August 13, 2010


Obama: Fighting the Yuppie Factor: From the price of arugula to vacations in Marbella, the Obamas are the perfect yuppie couple. (Victor Davis Hanson, 8/13/10, National Review)

During the campaign, numerous critics highlighted what we can legitimately call Obama’s yuppie problem — especially after the good times ended with the September 2008 meltdown, and a frazzled public wanted a president who would symbolically appreciate their ordeal. Instead, Obama wondered out loud about the price of arugula. He could not bowl a lick (but foolishly tried), and he scoffed at the gun-owning, white churchgoers of rural Pennsylvania as hopeless clingers, just the sort you would not want to meet at a Bill Ayers book-signing party in Hyde Park.

Michelle Obama, for her part, seemed incapable of giving an impromptu speech without the characteristic yuppie whining. Those damn student loans. And sky-high piano lessons to boot — not to mention the cost of the right camp and private-school tuition! How is a family of four to survive these days?

Oblivious to her privilege and perks, Michelle lectured working-class America that she felt their pain in such a “downright mean country.” Y­­ou see, each time the Obamas got raises, a cruel America “raised the bar,” and so the two had to pay even more for their incessant upward mobility. Of course, the insular hip urban professional never realizes how ridiculous complaints about the price of arugula or piano lessons sound to most Americans. But to the Obamas, a cruel world was inherently unfair in demanding that the two pay back a $50,000-a-year tab at Harvard Law School.

There was never any thought of choosing a cheaper Penn State rather than Harvard, or skipping Marbella for Galveston. Instead, there is always the unfairness of the fact that Harvard costs so much — or that clueless people can be so silly as to criticize necessary downtime in southern Spain. Professor, legislator, and candidate Barack Obama was never going to climb into his Winnebago and, in the manner of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, drive off to tour rural Midwestern America.

So the Obamas, like all insular yuppies, were oblivious to their choice lot, always assessing their social and financial position in terms of lamentation for what they lacked in comparison to the capriciously better off — never in terms of appreciation for their benefactions in relation to the understandably less blessed 99 percent of Americans.

The media were of no help. So desperate were most reporters and commentators for an Obama presidency (and so insular themselves, as yuppies par excellence) that they naïvely assumed that being half black ipso facto gave one street cred — race alone in some warped sense providing working-class authenticity. After all, how could anyone who mimicked the Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s hood cadences be tagged as a yuppie?

Being such a yuppie saved him when the Reverend Wright controversy broke. No one believed he had been listening to or cared much about what was said in that church. We could all accept that he was just there to try and learn how to speak.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at August 13, 2010 6:28 AM
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