According to George Packer, David Brooks is pretty perceptive:
When I met David Brooks in Washington, he was even more scathing than Frum. Brooks had moved through every important conservative publication — National Review, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, the Washington Times, the Weekly Standard — “and now I feel estranged,” he said. “I just don’t feel it’s exciting, I don’t feel it’s true, fundamentally true.” In the eighties, when he was a young movement journalist, the attacks on regulation and the Soviet Union seemed “true.” Now most conservatives seem incapable of even acknowledging the central issues of our moment: wage stagnation, inequality, health care, global warming. They are stuck in the past, in the dogma of limited government. Perhaps for that reason, Brooks left movement journalism and, in 2003, became a moderately conservative columnist for the Times. “American conservatives had one defeat, in 2006, but it wasn’t a big one,” he said. “The big defeat is probably coming, and then the thinking will happen. I have not yet seen the major think tanks reorient themselves, and I don’t know if they can.” He added, “You go to Capitol Hill — Republican senators know they’re fucked. They have that sense. But they don’t know what to do. There’s a hunger for new policy ideas.”
I have more thoughts on this matter, but for now the superficial — does this really sound like a plausible reason for David Brooks to have agreed to become a New York Times columnist? Is there some long list of political pundits who turn down that particular job offer? I’m guessing Brooks took the job because he was offered a job as an NYT columnist and that’s not the sort of job you turn down.