David Brooks has become Deputy Dawg, protecting us from change. His metaphor for why change today should be slow, steady and restrained is "Humble Hound". Naturally for Bobo, Humble Hound is a woman, protecting us, as it were, from her "opposite", the boardroom lions:
They are superconfident, forceful and charismatic. They call for relentless transformational change.
Bobo uses that false choice in order to have us step away from a leader, a Democrat, of course, who might be too comfortable with risk, who sees the great things that need to be done and who swings for the centerfield wall in order to get them. Such leaders are too fond of acquisitions (of power or companies), of shifts in direction and changes in strategy.
Bobo fails to tell us that it was a Republican president and his usurping vice president who gave us eight years of high risk policies that have failed miserably. Impliedly, he tells us that it is Mr. Obama who is too fond of risk, who believes his own campaign rhetoric – all evidence to the contrary – and that he really means to impose noble changes.
In Bobo’s mind, the most likely place that would lead us is not into a better future for Middle America, a goal he could not seriously claim to advocate, but into the land of excessive tax burdens on the wealthy and excessive regulation on the businesses they control. Those are actions he does oppose with consistency and fervor.
What sort of leadership ought we to have instead? A cautious, plodding Humble Hound, who can’t chew her gum and walk at the same time without constantly going off balance and correcting herself.
She spends more time seeing than analyzing. Analytic skills differ modestly from person to person, but perceptual skills vary enormously. Anybody can analyze, but the valuable people can pick out the impermanent but crucial elements of a moment or effectively grasp a context. This sort of perception takes modesty; strong personalities distort the information field around them. This sort of understanding also takes patience. As the Japanese say, don’t just study a topic. Get used to it. Live in it for a while.
Throughout, Bobo uses the feminine pronoun for his preferred Democratic leadership style. He might claim he did it for "balance" (an abused Beltway fetish), or because his source used it. What seems more likely is that he is playing a Freudian gender game and slamming the female stereotype, an act his patrons’ base seems to enjoy, while poking a stick at Mrs. Clinton (who lost her bid to be president) and Mr. Obama (who won it, but doesn’t know what to do with it).
The absurdity of Mr. Brooks’ arguments is usually plain. It is especially so here, along with his not so tongue-in-cheek slam at women.
The caution we should avoid is proposing too timid solutions to our long term economic woes and too timid responses to an opposing political party that no longer wants to govern America wisely, only to dominate it exclusively. The change we should fear is not adequately changing our health care and insurance industries, which are bankrupting Americans emotionally, morally and financially. The risk takers we should fear are those who govern Wall Street, and those who would throw out the Constitution because they have convinced themselves that they can wear the Ring and use it wisely. The only thing we need fear from from Mr. Brooks is that someone listens to him.