Sunday, April 27, 2014

AMY CHOZICK VS. AMERICA'S REAL ELITISTS

Amy Chozick reviewed Elizabeth Warren's book for The New York Times, mostly favorably, but this sentence annoyed me:
Warren mostly avoids the overheated rhetoric associated with some well-heeled progressives; her vernacular is more Nick at Nite than The Nation.
What is "well-heeled" doing in that sentence, and what the hell does it have to do with prose, or at least the prose of progressives?

I mean, obviously Chozick is thinking of Katrina vanden Heuvel, whose maternal grandfather was an entertainment mogul, and whose parents were, respectively, a businessman/ambassador/JFK aide and a writer who, most notably, worked with George Plimpton. But what does Chozick know about the typical Nation writer?

I'm looking at the bylines on The Nation's homepage. Let's see -- Gary Younge?
Younge was born in Hitchin, Hertfordshire, UK, to immigrant parents from Barbados and grew up in Stevenage. When he was 17, he went to teach English in a United Nations Eritrean refugee school in Sudan with Project Trust. On his return, he went to Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh, where he studied French and Russian, Translating and Interpreting. He went on to study at City University, London, gaining a post-graduate Diploma in Journalism in 1993.
Sounds like a real one-percenter, no? How about John Nichols?
John Harrison Nichols was born Feb. 3, 1959, in Racine, Wisconsin, the oldest of three children. The family lived in nearby Union Grove, where his parents still reside. He had club feet, which the local pediatrician treated successfully with casts before age two....

Dad was the Union Grove village attorney; Mom was a former teacher and librarian....

Nichols' fellow students were mostly either farm kids or had parents working at Kenosha's American Motors plant or the Case plant in Racine....

Nichols elected to go to college at nearby UW-Parkside, in part because it had an excellent program in labor history. He also lived at home, having no desire to escape the homestead....
Another one-percenter! (Union Grove, by the way, is a village of under 5,000 people. I suspect you didn't have to be a white-shoe lawyer to be the town attorney.)

Oh, I know: Chris Hayes! What about that guy?
Hayes hails from the Bronx, where his Italian-American mother grew up, the daughter of a delicatessen owner. His father found his way to New York from Chicago via the Jesuits, while studying for the priesthood. While in seminary, his Irish-American father, Roger Hayes, did his first community organizing "for people who had trained with Alinsky," Hayes says with a chuckle....

Today his parents both work for the City of New York: Geri, a former schoolteacher, works for the NYC Department of Education, and Roger, after many years of community organizing, does health advocacy work in East Harlem for the NYC Department of Health.
Hayes may make nice money now that he's on Tv, but I wouldn't say that about the others. In any case, it's an odd criticism, particularly from a writer who's married to a Goldman Sachs vice president. How would Chozick say that affects her "rhetoric"?

9 comments:

trnc said...

I thought she was referring to tone of the writing rather than upbringing of the authors, where The Nation represents more biting commentary. But even if that's correct, I'm not sure Nick at Nite is the best analogy.

Victor said...

More like HBO, SHOWTIME, or STARZ, than"The Nation!

Steve M. said...

"Well-heeled" modifies "progressives," so I assume she means they write a certain way because they're rich swells.

Mike McCarthy said...


It's a common right wing attack - for some reason they think it hypocritical to have money and to think about the welfare of those who don't. I don't know if this woman is a RWer though so maybe it's just an empty adjective.

shwellthanksh said...

It's not really about The Nation, though your point is valid. Just look at her mission instruction sheet: she's an ex-WSJ hack on longterm assignment as a Hillary/2016 oppo-research panty-sniffer.
Still stinging from the Romney embarrassment and the Bloomberg debacle, the whole piece is a desperate search for any hint of a chance to play the "fancy talkin' blueblood liberal" card. After all, the last time they can remember any sort of success it was when they played this shit on Al Gore and John Kerry.

Warren Terra said...

I am reminded of a quote from the late, great Molly Ivins, writing about contributing to The Nation a couple of (low-inflation) decades ago:

""Victor Navasky, the world's cheapest editor, several years ago talked me into writing "Letters From Texas" for the incurably progressive Nation magazine. Calvin Trillin does not lie: Navasky pays in the high two figures. Damned if I know why I still consider it an honor to write for his silly old magazine - maybe because The Nation is still the most provocative political journal in America.""

I have a lot of problems with van den Heuvel (she is too connected to the world of modern celebrity, and she co-writes with her husband the stupidest things about Russia), but I suspect the first part of that Ivins quote still applies, and likely the second as well.

PS it's irritating that I can't use the blockquote tag here.

flipyrwhig said...

Sounds like it's supposed to mean that limousine liberals play-act at militancy, but Elizabeth Warren is neither well-heeled nor faux-militant. But I don't know who she thinks the well-heeled faux militants are. Maybe Howard Dean?

Cirze said...

"Thinking" is not what she was about in this hit piece, although the knowledge that she's married to a Goldman Sexer VP is telling as to word choice.

"Well-heeled" is an adjective far more in use at the real elitist rags like the WSJ than at The Nation, I would surmise.

Roger said...

Maybe she's illiterate and thinks that The Nation has a good health plan.