Brooks appears on Matthews show, and seems intelligent. That's why I bought the book. Generally, this book hits all the high points of American intellectualism. He tosses out the right names. The book is sort of satiric, and sort of serious.
Since it was written in the Bubble period, one can be charitable. Maybe this was the most criticism one could offer up. Now things are more serious. The discussion of how elite universities, how they held their power, could be channeled to ask why academics were so wrong in Iraq? Why are America's ideas, like neo-conservatism, so, um, lame? Is that the word?
Brooks gets into a very long discussion of moral absolutes. It's kind of a "Well, if you aren't on the plan, why aren't you going to Hell?" approach. It's a little breathtaking. One can argue that religions differ on the standards, the absolute standards, so if we are here to reconcile religious differences, life is going to be very bloody. He doesn't seem to accept this point, which is fine. Unfortunately, it devalues his idea of moral relativism and the Bobos, though he doesn't use that term, as I recall.
I guess it turns out that being shallow, a bit insipid, and totally materialist has a downside. A lot of the poor world tends to hate you, and wants to destroy you. Oh, dear. What a drag. So many snags.
So, his point about academia and top schools is interesting, as history, but what are these schools really churning out? Why do we have such a large income disparity? Why are we working so hard to build an elite? It's like Brooks is saying the elite is good enough, why sweat it, but I'm not really in it for vague and undefined reasons.
You have to be bright to pull it off. One could ask why anyone would want to pull it off? To have a bestseller?