The liberal elite's irony-deficient glamour couple
Matthew Continetti has written a must-read piece, chronicling the coupling (as in affianced) of two ruling class up-and-comers: MSNBC's Alex Wagner and Sam Kass, executive director of Michelle Obama's Let's Move health initiative. The article in the Washington Free Beacon is written with lots of detail and just the right tone of skepticism and irony. These are two dyed-in-the-wool progressive champions of the little guy who have risen to prominence on the basis of family, connections, and self-righteousness. I don't doubt for a moment that both are intelligent and hard-working. But they are seriously deficient in self-awareness, and cannot begin to see the multiple ironies of their political stance versus their personal lives.
A piece in the February issue of Vogue about the couple, by Jacob Weissberg, offers Continetti all the ammunition he needs to expose the preening, clueless, elitist nature of the lefty self-righteousness on display, not only with this couple, but in their entire social-political milieu.
An excerpt will give you a sense of the piece, but it deserves to be read in full and savored.
Weisberg in Vogue actually had access to his subjects. And such access: a perfume of casual friendliness, of smarmy knowingness, sticks to these glossy pages, making them indistinguishable from an ad for Quelques Flueres. Weisberg likes these people. He finds them intelligent, accomplished, sophisticated, current, fashionable, tasteful, humble. "I've been a guest several times" on Wagner's show, he tells us in an aside, but it's not like he wants to be invited back or anything. "On good days, the conversation just clicks." Conversation does click when no one disagrees, when no one is disagreeable. Click is a good word to describe the old "Now," where five liberals sat around a table attempting to out-snark each other.
Click may be a good word for the show, but "clique" is a better one for the world described in Vogue. On the first read the Weisberg piece is notable for its status details: the little things, the style of life of bobo liberals that drives conservatives crazy. I am referring here to the meal Weisberg shares with the couple in Kass's sure-to-be-expensive Logan Circle townhouse: "butterflied roast chicken with tarragon and preserved lemons, faro risotto with wild mushrooms and leeks, and a green salad with buttermilk dressing" served with a Barbaresco made by friends in Italy. I am referring to Kass's "hand-forged Carter Cutlery knives, which are produced by a Japanese-trained bladesmith in Oregon." To the Hermès coat, Nili Lotan sweater, 7 for All Mankind jeans, Hunter + Rag & Bone boots, M Missoni dress, and Prada flats that Wagner wears at various moments in the piece. To the names checked by Weisberg to establish the fact that Wagner is with it, au courant, hip, cutting edge: This Town author Mark Leibovich, Ezra Klein, Jonathan Franzen, Frank Ocean, the Tanlines, and New York restaurants Blue Hill, Carbone, Franny's, and Vinegar Hill House. (snip)
Weisberg reports, "Friends describe Kass as reserved," despite the celebrity chef's multiple television credits. Weisberg writes, "Their ideal Saturday night is dinner with friends-not a red-carpet event," and then, in the very next sentence, notes, "In October, they attended the News and Documentary Emmys, at which Wagner was nominated, but sneaked in a side door to avoid the cameras." Wagner describes her horror when she broke a heel on the way to a job interview with George Clooney (she got the job). Mention is made of Kass's five post-college odyssey years, "cooking and eating his way around the world," including "planting corn with Zapatista farmers in Mexico." Weisberg describes Michelle Obama circa 2005-2006 as "an overtaxed working mom."
There are few things more amusing than the preening of privileged elites as authentic representatives of the oppressed. Having spent a couple of decades ensconced in the Ivy League, it is all too familiar to me.