemic. It was stupid to think the American people would panic if he told the truth. It was stupid to talk to Woodward in the first place…

It is moral and emotional stupidity. He blunders so often and so badly because he has a narcissist’s inability to get inside the hearts and minds of other people.”

There is more, but the gist of the piece can be gleaned from these quotes. Brooks said earlier this year, “Donald Trump does not have a sense of decency or empathy.” He reiterates this theme above. And, there is a line from one of my favorite political movies “The American President” with Michael Douglas and Annette Bening. “Being president is entirely about character.”

10 thoughts on “When a heart is empty – words from conservative pundit David Brooks

  1. Keith – David Brooks is one reason I watch the PBS newshour on Fridays – he is reasonable and thoughtful, a refreshing change from what is on most ‘news’ programs :)) Thanks for the post – I missed his essay yesterday, but will go find it now. -Susan

    • Jill, just last night on the town hall, he said he had played up the pandemic, going against his repetitive comments. He lies so much, he would lose an argument with himself. Also, he avoided answering a black man’s question on race, leaving the asker to say he convinced me not to vote for him. Keith

      • I read about that! I also read that he blamed Joe Biden for the fact that there is no national mask mandate! How stupid does he think we are??? Never mind, no need to answer that question. Sigh.

  2. Exactly. He truly can’t understand. He has the emotional intelligence of an 18 month old. He responds to physical pain, hunger, and anger when he doesn’t get his own way. He is simply devoid of the rest of the emotional spectrum.

    • Linda, seemingly every question, he applies how it impacts him, not others. It was OK for him to have social distance from his faithful, but their distance from each other mattered not. Keitj

  3. If we get out of this alive and whole, I imagine there will be many books written about the cult of trump and his narcissistic behavior. I think he has lied his whole life and never had to face the consequences of his actions. Even now so many people are covering for him and making excuses for him.

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