Thursday, June 21, 2018

Literary Corner: Trump is Right!

Four Corinthians, the whole New Testament only has two. TV-room/mancave in the Trump Tower 63rd-story penthouse, not as good as Trump's own place upstairs because where's the gold, via

On the Elite
by Donald J. Trump

You ever notice they always call
the other side ‘the elite’? The elite!
Why are they elite? I have a
much better apartment than they do.
I’m smarter than they are.
I’m richer than they are.
I became president and they didn’t.
(From the Duluth rally, 20 June 2018)

He's absolutely right. This needs to be understood. People who use "elite" to refer to people who don't have money and power are using the word incorrectly. Who does that, anyway?
Last week, Donald Trump Jr went on another tear against New York City elites. He retweeted rightwing pundit Harlan Z Hill: “Events like today are exactly why we took issue with NY elites glorifying the assassination of our president.” (Guardian)
I think most of our problems transcend politics, which is increasingly a reflection of an elite, insider culture that is completely at odds with the majority of the country that it oversees. (Victor Davis Hanson)
But this lack of high-culture markers [in Trump's character] is something to which your average Trump voter, as he or she has been presented to us — flyover state resident, lower-income, feeling despairing and betrayed by leadership in this country for several decades, and emphatically preferring “Evita” over “Tosca” — can respond. (Anne Midgette)
I'm telling you right now: Pretty much everybody who "emphatically prefers" Evita over Tosca, including Trump, is not a despairing low-income resident of flyover country. There could be numerous people in that category who feel more than marginally more irritated in a room with a piped-in "Vissi d'Arte" than one with "Don't Cry for Me, Argentina", as well as the other way around, like me (I hate pretty much all piped-in music, because I can never refrain from listening to it, but if it's good enough to listen to I'm less annoyed because what the hell), but people with the "emphatic preference" for Lloyd Webber over Puccini, like Trump (who's apparently seen the show six times), are wealthy people with bad taste.

Of course despairing low-income residents of flyover country didn't put Trump over the top in 2016, either; that was the petite bourgeoisie of flyover country, who also largely share his tastes. Midgette is the ghostwriter of a book by Luciano Pavarotti's manager, Herbert Breslin, whose reviewers Jane and Michael Stern said in The Times,

Gluttony is a big theme in Breslin's demystification. "It's not just that he likes to eat," he snipes. "He loves to smell food, to touch food, to prepare food, to think about food, to talk about food. When he comes into a room, he begins sniffing like a dog, and his first question is, 'What smells so good?' " We are treated to scenes of him using a tablespoon to gobble up caviar to the point of nausea and of his "swaying belly flowing over the edge of the chaise longue."
Not only is Pavarotti a pig, but he has bad taste, and his house in Modena "looks like something on Queens Boulevard, crammed with trinkets, tchotchkes, anything and everything." When Pavarotti falls in love with the décor of his suite at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, he makes Breslin buy all the furniture, drapes and bedspread, and ship it to Modena. "It looks like a big blood clot," Breslin observes.
She should know better than to think of good taste as the property of "the elite" or even "the cultural elite", if anybody should.

People who weaponize the word "elite", like Harlan Hill, or Donald Junior, or Victor Davis Hanson, belong to a faction of the power elite that seeks to disguise itself, the way the wolf dressed up as Red Riding Hood's grandmother, claiming association with its victims and their ressentiment of people who don't suffer from cultural status anxiety, which is another way of saying ressentiment of "the cool". Whether it's George Clooney on TV or the nameless black guy in the Old Navy watching you buy something that will not look good on you, because it's not about actual status, just the relaxation that comes from not needing to care about it (which I don't think I'll ever achieve but is what I will always aim at). Used by those who honestly feel that cultural anxiety in a huge way themselves, like Nixon and Agnew calling on the support of the Great Silent Majority Vulgarity, or by the slimier hypocrites, sure of their status, tossing a sympathetic nod to the crowd, from "humble folk like"  William F. Buckley Jr.
At Harvard, I was recently informed by Professor John Kenneth Galbraith, there is not a single professor who backs Bush. He modified that later; he had been guilty of conversational hyperbole. But he pointed to a curious and continuing division in thought between faculties in the elite colleges, and humble folk like you and I.
(heh-heh, Old Mr. Buckley's made a horrible petit-bourgeois grammatical error there, should be "you and me")—to Ross Douthat.

It's funny that Big Donald is so guileless he doesn't realize this—projects that status anxiety, which he's suffered so badly from all his life, like a genius for his base lighting up theirs, better than any politician ever, I think, but doesn't have any idea he's doing it, and can't stand it when people suggest he's not elite himself—he has to protest!

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