A couple of years ago, in an infamous column published as then-President Donald Trump was facing impeachment, the insufferable David Brooks of The New York Times invented “Flyover Man,” a symbolic character meant to represent heartland America’s Trump voters.
In the column, “Flyover Man” had a dialogue with “Urban Guy,” the voice of reason. Sample:
“Urban Guy: I hope you read the rough transcript of that Trump phone call with the Ukrainian president. Trump clearly used public power to ask a foreign leader to dig up dirt on his political opponent. This is impeachable. I don’t see how you can deny the facts in front of your face.”
“Flyover Man: We knew this guy was a snake when we signed up. But he was the only one who saw us. He was the only one who saw that the America we love is being transformed in front of our eyes. Good jobs for hard-working people were gone. Our communities in tatters. Our kids in trouble. I had one shot at change, so I made a deal with the devil, and you’d have made it, too.”
At the time, I wondered what might have prompted such a leave of Brooks’ senses and self-awareness to actually put such stuff into print — and in The New York Times, no less.
I’m not saying we definitively know now, but I’ll go this far: It seems like the creator of “Flyover Man” might also have a bit of experience with “Hangover Man,” at least judging from his time at an airport restaurant this week.
On Wednesday night, Brooks went viral with a complaint about how expensive airport food is.
“This meal just cost me $78 at Newark Airport,” Brooks posted on X, along with a picture of a half-eaten burger (with the toppings removed), fries and a drink. “This is why Americans think the economy is terrible.”
The post racked up over 34 million views in less than two days.
NJ.com noted that Brooks “did not say where he purchased the food at Newark Liberty International Airport. … He also did not specify his order or the nature of the beverage in the glass.”
“The nature of the beverage in the glass” made for one of the more hilarious fact-checks in recent memory:
This meal just cost me $78 at Newark Airport. This is why Americans think the economy is terrible. pic.twitter.com/1qeV9qOBL3
— David Brooks (@nytdavidbrooks) September 21, 2023
Yes, it turns out that, according to the restaurant, roughly four-fifths of Brooks’ tab was spent, well, draining fifths of hooch.
“Looks like someone was knocking back some serious drinks – Bar tab was almost 80% and he’s complaining about the cost of his meal,” the restaurant, 1911 Smoke House Barbeque, said in a Facebook post.
“Keep drinking buddy – we get paid off everything.”
Now, by my calculations, the hamburger and fries cost him roughly $16. (It’s unclear whether tips were included in this, but I’m just going to assume for the sake of this exercise that Brooks is like Mr. Pink in “Reservoir Dogs” and doesn’t believe in tipping, because otherwise it just gets complicated.)
This means that Brooks spent $62 or thereabouts on alcohol. Restaurant owner Maurice Hallett said Brooks likely ordered two whiskey doubles, which cost almost $30, according to the New York Post.
That’s enough booze that, if Brooks were arriving home instead of flying out, he’d either be 1) taking an Uber, 2) waiting quite a while before safely getting his car from long-term parking or 3) turning from “Hangover Man” into “Breathalyzer Man.”
Brooks received plenty of criticism for his post — and not just from the right, as evinced by novelist Joyce Carol Oates (hardly “Flyover Gal”) joining the fray:
(bar bill: $66. food bill: $12. tip: $0 N Y Times expense account) https://t.co/ZcmHOKuPIi
— Joyce Carol Oates (@JoyceCarolOates) September 21, 2023
You voted for Biden. Chow down. https://t.co/DtrDtO4qdQ
— Nick Searcy, INSURRECTIONAL FILM & TELEVISION STAR (@yesnicksearcy) September 21, 2023
Now, this is also the restaurant’s word against Brooks’, although I’ve never met a restaurateur whose word I wouldn’t trust over a New York Times columnist’s.
There were also those on social media defending Brooks, saying he was actually trying to make a joke:
Brooks has a wicked sense of humor. Methinks he got you all.
— Meathead “BBQ Whisperer, Hedonism Evangelist” (@meathead) September 21, 2023
However, I merely post this reply as a request for summary judgment on the matter:
Has David Brooks’ sense of humor ever been detected?
— jesuisici (@jesuisici714) September 22, 2023
I dunno. Maybe the guy is funny after $62 worth of scotch.
However, let’s just put it this way: A man with a penchant for going viral due to an utter lack of self-awareness has gone viral due to an utter lack of self-awareness with a whiskey-colored liquid right in front of him.
What do you think the odds are that this was some kind of joke that we all missed instead of buttoned-down David Brooks being David Brooks after dark?
I can make no official judgment on whether or not this was a cunning ruse. All I have to say is this: I hope Flyover Man was around to help guide Brooks to his flight or a rideshare once he finished his $78 “meal.”
As for restaurant owner Hallett, he’s basking in the attention Brooks’ attempt at a takedown has brought his restaurant. In fact, he says he might even institute a special named after the columnist.
“It’ll be a cheeseburger and a double whiskey,” Hallett said.
This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.