The column in question is the one Brad links to in the previous post, and I think it's actually a pretty well written column and makes an important point in such a confined space as a newspaper column. My thoughts on the column itself are in the comments of Brad's post.
The "Other" McCain calls out Brooks for a "cheap shot" at Sarah Palin and her resignation by lumping her in with Sanford and Michael Jackson. Well, here's the thing, in the context of reticence and dignity - the point of Brooks column - it actually does make sense (even if the inclusion of Michael Jackson does seem a little bizarre). Sanford is an obvious dolt who has no concept of the idea of keeping one's mouth shut and one's pants zipped, and Jackson is the product of much of what is wrong with our culture and the the symbol of all who refuse to grow up.
So why include Palin with these two buffoons? Well, because instead of just saying that she wanted a normal life for her family for a few years, instead of giving her press conference and then stepping aside until the circus had left town, she gave a series of interviews in on a fishing boat in waders. I don't mind the interviews themselves or the waders - I love fishing myself - but if you're tired of the insanity of the national media, why in the world would you do another round of interviews?
Let me be clear: I don't think Palin is as tone-deaf as Sanford or as creepy as Jackson, but she certainly isn't showing a lot of reticence in trying to exit the national stage. She fits the bill Brooks is talking about.
Now back to the "Other" McCain's idiotic post. He tries - very poorly - to justify his hatred of Brooks by attacking this passage from one of his books about the Library of Congress and contemporary politics (1997) as evidence that he has betrayed conservatism:
At a moment of world supremacy unlike any other, Americans are not asking big questions about their civilization, nor are they being asked anything but the sorts of things pollsters and marketers want to know. And so our politics has become degrading and boring. Political conflict appears trivial, vicious for no good reason.
Really, McCain? This is the best you've got? You then spend the next several hundred words talking about architectural style and the price of labor. In giving this "history lesson" - and I use that term very loosely - you miss the point by a mile. Brooks wasn't necessarily talking about government largesse or building actual monuments to national greatness, he was talking about what was inside the Library of Congress. The point is what the Library symbolizes. It's about what our place in the world is and should be.
The Library of Congress is home to some of our nation's greatest documents. It - along with the National Archives - symbolizes the uniqueness of our nation in that it was founded on great ideals and principles. The Library of Congress is the embodiment of reason, on which our nation is built. In this light, yes, our debates in the late 90s seem petty. It's the same problem we have now. We need to appeal to big ideas and big principles, not just slogans.
McCain's partner in crime is Smitty, who tried to one-up his friend in the comments. He points to Mrs. Sanford as a rebuttal of Brooks' thesis, but again misses the point. Jenny Sanford has indeed exhibited nothing but class in this ordeal, but Brooks was attacking politicians, not their wives. Her actions do not negate Mark Sanford's disgraceful actions.
One final point on this is Smitty's accusation that Brooks hates religious people. I doubt that very much. Certainly Washington was guided by faith in God, but he didn't talk about it in as great of detail as his published rules on civility. As for Brooks' swipe at charismatic evangelism, I suspect this comes from an upbringing in the Northeast that is dominated by older Protestant denominations that place a greater focus on one's personal relationship with God and private confession, as opposed to the more public confessions and revivals that are popular in Evangelical denominations in other parts of the country. It isn't hostile towards religion, but rather it is similar to the kind of critiques that many Evangelical Protestants have against Catholicism.
But, of course, this is all missed by a man who wants to do nothing more than get as many hits possible with headlines like "Carry Prejean Nude." In a post after this particular bout of idiocy, McCain complains about how boring diplomacy is, but hey it might be more interesting if he sees some boobies. Yep. That's really dignified.