It's the tendency we've all noticed - to create one-issue fixations. For Republicans, Brooks says, the current fixation is tax rates. Responsible governance, he argues, requires we work with many issues simultaneously and pay attention to the larger historical process in which we are participating. But single-issue fixation allows us to forget all that complexity and focus on one issue only, right now only.
Ah, yes, shame on Republicans for focusing on the big issue of the moment, the big crisis, the thing that most needs to be dealt with. Why don't they just turn their attention to other things, and lets the adults like the President and Vice-President and Harry Reid do the heavy lifting.
In case you were wondering, that last paragraph should be read with as if soaked, sauteed, and braised in sarcasm.
Teaching evolution in schools ... prayer in schools ... abortion ... gay marriage ... the rapture or other eschatological topics ... these single issue fixations change over time. But something is "abnormal," to use David Brooks' term, when we ping-pong from one single issue to another, lacking a broader ability to hold multiple issues in dynamic tension.
I'll give Brooks half-credit for a decent point, but the problem isn't the focus on one issue at a time. It's bouncing from one issue to another, one crisis to another, without having properly dealt with the ones that came before.
Thus, we live in a perpetual state of perceived crisis. We try to focus on getting the economy solidly back on track, and the Administration goes around saying it's ignore DOMA and say the military should no longer Don't Ask Don't Tell. We try to focus on doing away with socialized medicine, and the Administration tries to sink us deeper in debt and make it so they can do it even more by raising the debt ceiling. We try to make an economy where jobs can be created, and the President gets up and bashes those companies who have corporate jets.
In chess, one must keep many things in mind when deciding on a plan. But often enough, a single move with address only one or two things. If, for example, the person playing white opens the game by pushing the king's pawn forward two squares, that move directly addresses the need to fight for control of the center of the board, and indirectly helps in development by openning up paths for the king's bishop and the queen.
That player would be unwise if he were to be distracted by bizarre play from the opponent, though any real threats that player may manufacture must be considered.
So, too, the Republicans should focus on certain things, things that have been proven to work, things the people care about, and not be distracted by the attempts to distract them from those things. Things like fiscal responsibility, lower taxes, social conservative issues like the defense of marriage and the restriction or (hopefully) abolishing of abortion, and the return of freedoms to the people and away from the restrictive grasp of the government.
McLaren is simply barking up the wrong tree. Please, Republicans, ignore him. Or read him for the unintentional humor.