New Orleans Republicans, Democrats, or whatever, when something is way, way over the line, it should be roundly understood as out of bounds. A piece in the New York Times Home and Garden section this week by Kate Zernike called “The Houses of the Hopefuls” was appalling on any number of levels.
Having Glen Beck and other haters give people my home address and phone number is, admittedly, part of why I am fairly easily offended that there are simply no standards at the Times or anywhere else it would seem over about the privacy of public figures, and the Times would at least like to pretend that it is a place that sets such standards. Past privacy though, was there no editorial or journalistic judgment that would restrain them from publishing pictures and descriptions of the candidates houses in the interest of public safety and some sense of a basic human right to safety, even if they are so bold, arrogant, or principled to put themselves forward for public office.
On those grounds alone the piece was offensive from its first premise that somehow we (citizens and voyeurs?) have a “right” to peek through the windows of their houses and stalk them on the blocks where they live in order to “get to know them better.” God, how ridiculous is all of that?
But, then if readers tried to get through the piece, you would quickly be able to discover why Republican candidates of all stripes and persuasions have no problems with the “call and response” from their base about the smug elitism and sensibilities of what former Vice President Spiro Agnew once famously called the “nattering nabobs” of the East Coast corridor. The article without apology seems to see its mission as making fun of the candidates and their families, parading forward one rock throwing, self-promoting designer after another willing to take a crack at the taste and sensibilities of these candidates and their private spaces. The article was snide and “bitchy.” In this case bad taste was truly in the eyes of the beholder, because virtually the entire article reeked of bad taste compounded by terrible judgment.
The reporter and the Times think they are in a position to take potshots at the taste of the candidates because they are so old-fashioned, traditional, and tend towards the “colonial” in housing styles. Duh? Quelle shock! When George McGovern ran for President as a peace candidate against the sitting Democratic President Lyndon Johnson over the issue of the Vietnam War, he clearly stated a universal political law when he said, “those that would be most radical, must remember to appear most conservative,” as he explained his on wardrobe and lifestyle in the post-sixties environment.
Here’s the perfect example from the article. I’m no friend of Michelle Bachmann, but once one gets past that and wraps one’s mind around the fact that a large family overflowing with adopted and other children that makes its money through public and social services can possibly afford a house with a $750,000 price tag, why is it not in fact admirable that she and her husband bought a house that was part of a charity construction design and build project? To me it seems commendable in fact, though it rates no comment from the Times other than earning her a couple of body shots from a so-called professional whining about the design and line of the roof, as if Michelle and her gang were the architects and up there hammering away on the beams and shingles.
It never gets better after that, expect that the reporter and her buddies do seem to believe that you get more if you are richer so they had some faint praise for Romney and Huntsman as the zillionaires of the crew.
The Times Public Editor and anyone with an iota of routine manners and slight common sense should recoil and protest this unseemly and unsafe invasion of privacy and ad hominem attack (and that goes for Michelle Bachman , too!).
As always, let’s hope for a better new year!