In America, class resentments center on money.
‘Yes, I am ‘nouveau riche,’ but then, it’s the ‘riche’ that counts, now isn’t it?” So declared Jim Williams in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. And in the American context, that is broadly true: There are at least two senses of the word “class,” and Americans in general care a great deal less about either of them than we do about money. Rich is rich is rich is rich: You can be a rich vulgarian in a line of rich vulgarians (Donald Trump) or a striver from Brooklyn (Jay Z) or a Chicago bus driver who figures out that options traders don’t actually know what they’re doing and makes a truly gigantic pile of money (Joe Ritchie), and in each case Americans will celebrate your success.
You just can’t be Marco Rubio.
Marco Rubio, according to that last surviving bastion of pure Yankee bigotry, the New York Times, has financial problems. What are those problems? He managed a $300,000-plus annual income and an $800,000 book advance in a way that was — get this! — different from the way a New York Times reporter might have. Thus we were treated to the spectacle of Michael Barbaro of the Times writing, no doubt from the study of his $1.1 million New York City apartment, about the fact that Rubio “spent heavily” by buying a house in Miami that cost half of what Barbaro’s apartment did. Rubio also leased an Audi and kept his four children in parochial schools. Because you know how those flashy Latin arrivistes are: always trying to impress their historical betters with their “meticulously manicured shrubs and oversize windows,” as Barbaro and co-reporter Steve Eder put it. We all remember how important it was to Tony Montana that his children attend Catholic schools and that his window treatments be just so.
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