The Corner

Look at the Toff in the Tux! Ha Ha!

This morning, I saw a tweet that repulsed me. (No different from any other morning, sure.) It was retweeted by a member of the British parliament, who supports Brexit. There was a picture taken of George Osborne when he was a student. (Osborne is now chancellor of the Exchequer, and a foe of Brexit.) It showed him in fancy dress. And the tweeter said, “Why isn’t Osborne angry that power is being taken away from ordinary people? Hmm.”

Cheap, cheap, cheap. There are so many good arguments for Brexit. Why resort to that?

I think the tweet would have given me a thrill when I was about 15. Everyone around me mocked the rich; it was in the air; it was de rigueur. But then I outgrew it, thanks in large part to William F. Buckley Jr. — who absolutely despised that sort of thing. The sort of cheapness embodied in the tweet I have mentioned.

Once, on his show, Firing Line, someone knocked another guest for having fancy ways — a car and driver, for example. (Bill had a car and driver, of course.) WFB shut this down immediately, and memorably.

Caspar Weinberger, when he was secretary of defense, went to Oxford, to debate American foreign policy. His opponent was E. P. Thompson, the famed British leftist. Thompson scorned Cap for wearing a tux. Weinberger responded that he was told this was the dress. Moreover, “my father always said that a tuxedo was the most democratic of costumes, because everyone looked the same.”

(I am going from memory, but that’s pretty much what he said.)

Anyway, I say to (my fellow) Brexiteers: If you keep up with the class and envy BS, people may suspect that you don’t have real arguments — which you do.

There is a line between decent and defensible populism and Marx-like demagoguery. All honor to those who stay on the happy side of it. George Osborne opposes Brexit because he thinks British membership of the EU is better for the British. Tell him why he’s wrong. Alternatively, circulate your photos, snigger, and win your cheap applause.

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