Monday, August 31, 2009

Greenwald on Royalty

Glenn Greenwald writes with his usual acuity and acerbity today as a salutes Jenna Bush Hager on her reception into full adult membership in the pool of shared DNA that is the American ruling class. "We did a national search and imagine our surprise when she turned out to be just the right person for the job," someone probably did not say, but just might have.

Greenwald is catching predictable flac for not mentioning Demo aristos (in this week of the Ted Kennnedy funeral), but this criticism misses his particular point. That is: Greenwald's favorite aristos are those who fulminate against affirmative action and who cluck over the ascent of Sandra Sotomayer because someone may have (gasp!) given her a helping hand along the way.

He's dead on of course, but he might have mentioned one other luminary whom the Chosen might have welcomed into their own circle of merit. That would be Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas who simply cannot bear the thought that he might have made it to the top through anything other than his own slash and grab.

But I think I'd generalize the point. Rightly understood, I think it is fair to say that we are all beneficiaries of some kind of affirmative action: the height gene, the gene that makes us look like Leonardo di Caprio, to say nothing of loving parents, a warm-hearted middle-school teacher, a kindly and avuncular old geezer who took a shine to us while we carried his golf bag. The unseemly part may be not (only) the blindness to the fact that being a Bush, a Kennedy, a McCain, a Russert, a Rockefeller, a Bayh, but that we are all just damn lucky to be as well off as we are, and to be prepared to show a little humility about all the bounty that has been showered upon us.

Update: On rereading, I realize that this comes out all wrong, as if I intended to be kind and forgiving to the insiders in the DNA club. I meant nothing of the sort: taken as a whole, they are mostly preening, smug and self-satisfied.

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