I think that Scott is giving too much credit to David Brooks. He may not be a fool. But he is not that smart. Brooks’ enthusiastic support for the Iraq War certainly raises major doubts about his political judgments.
My take on Brooks is that like in the case of other neoconservative ideologues, politics is for him a substitute for religion — while charismatic political leaders play the role of prophets in his political universe. Michael Burleigh has written quite a lot about the way what he described as “political religious” movements, including some forms of liberalism, communism and fascism helped shape the politics of the moderm era, while John Gray has specifically applied that idea to the neoconservatives.
From that perspective, you tend to respect the prophet-as-political-leader even if you disagree with his views=political religion. But he might disappoint you when he fails to measure up to these very high standards and expectations, proving to be nothing more than a calculating politician. He becomes the God that Failed. Thankfully, John McCain is still around to respond to Brooks’ spiritual needs.
On another level, that of psychobabble, I always wondered whether there is a certain element of eroticism in the way some of these guys tend to, well, fall in love with political figures, and feel a sense of betrayal when their man doesn’t respond to their strong affection. There have been many studies about the way that applies to women feeling desire for charismatic political figures. So I suppose that it could be applied to men who grew up with a weak father and are searching from a strong man in their lives, etc. Well, that’s an idea.