That blasted girl, that wench, had shattered her final highball glass as Peggy Noonan’s scullery maid. But Dame Noonan had not the spirit to dismiss her on this eve, so instead she conjured a weighty silence, an invisible pall under which this mousy strip of a girl would be permitted to clean the last remnants of broken glass from the obsidian tile of the Ennui Room and slip wordlessly away, oblivious to her fate.
It is such a great burden being an elite, mused Our Lady of the Fifth of Peach Schnapps. So many lesser beings depended on her for employment, for prudent guidance, for a simulacrum of a kind of a sort of dignity. But Peggy had been feeling some curious vibrations of late — curious, and worrying. Her fellow elites, especially those in Washington, had grown decadent.
Take, for example, the tele-vision bauble “House of Cards.” The dramatis personae of this diverting tragedy are despicable one and all, yet our political leaders ape them like gamboling fooles!
But it’s all vaguely decadent, no? Or maybe not vaguely. America sees Washington as the capital of vacant, empty souls, chattering among the pillars. Suggesting this perception is valid is helpful in what way?
Chattering among the pillars, good phrase, that. But what of our celebrated merchants, our masters of bourse, our Hanseatic princes? They, too, seem enraptured of their own reflections.
They are America’s putative great business leaders. They are laughing, singing, drinking, posing in drag and acting out skits. The skits make fun of their greed and cynicism. In doing this they declare and make clear, just in case you had any doubts, that they are greedy and cynical.
All of this is supposed to be merry, high-jinksy, unpretentious, wickedly self-spoofing. But it seems more self-exposing, doesn’t it?
And all of it feels so decadent.
It does, it does, O Fortuna! How we have fallen!
And it is all about the behavior of our elites, our upper classes, which we define now in a practical sense as those who are successful, affluent and powerful. This group not only includes but is almost limited to our political class, Wall Street, and the media, from Hollywood to the news divisions.
They’re all kind of running America.
They all seem increasingly decadent.
What are the implications of this, do you think?
It was too much — too much to think through with any confidence in her conclusions. Elitism, disdain, fine distilled spirits — these had been her foundations, her first principles, but these damnable vibrations were whispering to her, telling of worlds beyond the isle of Mannahatta. Strange realms, full of danger.
They’re making their videos, holding their parties and having a ball. OK. But imagine you’re a Citizen at Home just grinding through—trying to do it all, the job, the parenthood, the mowing the lawn and paying the taxes. No glamour, all responsibility and effort. And you see these little clips on the Net where the wealthy sing about how great taxpayer bailouts are and you feel like . . . they’re laughing at you.
What happens to a nation whose elites laugh at its citizens?
What happens to its elites?
I will show you fear in a handful of dust. Who said that? Abba?
Gary Legum is off today.
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