Keeping Up Appearances

Sen. Obama’s comments at a San Francisco fundraiser show he could learn a lot from our current president about how to succeed at being an elitist

By Elan Barnehama

Senator Obama recently opened up a can of bitterness and could not get the lid back on before that damning “elitist” label spilled all over him.

Most elitists are taught that they should never be smug (in public) about their elitism. We know that elitists know that we know that elitists have better lives than the rest of us, but some things are better left unspoken. Most of our nation’s elite go out of our way to stay out of our way. They ride in limos, fly in private jets, eat in exclusive clubs and vacation in secluded resorts – just to keep from rubbing their wealth and good fortune in our faces. Being a relatively new elitist – and therefore lacking the much-needed experience to be a successful elitist – Senator Obama made the typical rookie mistake.

Our current president went to a New England prep school, an Ivy League college and another Ivy for graduate school. Can’t get more elitist than that. But President Bush was able to transcend his upbringing and rise above his elitist upbringing. When one of the elite comes out from behind their hedge fund for the purpose entering the public arena and serving the public good, shouldn’t we cut them some slack? Of course not. President Bush didn’t need any slack. He knew how to shed every shred of snobbery. He reduced our last two presidential elections down to the question of who we, as a nation, wanted to have a beer with. In both elections, we chose the alcoholic.

And since none of the remaining candidates fit the beer-drinking mold, I’d advise them to reduce this contest to lapel flagpins.

Elan Barnehama is a writer living in Western Massachusetts. He has taught at several colleges and was, most recently, a Senior Writer for Wesleyan University in Connecticut. His commentaries have aired on public radio and appeared in newspapers. E-mail Elan at:

2 thoughts on “Keeping Up Appearances”

  1. The guy lives in a $1.6M house that he got for being on the take to Tony Rezko. Wife isn’t proud of being an American. His kids go to PRIVATE school. And he and his old-lady are both Ivy league educated. How can anyone suggest Obama is NOT elitist?


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