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Bush League

This column first appeared in 2006.

An article in last Sunday’s New YorkTimes on money and class issues in America got me thinking.

Our country’s class systems used to run along lines that while certainly financially based were also at least partially skewed by education, lineage, a good backhand, and knowing how to spoon soup from a bowl.

Slowly, the use of class as a defining social stratum has eroded and while that may be a good thing, we’ve lost the concept of personal “class” along with it.

The once-prized qualities of personal elegance and discretion – in speech and behavior – well that was an art that spoke volumes about a person’s personal class and character.

Where kindness and compassion, reasonable manners, and a soupçon of intelligent thinking once set you apart, nowadays it’s a freak show of gaudy consumerism, jump-on-the-couch self-exploitation and appalling public and private rudeness.

Manners are out the window among rich and poor alike, and who or where you come from is a matter of interest only as it relates to a potentially lucrative six degrees of separation.

So we’ve got an entirely new class system springing up these days.

You’ve got the Trump Class (‘nuff said). The Chump Class (think Frey and Talese doing their dance on Oprah). The Brand Class (which includes not only the Martha’s of the world but all the A-list wanna-bes trying to buy their way into class), and of course, the Shake-Your-Money-Maker Class (Paris, Jessica, and any actress on the cover of Maxim magazine).

I’m not judging these new classes, but certainly they make you wonder if anything akin to real class will survive.

But what I do judge is a class that’s been around a long time. There’s nothing new about it. But what’s shocking is that it no longer shocks.

I call it the Class of No Class at All. And, I know I’m going to tick a few of you off out there, but the Bush League is at the head of this particular class.

With his simian dopey-ness, I had easily relegated our commander-in-chief, G.W. to the Chimp-Chump Class a long time ago. But when he began wantonly invading a country and with abandon threw American men and women into a senseless defense of oil interests, well, then, I had to move the guy further down the social ladder to the just plain “classless” class.

And maybe I’d blame him more, if I didn’t now know that he comes by it all naturally.

To wit: After touring the Houston Astrodome where so many mostly black, mostly poor Americans from New Orleans were scrounging for space, rest, food and water, and safety, the leader of the free world’s mother, Barbara Bush, had this to say, to reporters:

“And so many of the people in the arena here, you know, were underprivileged anyway,” she said, “so this is working very well for them.”

This woman isn’t stupid. She’s not some shock jock Howard Stern doing it for ratings. Her little Marie Antoinette moment was a slip up, I’m sure. But it told me something about where she falls on the class-o-meter: Right alongside her son.

Posted on December 15th, 2008Comments RSS Feed

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