I think that Brooks’ problem is that he’s an affirmative-action hire whose job description requires him to represent the conservative point of view. (His fluffiness is the unique NYT culture-page part of the mix).
Between the graft, the incompetence, and the military disaster, it’s very hard to say anything Republican about the present political scene without seeming like an idiot. Not seeming like an idiot is important to Brooks in a way it isn’t to Jonah Goldberg, but if he deviates from republicanism the movement-conservative mob will claim that the Times cheated them and snuck in an evil liberal.
If you believed that Brooks was serious about anything or had any interest in facts, you would want to remind him of the divorce rates by state. The states with the lowest rates, in order, are Massachuseetts, Connecticut, New Jersey, Rhode Island, New York, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, North Dakota, Maryland, Minnesota, and Louisiana.
In short, Eastern blue state elitists respect the institution of marriage, and red state conservative religious populists don’t.
Except in North Dakota. North Dakota is the America conservatives pretend they want. But what they really want is Vegas.
(And yes, that’s a fairly fluffy argument, albeit fact-based. But less fluffy than most of Brooks).
It might be fluff, but I like it.