“If you were to pick a presidential candidate on the basis of social standing — and really, darling, who doesn’t — you’d have to pick Howard Brush Dean III over George Walker Bush. The Bush lineage is fine. I’m not criticizing. But the Deans have been here practically since Mayflower days and in the Social Register for generations.
So sniffs David Brooks, the NYT’s latest prophylactic to ward off the infectious rationality of Paul Krugman.
” It’s true Bush’s grandfather was a Wall Street financier, a senator and a Yale man, but Dean’s family has Wall Street financiers going back to the Stone Age, and both his grandfathers were Yale men.
The Bush family properties were in places like Greenwich, Conn., and Kennebunkport, Me., which is acceptable, but the Dean piles were in Oyster Bay, on Hook Pond in East Hampton and on Park Avenue, a list that suggests a distinguished layer of mildew on the family fortune.
Love the “mildew.” Has Brooks been dipping into E.F. Benson?
” Again, I’m not suggesting the Bushes are arrivistes. Howard Dean’s grandmother asked George Bush’s grandmother to be a bridesmaid at her wedding, and she wouldn’t have done that if the family were in any way unsound. I’m just pointing to gradations. Dean even went to a slightly more socially exclusive prep school, St. George’s, while Bush made do with Andover before they both headed off to Yale.”
“Arrivistes” ? Sacre bleu!
Class Traitors would be more like it.
” On the other hand, both boys have lived along parallel tracks since they went out on their own. Both went through their Prince Hal phases. Bush drank too much at country clubs. Dean got a medical deferment from Vietnam and spent his time skiing in Aspen.”
The “skiing in Aspen” line is particularly amusing, particularly in light of Dubbya’s military record which Joe Conason has quite helpfully examined at length.
” Both decided one night that it was time to get serious about life and give up drinking. Dean was 32; Bush was 40.
Both seemed to have sensed early on that their class, the Protestant Establishment, was dissolving.”
What’s with this “both” bit? What are they — the Corsican Brothers?
“While Dean was at St. George’s, the school admitted its first black student, Conrad Young, who, the official school history says, left after two years.”
Did Dean “dis” him in the hall or something?
” By the time Bush and Dean got to Yale, a new class of striving meritocrats was starting to dominate the place. Both, impressively, adapted to the new society. Dean married a Jewish doctor, raises his kids as Jews, lives in Burlington, Vt., and has become WASP king of the peaceniks. Bush moved to Midland, Tex., became a Methodist, went to work in the oil business and has become WASP king of the Nascar dads.”
Ah but Dubbya was “Born Again” — a very important distinction placing him at considerable remove from more than just “peaceniks” and their Jewish wives.
He believes that his Invisible Friend in the Sky actually talks to him. Moreover, Miss God gives Dubbya direct orders on matters of foreign policy.
Dean, by contrast, is a Democrat.
” And for both, those decades of WASP breeding were not in vain. If you look at Bush and Dean, even more than prep school boys like John Kerry (St. Paul’s and Harvard), Al Gore (St. Alban’s and Harvard) and Bill Frist (Montgomery Bell Academy and Princeton), you detect certain common traits.”
Brooks begins to morph into Matt Damon in The Talented Mr. Ripley, here — sussing out select circles and plotting his way to get into their good graces.
” The first is self-assurance. Both Bush and Dean have amazing faith in their gut instincts. Both have self-esteem that is impregnable because it derives not from what they are accomplishing but from who they ineffably are. Both appear unplagued by the sensation, which destroyed Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, that there is some group in society higher than themselves.”
Ah but Dubbya believes in a “Higher Power.” Quite different from the Social Register.
” Both are bold. Bush is an ambitious war leader, and Dean has set himself off from all the cautious, poll-molded campaigns of his rivals.
Both were inculcated with something else, a sense of chivalry. Unlike today’s top schools, which are often factories for producing R�sum� Gods, the WASP prep schools were built to take the sons of privilege and toughen them into paragons of manly virtue. Rich boys were sent away from their families and shoved into a harsh environment that put tremendous emphasis on athletic competition, social competition and character building.”
Rather daring of Brooks to attribute “bold” to both Dubbya and Dean, as the RNC and its press whores hang onto that word more tenaciously than Faux News does “Fair and Balanced.” But the intention is clear. By putting them together in this fashion Brooks can make Dean’s charisma appear to rub off on Dubbya — while sniping at Dean at the same time for opposing the war and marrying a Jew.
” As Peter W. Cookson Jr. and Caroline Hodges Persell write in ‘Preparing for Power: America’s Elite Boarding Schools,’ students in traditional schools ‘had to be made tough, loyal to each other, and ready to take command without self-doubt. Boarding schools were not founded to produce Hamlets, but Dukes of Wellington who could stand above the carnage with a clear head and an unflinching will to win.’
As anyone who has read George Orwell knows, this had ruinous effects on some boys, but those who thrived, as John F. Kennedy did, believed that life was a knightly quest to perform service and achieve greatness, through virility, courage, self-discipline and toughness.”
Can we have a moratorium on George Orwell please? He’s become as annoying as Carrot Top.
” The Protestant Establishment is dead, and nobody wants it back. But that culture, which George Bush and Howard Dean were born into, did have a formula for producing leaders. Our culture, which is freer and fairer, does not.”
But the Protestant Establishment never went away. It simply morphed into an alliance with “Useful Idiots”: Jewish neo-cons like Midge Decter (who has a book on her good friend Paul Wolfowitz coming out shortly) and House Niggers like the Three Cs (Clarence, Colin and Condi.) And Brooks, swanning about its hallways is again remindful of Damon, particularly in that pivotal scene where he’s found out by Phillip Seymour Hoffman, wondering what “Tom” is doing in “Dickie’s” life. One well might ask the same of Brooks re. Dean:
“You’re in Howard’s house, wearing Howard’s clothes, eating Howard’s food. The only thing I don’t see here is. . . Howard.”