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I’m co-opting the term “1%” here to refer to elites of all stripes: from Wall Street, DC, and Hollywood. In today’s WSJ, Peggy Noonan identifies the source of that queasy wrong-track feeling some of us have. She starts by meditating on the current media/political obsession with the Netflix hit House of Cards. Why do so many political elites agree to appear on the show, she wonders:
…it’s all vaguely decadent, no? Or maybe not vaguely. America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars. Suggesting this perception is valid is helpful in what way?
I don’t understand why members of Congress, the White House and the media become cooperators in videos that sort of show that deep down they all see themselves as . . . actors. And good ones! In a phony drama. Meant I suppose to fool the rubes.
It’s all supposed to be amusing, supposed to show you’re an insider who sees right through this town. But I’m not sure it shows that.
And then she knits in the Kevin Roose piece in New York magazine about a high-flying, private “secret society” of Wall Street partiers:
They’re making their videos, holding their parties and having a ball. OK. But imagine you’re a Citizen at Home just grinding through—trying to do it all, the job, the parenthood, the mowing the lawn and paying the taxes. No glamour, all responsibility and effort. And you see these little clips on the Net where the wealthy sing about how great taxpayer bailouts are and you feel like . . . they’re laughing at you.
Elites watching themselves portray themselves on House of Cards, wallowing in the cynicism and the corruption. Bankers yukking it up on Wall Street, gleefully mocking the poor American taxpayer. If you feel like they’re laughing at you, it probably because they are.
Add this to Matt Continetti’s observations — I posted about them here — on the new American progressive elite, and you have what the NYTimes, anyway, would call a trend.
And, finally, some interesting campaign advice:
No one wants to be the earnest outsider now, no one wants to play the sober steward, no one wants to be the grind, the guy carrying around a cross of dignity. No one wants to be accused of being staid. No one wants to say, “This isn’t good for the country…”
Except, maybe — and here’s my early political prediction — whoever wants to win the White House in 2016. These feel like titanic issues to me. Big issues. Reagan-in-1980 kind of issues.