"It's hell. I can't stand it!' This cri de Coeur is attributed by Madame Bruni-Sarkozy to Michelle Antoinette Obama, but it might equally be attributed to John Boehner, Karl Rove, what used to be called the Mainstream Media, most sitting members of the House and Senate, and job-seeking graduates of most Ivy-League colleges and universities. Times are tough, and as a result, many well-fixed types find themselves for the first time in their lives on the wrong side of rigorous new performance standards and some unsettling new behavioral patterns among the rest of us. They had it made; this was supposed to be fun time-what gives?
In the fat, or at least the seemingly fat, times life was a lot easier. To hold down a $300,000 Vice Presidency for Community Window Dressing at a university hospital, all a well-connected future First Lady had to do was show up, and maybe occasionally explain why it was that emergency patients from the neighborhood were shunted off to some new community health center. If you really were a likely next Speaker of the House, none of your caucus had the temerity to criticize merely because you were clumsy enough to undercut a fundamental element of your party's stated fiscal policy. If you were fawned over universally as a political genius and chose to chastise what you regarded as the disruptive antics of an annoying political time-waster, the TV host duly beamed in admiration at your sagaciousness, and the audience certainly did not, in response, fill her campaign coffers. Pronouncements of important media figures were not subject to verification, much less contradiction, nor did utter alienation from the world view or the values of the audience have any impact on ratings. Never in the fat times were Congressmen and Senators forced to denounce or at least distance themselves from legislative achievements that had been the centerpiece of their party's and their President's program in order to entertain any hope of survival. Add to this the notion of corporate recruiters passing Harvard and Princeton by for Penn State, Purdue and Texas A & M,
because the latter institutions are more likely to justify the time and expense of a recruitment visit in terms of yielding employees with the kind of skills companies need, and we seem to be witnessing if not hope for threatened elites, at least change.
Sadly, for those affected, it seems that non-performance, ignoring the desires of the electorate or the demands of the market, and unearned status and deference are luxuries this country can no longer afford. These, like light bulbs that can't be thrown into the trash when they burn out, flu hysteria that results in a huge oversupply of needless vaccine, and creating a man-made drought in hitherto productive farmland, all now seem to us like the foolish extravagances of a binge lost in hazy memory. Let's get the lesson right, though. This emergent seeming Sans Coulottism of the Right is not the mirror image of the Left's politics of envy. It is merely good accounting. Having looked at the books finally we realize, and we hope not too late, that we can no longer afford incompetence; we can no longer subsidize fantasy, and indulging presumption has gotten just a bit too expensive.