POLITICS

David Brooks praises Bush, dings Maher in Playboy interview

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Yeas and Nays,Politics,Jenny Rogers

Playboy scored an interview (sans pictures) with New York Times columnist David Brooks for its May issue, and Brooks offered his thoughts on everything from fielding angry calls from President Obama to sex among evangelicals.

Among the more interesting tidbits: Brooks talks about George W. Bush and the difference between his public and private personas. “He was 60 IQ points smarter in private than he was in public,” Brooks told Playboy. “He doesn’t want anybody to think he’s smarter than they are, so puts on a Texas act. It becomes so deep, it’s part of him now. I’ve rarely seen a person whose off-the-record manner is so different from his on-the-record manner.”

In interviews, Brooks found Bush “completely candid, charming and funny” during off-the-record portions. “Afterward they would send us a transcript of the session with the off-the-record parts taken out,” Brooks said. “I used to say, ‘It’s like a porn movie with the sex scenes taken out,’ because everything that was fun was gone.”

“Bush would say of a world leader, ‘That guy is such an [expletive].’ It’s impossible to imagine Obama saying that, though he might think it.”

Brooks describes his phone calls with Obama after the president took issue with his columns thusly: “It’s not pleasant but not unpleasant. He’ll say, ‘Let’s put aside the six things that were morally offensive about what you wrote, and let’s get to the issue.’ So he’ll shove aside things that bugged him,a nd then he’ll want to have a serous civil discussion about the substance.”

Brooks also expressed reservations about most of the GOP’s presidential candidates this cycle (“it’s inconceivable that I’d ever vote for most of them”) and his dislike of Bill Maher. “One of the least pleasant [talk shows] I’ve ever done was Bill Maher’s,” he said. “I really did not like being on his show. It’s 20 minutes of how evil everyone is who disagrees with him. I always think it’s unfair.”

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