August 22, 2008

When Pat Buchanan and I founded The American Conservative back in 2002,  we held a press conference in Washington’s National Press Club. One of the first questions posed was how come Pat, famous for his espousal of family values, could ally himself with “a famous philanderer” like myself. Pat handled it well. One needs a sense of humor at such times, and, thank God, both Pat and I possess it. Basically it had to do with money. Pat is seen as a populist—“money is bad, poor is good” type of thing—but he is nothing of the kind and he defended himself admirably.

I remember the press conference well. I was described as looking aristocratic in an elegant gray suit by the Washington Post hack covering it. I recall reading it and thinking how, one Peter Carlson, would have known what an aristocrat looked like. I was nevertheless flattered because I am an aristocrat, and extremely unapologetic about it. Aristocrat in ancient Greek means being the best of one’s field, which I am certainly not. What I am is the heir to an old noble Greek family, and that is all. Which brings me to the McCain brouhaha about owning seven houses.

Here is a man whose grandfather and father were admirals, and who led a squadron of fighters in Vietnam and spent five years in a Vietnamese dungeon, and because he married a woman who happens to own houses is suddenly accused of being an elitist. First of all, what is wrong about being an elitist? Would the Washington elite prefer him to be living in a trailer park?  The Clintons have made over 125 million big ones by serving the interests of Saudi scum and other low lifes, and here we have the media accusing an honorable man of being elitist.

When the question came up back in 2002, about my lifestyle compared to Pat’s, I remember answering some dumb query with the following: “ Womanizing is a matter of honor, we Europeans take care of our wives, unlike you Americans who divorce the mothers of your children and marry younger women. We simply take mistresses and put our wives on a pedestal. If it sounds elitist, so much the better. My wife and mother of my children has obviously suffered because of my womanizing. But she has always known that I would never leave her for some bimbo, and that has made us very happy now in our old age.” If memory serves, there was a long silence. Let’s face it. Being rich is not a crime, owning seven houses does not mean a man is not in touch with the poor, what is a crime is to drag the level of debate down to how many houses one owns. And, between you and me, the less houses and possessions one owns, the happier one is. My advice to McCain is to lose some of them, but not for the obvious reasons. There is nothing wrong with being rich as long as one has good manners, treats people worse off as equals, pays his taxes, serves in the armed forces, and puts America first. How many of the neocons fit this bill? Or journalists for that matter?  


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