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Can John Thune save the Republican Party by being normal?

It's evidence, I think, of the sorry state of the Republican Party that David Brooks's column presenting Sen. John Thune as the Republican of the Future relies not on the fact that Thune has new idea or an interesting vision ("His positions on the issues are unremarkable"), but on the fact that when Thune talks, he doesn't come off like a jerk, a militia member or a conspiracy theorist. That's a pretty low bar to clear.

Update: For comparison's sake, here's one of the early Brooks columns about Obama and his love for mid-century theologian-philosophers.

By Ezra Klein  |  November 13, 2009; 12:47 PM ET
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Thune may not sound scary, but the policies he favors are rather scary. His voting record in the Senate is very scary. Seems like a typical dopey brain-dead conservative to me.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | November 13, 2009 12:53 PM | Report abuse

I think the NY Times oughta get its money back for Brooks using their page to express his crushes to the world.

David Brooks actually talks about how nice Thune's face is, how he physically compares to Barack Obama. Its pretty weird.

Posted by: zeppelin003 | November 13, 2009 1:01 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand why people pay attention to David Brooks anymore. He comes across as a somewhat reasonable person. However, his claims, ideas and perceptions remain as wrong and invalid as anyone to the right of Kent Conrad or Max Baucus.

Posted by: bcbulger | November 13, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

It is a good thing for Brooks to be doing the vetting for the Republicans for 2012. It is good for the GOP to know who isn't quite wacky enough to get the POTUS nomination (those who Brooks could say nice things about), and its good for the Dems to know who they shouldn't take seriously (those who Brooks could say nice things about.)

Brooks is the perfect screener.

There's an old saying (that seems to have lost currency) that you can't beat something with nothing. So far as the eye can see, the GOP has nothing. Not to say the zero couldn't become a .0000001, and the GOP would then have something.

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | November 13, 2009 1:18 PM | Report abuse

Normal and, as Brooks details for us, handsome!

Posted by: eRobin1 | November 13, 2009 1:33 PM | Report abuse

"but on the fact that when Thune talks, he doesn't come off like a jerk, a militia member or a conspiracy theorist. That's a pretty low bar to clear." These days, all progressives seem to think that all conservatives are jerks, militia member, and conspiracy theorist. This has nothing at all to do with what we say or how polite we are; conservative points of view come across that way to them.
Therefore, speaking as a conservative, the only point I've heard against Thune is that David Brooks seems to approve of him. That usually means that the appove-ee isn't conservative.

Posted by: MikeR4 | November 13, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

Actually it's the 'only real men are right-wingers' obsession that ought to get a stake through the heart.

Elite columnists like Brooks try to pawn it on the rest of the country all the time.

Posted by: leoklein | November 13, 2009 3:08 PM | Report abuse

*the only point I've heard against Thune is that David Brooks seems to approve of him. That usually means that the appove-ee isn't conservative.*

If only there were some kind of public record of the votes that a senator had taken with which one could evaluate how conservative he is.

Brooks is one of those people who's spend his life trying to be the "reasonable conservative." So he is attracted to the sort of person he is or the sort of person he wants to be. That draws him to right-wingers like Lindsay Graham and John Thune who speak in full sentences, don't express anger, want to distance themselves from the metropolitan coasts and don't try to foment anti-intellectual populist movements (like Brooks is) and are tall and good looking (like Brooks wishes he were).

It has little to do with their actual policies. If Brooks had a problem with conservatism, then he'd be writing paeans to Democrats.

Posted by: constans | November 13, 2009 4:01 PM | Report abuse

David Brooks is a conservative. He's not a far-right dirtbag like William Kristol, but he is a conservative.

Posted by: OHIOCITIZEN | November 13, 2009 5:29 PM | Report abuse

A low bar to clear indeed, but Thune didn't clear it.

Amanda Terkel reports

you decide.

"Last month, 30 Republican senators voted against Sen. Al Franken’s (D-MN) amendment that would punish defense contractors “if they restrict their employees from taking workplace sexual assault, battery and discrimination cases to court.”


The GOP senators who sided with defense contractors at the expense of women — such as John Thune (SD)


Thune is also claiming that Franken doesn’t really care about Jones and other rape victims whose employers have blocked them from seeking justice; he and other Democrats just wanted to “create a vote which they could use to attack Republicans.”"

So the extraordinary Republican who can avoid sounding like a jerk can't imagine why anyone would insist that raped women have a right to sue and is sure that Franken can't really care about such a silly issue.

Posted by: rjw88 | November 13, 2009 9:06 PM | Report abuse

Thune, while out of politics, lobbied for the DME railroad and after his election to the Senate, he sponsored (I think, although he may only have voted) a bill to benefit smaller railroads like DME.

From my experience, Thune's not very smart, is a good basketball player and hasn't accomplished much in his legislative career. His campaign against Daschle was kind of slimy (although that may not have been his doing)

Posted by: williamcross1 | November 13, 2009 11:41 PM | Report abuse

David Brooks, you are a "Right-winger." So please admit it. Why don't you get smart and start pointing fingers at your friends in the House who lie, lie, lie, lie.
Let's start with John Boehner, Eric Cantor,
Michele Bachman, M. Blackburn, K. Brady, D. Camp, G. Davis, M. Fallin, S. Graves, J. Hensarling, W. Herger, J. Kingtson, J. Klein, T. McCotter, C. Miller, J. Miller, Mike Pence, T. Poe, Tom Price, Paul Ryan, J. Shilmkus, M. Souder, Ed Whitfield and finally, the joker himself, Michael Steele.

I may be a Republican myself, but I see between the lines. These people are "TRAITORS" to the party, all of them!!
It's time to replace them with moderate thinking people for the people, and not just for the wealthy. They don't care about middle class Americans, so we need to trash them out of the House!!!!

Oh, and just to keep the record straight,
throw Lieberman out too!! Who do these people think they are, GOD? No. God is better than the mindless idots in Washington with no clear plans for any healthcare reform, just bitter excuses to derail, derail, and derail. They even had the nerve to hold up unemployment checks for 5 weeks!!!!!! 2010 will be more changes then they imagine. The Dems will eat them alive!!!!

Down with the Right-wingers, the party of "NO" "NO" "NO" "NO."

Shameful. Really disgusting to listen to their feeble minds. Go Dems go!!!!!!!!!!!

A Responsible Republican

Posted by: cole4444cole | November 14, 2009 7:20 PM | Report abuse

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