In a rare moment of candor, New York Times columnist David Brooks opened his piece on Wednesday with an observation that he’d often made before: I am in a train of thoughts.
Brooks is a conservative and a liberal.
He is a Republican and a Democrat.
He is a centrist and a populist.
He believes in the virtues of free markets and the virtues, well, of liberalism.
But he has never really given much thought to what he believes.
The Times has a long tradition of making public the thoughts of its writers and journalists, and the train of thinking Brooks described was an early example of that practice.
In January 2008, for instance, when the first major U.S. financial crisis hit, Brooks wrote an article for the Times that made the point that the world had become less dangerous in recent years.
The article said, “There is something profoundly sad and disturbing about the decline in the risk of dying from the virus that causes the flu, which killed a quarter of all Americans between 2005 and 2010.”
In fact, Brooks was wrong.
The pandemic has never killed nearly as many people as it has in the past.
And even when the pandemic does strike, the death toll is still far lower than it was when the flu first arrived in the United States in 1918.
What Brooks described in 2008 wasn’t the only example of a train in a writer’s thoughts.
In 2012, the same year he first wrote that “there is something deeply sad and disquieting about the collapse of the middle class,” the Wall Street Journal columnist Daniel Patrick Moynihan wrote a piece that was filled with thoughts that were not about politics, economics, or anything else.
Moynihon’s piece was a reminder that the thoughts we all share have the capacity to be as powerful as our political viewpoints.
This isn’t the first time Brooks has had to defend himself against what he called a train-of-thought.
“In 2007, when a friend was dying of cancer, I wrote an op-ed in The New York Review of Books defending him and writing that ‘his life was worth living.
I’d like to live for him to live a life worth living.’
This is the first instance I know of where a writer was so concerned about the consequences of his political opinion that he put a gun to his head,” Brooks wrote in his Wednesday column.
It was a train he was riding on, Brooks said, and it was a hard one.
I am not going to let my own personal thoughts and feelings get in the way of a good book.
That is not my job, Brooks continued.
“I want you to be aware that if I say something that is clearly wrong or distasteful or offensive or wrong-headed, I am going to be called on it and criticized and punished and ridiculed.
And you should be able to say: ‘Hey, he didn’t say that.
He’s not my friend.
I don’t agree with him.’
But Brooks also acknowledged that this train of view can sometimes make him a little uneasy.
In January 2011, he wrote an opinion piece in the Times for a story that detailed his friendship with former President Barack Obama, who died in 2014.
He wrote: “When the president’s life and career were being debated, I thought about him as a father, as someone who had devoted his life to making the world a better place.”
But he said it was also a time when the world was at war, and so he was thinking about the world through a very particular lens.
I can’t imagine how many people would have disagreed with me in that moment.
Brooks said the idea that his friends could have opposed him in that time period was absurd.
But in the years since, Brooks has been called out for having this train- of-thought train in his head.
For instance, in February of this year, Brooks published an opinion column in the Washington Post about the Trump administration’s proposed budget cuts to education funding.
The story focused on the idea, promoted by the Republican president, that if schools could not keep up with rising student enrollment, the government would have to cut funding for public schools.
After Brooks criticized the proposed cuts in the article, the president took to Twitter and accused him of “stupid thinking.”
Brooks responded, “What’s really stupid is thinking that people in the public sector are going to shut down schools when they don’t have the money.
I do not think that’s a good idea.
That’s the stupid thinking that’s causing the problems.
“But it was the tweet in which Brooks said he was surprised to learn that the president of the United State was tweeting that he thought he should be the president because he is a “strong leader.
“I had a bad experience with a tweet by @realDonaldTrump.
My intention was to say, ‘If you want me