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Saturday, January 02, 2016


The Media’s Snob Problem: Trump’s Gold Palace and Carson’s Jesus Painting

They don't consider it a problem.  It's a way of tearing down their enemies.

There are likely more portraits of Christ, or perhaps of children with their guardian angels, than Rothko reproductions in American households, so I am probably not the only person offended by this ridiculing of Carson. I would go so far as to suggest that there might be an element of racism in the nastiness. It is at the very least unspeakably rude to enter a man’s house and demand to know why he has hung that tacky painting on his wall. Nice people don’t do things like that. Another much-publicized lapse: a marble plaque in the Carson house quotes a Proverb but misspells proverb.

What I think so offends the media elite about Dr. Carson is that he is a self-made man, a striver, who has risen by his own talent and exertion and yet not bothered to come calling for admittance to their club. For all the talk about inequality, the mandarins don’t particularly care for people who escape poverty and then don’t try to be more like them, adopting their approved tastes, attitudes, and opinions. Talking about Carson’s supposedly tacky house is a stand-in for all of these feelings.

Like Carson, Trump offends the chattering classes with ostentation and celebration of his achievements–and by not being one of them. His apartment has the kind of wild taste you’d associate more with a robber baron (in medieval Europe!) than the second-generation rich guy Trump actually is. Your humble correspondent, as it happens, once gained entrance into Trump’s penthouse on the 66th floor of Trump Tower (it was former wife Ivana’s last party there before surrendering the premises to Trump as part of their divorce settlement, and I was a gossip columnist at the time).

A Trumpian word comes to mind: Incredible. All I can remember now is the color gold, the impressive view of Manhattan, and the fact that romance novel cover model Fabio (“I can’t believe it’s not butter”) was a fellow guest. This is enough to madden a mandarin. By way of put down, the Daily Beast observed of Trump’s current home, “Even Liberace might grimace at the excess of it all, and seek refuge in his sunglasses.”

Many of us might not appreciate Trump’s or Carson’s taste, and we might even be catty about it in private–but then we would repent and feel ashamed of being so shallow. Does it really matter if the media does the same thing in public? It matters. The media and many liberals have become the party of wealth; they are put off by self-made wealth unless the arriviste quickly apes ruling class habits and attitudes. In other words: They have become snobs.

This snobbishness exists even among those far below the grandees. Remember disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner? On a trip to England, Lerner wrote in one of her (available) emails to a friend about what she called an “Edwardian village” in England. The village had been ruined because they “permitted” (!) hoi poloi [sic] to move into the village. Like the maker of the Carson proverb plaque, Lerner is an imperfect speller. (She polloi’d with one “l” but it doesn’t matter). With her snobbery she expressed her membership in a certain echelon of modern Washington.

Ben Carson and Donald Trump refuse to do this. Trump seems not to care what anyone thinks of his lavish digs. Ben Carson may have risen from an impoverished childhood to become a renowned pediatric surgeon who separates conjoined twins, but he didn’t know enough to adopt the right opinions and to call Mark Hampton or Sister Parish to decorate his house. And for that, the media can’t forgive them.

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