The published conversations between NY Times columnists Gail Collins and David Brooks are always witty and enlightening, thanks mostly to Collins’ wit and political enlightenment. More mutual debate of this kind would be both more useful and entertaining than the typical monotonous monologues our pundits produce.
In their latest tete-a-tete, we learn that the usually cautious, sort-of -centrist Brooks could support a single-payer health care option (except, he says, the nation won’t support it) and public financing of elections. Most surprising fact of all is that one of “the heroes” of a book Brooks is writing is none other than Dorothy Day, the Catholic journalist, pacifist and founder of the Catholic Worker newspaper and homes for the urban poor. Collins asks Brooks about the book he is writing concerning “living a more profound inner life” and Brooks says this in reference to Day:
“She led this morally strenuous life all of her life, self-criticizing and writing and praying over her sins. But at the end of her life, she had achieved an impressive fullness, a centeredness and an overwhelming sense of gratitude.”
Day was one of the most active and public of radical Catholics, following what she felt was the true Gospel of Christ– rejecting all war, helping the poor– (Day’s archived papers are now located at Marquette University) as both a writer and activist. That Brooks is apparently focused on her inner spirituality is odd, but perhaps consistent with a more conservative appreciation of Dorothy Day. I guess we’ll have to wait for Brooks’ book to find out exactly how he treats Day.
Collins, by the way, agrees with Brooks on single-payer as a better alternative to “Obamacare”, saying, “If only the president had not taken the path that was touted by several generations of Republican deep thinkers.” Brooks would do well to put Collins in his new book; her inner life is both droll and profound.