Monday, September 13, 2004

Spreadsheet People

Yesterday, David Brooks brought us a typical example of his analytical skills.
There are two sorts of people in the information-age elite, spreadsheet people and paragraph people. Spreadsheet people work with numbers, wear loafers and support Republicans. Paragraph people work with prose, don't shine their shoes as often as they should and back Democrats.
He then proceeds to compare scuffy-shoed liberal professors and reporters with wing-tipped conservative CEO's. He does show a modicum of sense by adding near the end of his piece,
It should be added that not everybody fits predictably into the political camp indicated by a profession. I myself am thinking of founding the Class Traitors Association, made up of conservative writers, liberal accountants and other people so filled with self-loathing that they ally politically with social and cultural rivals.
So many responses are possible - most which come to my mind are sarcastic. "Perhaps, Mr. Brooks, you should rephrase that a bit. It's not paragraphs versus spreadsheets - its ideas versus cash. If you are concerned with thoughts and ideas, you are probably a Democrat; if your world revolves around amassing personal wealth, you are probably a Republican." Or perhaps we should call it "Egalitarianism versus greed. Those who take less-paid helping professions to give back to the community are more likely to be Democrats; Those who wish to bleed the country dry for personal gain are more likely to be Republicans." Silly, sweeping generalizations, sure - but those are the primary tools Mr. Brooks uses in his trade.

Or perhaps we could look at it more simply - his conclusion is just a bit off. Brooks tells us that paragraphs are a Democrat thing. It's not that he's a "class traitor" - as people who attempt to read his columns can attest, the problem is that he isn't a "paragraph person" - he's a lousy columnist. Maybe he should take up accounting.


  1. David Brooks is insightful (ouch I bit my tongue again). What he meant is that Democrats are paragraph people, and republicans are sound bite people. Look at the debate, and you'll see how wise he is.
    Too bad he couldn't finish that thought, but that goes with being a sound-biter...

  2. Oh, I'm not arguing that Brooks' thoughts and columns don't "bite".... Not at all.

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