Info Gluttony

But Mr. Brooks, Saabs* are Ugly Too

Posted in Uncategorized by echan on March 4, 2009

Over in the NYT’s columnists who blog section, Gail Collins and David Brooks had a conversation about whether or not those who can afford  to should spend to help speed along our economic recovery (or to at least retard our economic decline).  Brooks’ comments on the type of cars that Obama administration officials drive make me want to chuck a shoe at Brooks’ head:

Gail, recently I’ve become greatly disturbed by the cars that are owned by the top officials in the Obama administration. These are people who have been making serious change for many years as president of Harvard and that sort of thing. And yet according to published reports, they tend to drive 1995 Honda Civics and 1994 Ford Tauruses. In other words, they own the kind of cars that are the subject of a hundred “Car Talk” episodes because they only go into reverse when the radio is set on AM.

In my view, anybody making enough money to afford it should be driving an understated semi-luxury vehicle, like an Audi, Acura or an Infiniti. To drive less shows a lack of appreciation for the finer things in life, a lack of sensual acuteness, a certain inner drabness.

I find a couple of things about this particularly funny.  First, notably, Brooks doesn’t recommend that these people purchase American cars, even though it has already drawn the ire of the press that many of them do not drive American.  Second, I think Brooks is singling out Larry Summers as someone with “inner drabness,” since he’s the top official with mid-90s model cars (while Tim Geithner has a next-to-new Acura, which fits in with Brooks’ desire).  I don’t think that a car, however, makes the man, except in the case of Robert Novak, whose black Corvette is in line with his inner douchery.

*Saabs, which used to be favored by the HLS faculty, are exactly the type of pretentious, but not really, crap semi-luxury cars to which Brooks refers.  The Prius has since subplanted them in this circle, hence Saab’s bankruptcy.


6 Responses

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  1. robin said, on March 8, 2009 at 5:21 am

    I think a car tells you almost exactly to what degree someone is anchored to the material world — more so than clothes, and definitely more so than an apartment or house (which is just more complicated overall).

    So I’m always charmed by philosophers, writers & yes, even former Treasury secretaries who drive ’95 Civics. I think it betrays a sort of intellectual remove — as if they live more in the world of ideas than the world of things, and in *that* world, their wheels are hot indeed.

  2. Y. said, on March 9, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Not completely related to your post – although I agree with Robin above – but on the topic of spending to speed along economic recover, how are you enjoying your Kindle? I am extremely jealous.

    • eflan said, on March 10, 2009 at 3:29 am

      I take back the comment I left on your blog. The Kindle 2 has not changed my life. After receiving it, I looked at the dozens of unread physical books that I still have to get through and thought that I don’t have time for the Kindle 2. Plus, I had to fork over another $40 for a case.

      I do like the instant downloading though, sort of like on demand for books.

      Robin can chime in as a new Kindle owner too.

      • Robin said, on March 11, 2009 at 2:13 am

        Having just taken my Kindle on its maiden flight, I can say that the airplane is its natural environment. *Perfect* for flying. Especially the way you can snag something new at the last minute if you need to.

        It’s really a shockingly single-use device. Especially in the era of the iPhone, it seems weird that it’s only good at one thing: reading long sections of text, front-to-black.

        But I have to say, it’s *really* good at that. I’ve gotten in the habit of emailing super-long articles to my Kindle so I can read them there. It also has a nice feature for snagging little bits of text from a book, either for research or (ding ding ding) for blogging.

        I wouldn’t 100% recommend it to anybody at this point; I think you have to read *a lot* to make it worthwhile. But I’ve enjoyed it so far. And again: *Perfect* for the plane.

        Also, I did not blow $40 on a silly case, so maybe that makes all the difference in the world 😉

  3. Mental Kindling « Info Gluttony said, on March 11, 2009 at 2:41 am

    […] comment section of my last post has a short Kindle 2 discussion, which forces me to […]

  4. adam said, on March 13, 2009 at 6:55 pm

    Saabs are awful. I had one in HS and I almost died several times from driving it. I think their reliability went up when they were bought by GM, but they still suck.

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