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NYT: Trump Is Bad Because He Belongs to Country Clubs
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January 21, 2018, 09:57 AM
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From the New York Times:

Clubbable, but in the Worst Way

By MICHAEL GOLDFARB

JAN. 18, 2018 LONDON — … Donald Trump is a man of his class — the nouveau-riche, country-club class. Louder and more obnoxious, certainly, but of that class.

I kind of like Goldfarb’s essay because, while it’s demented with rage, it’s one of the rare class-based rather than ethnicity-based denunciations of country clubs to appear recently.

The press has had a hard time figuring out how to get Trump over his golfing, in part because the last two Democratic presidents were such fanatical golfers. Heck, Hillary’s husband is a member of Trump’s Trump National Westchester Golf Club.

Another problem for the media is that Trump is kind of Al Czervik, Rodney Dangerfield’s character in Caddyshack. He’s the good guy in the movie, not the bad guy.

It’s a class I know well. …

My father was a prominent physician, and I grew up in comfortable circumstances at the Jewish end of Philadelphia’s Main Line. * …

In high school, I got to know people who were several classes above us — living on the remains of Gilded Age fortunes. One way social sorting among the various classes took place was via country clubs. The Jews had their country clubs, the Catholics had theirs, and the fallen-on-hard-times WASPs had theirs, whose thresholds we Jews were not allowed to cross.

Surprisingly, this is the only mention of the Golfocaust in the entire essay. The usual perspective nowadays is that the problem with country clubs is that great-grandpa had to help found Hillcrest CC because he couldn’t get into Los Angeles CC. But much of Goldfarb’s leftist ire is instead directed at Jewish country clubs (I get the impression that he only gets invitations from blood relatives who feel obliged to put up with him), although you have to read carefully to notice that.

This confession is my way of establishing bona fides for what I am about to tell you: What Mr. Trump said about certain African countries and about immigrants from Haiti is exactly what you might hear at any country club: in the locker room, or at the 19th-hole bar, or around a big family table with friends and their kids having the Sunday all-you-can-eat buffet.

Clearly, not every club member will think the same way as the president, but in those circumstances, among clubbable people of a similar social caste following the unwritten rule — that you can say what you like and it will not be repeated outside the four walls of the clubhouse — men and women who do share the president’s view can vent their opinions on matters of politics and foreign affairs and race and immigration. …

In the future, everybody must wear Body Mikes at all times so that the authorities can determine if they ever make a politically incorrect comment in their lives. No more locker room privacy! Everything must go on your permanent record. We need to install super sensitive microphones in every sprinkler head on every golf course so that nobody will ever find themselves in private where they can’t be spied upon.

For example, Goldfarb denounces a rich, rightwing Colombian wine entrepreneur he once met in the 1970s for his political opinions.

When my youngest brother finished his M.B.A., I went to his graduation. At a brunch I got into a political conversation with the father of one of his classmates, a fellow from Colombia. The Colombian was a very successful entrepreneur, in the wine business, and he would certainly have belonged to a country club in Bogotá.

He drags the Colombian into this oped about country clubs on the grounds that “he would certainly have belonged to a country club in Bogotá.” In other words, Goldfarb doesn’t know that this Colombian belonged to a country club, but he assumes he does. But what proportion of wine entrepreneurs in, say, Napa Valley in California, a much more golf-enthusiastic place than Colombia, belong to country clubs? Fifty percent? It’s kind of a personal thing whether or not you like the amenities that a country club offers.

… He was the first authentic fascist I ever met … The certainty of the clubhouse. In Colombia, the clubhouse was in control.

In Latin America, golf, like horse racing, is generally associated with Anglophile elites with more libertarian politics than the Latin norm. I went to Google to see if I could justify this generalization and the first hit is from Michael Lind, who usually has an interesting take on things:

Perot hated the Bushes and the Bakers the way that Juan Peron, another modernizing tribune of the masses with a military background, once hated the Anglophile oligarchs of the Buenos Aires Jockey Club.

The Jockey Club has 36 holes designed by the great golf architect Alister MacKenzie. Anyway, I don’t really understand South America high society, but I doubt if Goldfarb does either. He continues:

My memory is that this fellow had applied to emigrate to the United States. He wanted to move his wine business to California. I wonder if he got citizenship?

I thought Latin immigrants were all saintly Dreamers?

Like I said, I find Goldfarb’s old-fashioned Eat-the-Rich rage against country clubs, gentile and Jewish, is more refreshing than today’s usual approach.

[Comment at Unz.com]