Monday, November 20, 2017


Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin was widely criticized after he and his wife were photographed happily brandishing a sheet of uncut dollar bills. Mnuchin's dismissal of some of the criticism is peculiar:
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin on Sunday said he takes it as a compliment that some people suggested that he and his wife looked like villains from a "James Bond" movie when they posed with newly printed currency.

“I never thought I’d be quoted as looking like villains from the 'James Bond' [movies]. I guess I should take that as a compliment that I look like a villain in a great, successful 'James Bond' movie,” Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday."
When ordinary humans refer to a real person as a Bond villain, we mean that the person seems like an outsize caricature of an evil person but is actually evil. But to Mnuchin -- who in his previous life was a executive producer of dozens of movies -- everything is content. He's being compared to a character in a film series that does boffo B.O. -- so it's all good!

Is this a rich guy's indifference to the concerns and fears of the peasants? Is it some variety of autistic-spectrum tunnel vision? I think it's a combination of the two. In any case, I don't expect any empathy from Mnuchin. I don't think he's capable of it.


Erik Loomis writes:
Only in the New Gilded Age would a high official see himself and his wife photographed as vile kleptocrats, be compared to the villains in Bond movies, and take the comparison as a compliment.
Yes, but Mnuchin is not the first member of a Republican administration to proclaim an affinity with a fictional character who lacks basic human decency. Remember White House counselor Edwin Meese's December 1983 National Press Club speech?
The presidential aide ... surprised the audience by concluding his speech by defending Scrooge, the fictional character in Charles Dickens,' 'A Christmas Carol,' who overworks and underpays employee Bob Cratchit.

The crowd gasped as Meese -- without indicating in any way that he was joking -- said:

'Scrooge had a bad press in his time. If you really look at the facts, he didn't exploit Bob Cratchit. As a matter of fact, Bob Cratchit was paid 10 shillings a week -- which was a very good wage at that time.

'Furthermore, the free market would not allow Scrooge to exploit poor Bob. England didn't get free public schools until after Dickens was dead. So that the fact Bob Cratchit could read and write made him a very valuable clerk.

'He had good cause to be happy with his situation. His wife didn't have to work. He was able to afford the traditional Christmas dinner of roast goose and plum pudding.

'So let's be fair to Scrooge. He had his faults, but he wasn't unfair to anyone,' Meese said.
Eleven months later, the president Meese served, Ronald Reagan, won reelection in a 49-state landslide.

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