Timothy Egan, liberal New York Times reporter turned left-wing Times columnist, made the Friday edition accusing some conservative Republicans born disadvantaged as being "Traitors to Their Class." Egan's columns are typically online only, but evidently the paper liked this one enough to feature in print.
One can see why; it has the easy, superior mockery of Republicans who grew up poor but have the audacity to insist on free market solutions to poverty (as opposed to threatening jobs with a minimum-wage hike) with a bloody Marxist edge: Not only are these Republicans wrong about economics, but they're "traitors to their class" who "actively despise the poor."
You probably know from his weepy reminiscences that the speaker of the House, John Boehner, once worked as a bartender and a janitor, and took seven years to get out of college. Maybe you’ve heard that Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin is a preacher’s son who churned out burgers and fries at McDonald’s. And you had to catch that bit from Senator Joni Ernst about putting bread bags over her shoes while growing up kind of poor in rural Iowa.
People from humble beginnings often carry an extra load of empathy through the success of their later lives, a sense that, with a few bad breaks, things could have gone the other way.
And there’s the party of tough luck, pal. In the case of the three Republican leaders cited above, and most of those who aspire to be the G.O.P. presidential nominee next year, these Horatio Algerians for the new Gilded Age are working to keep the downtrodden down. They are traitors to their class, with all the strutting moral superiority that comes with the conversion.
Ernst, the lump-of-coal-hearted new senator from Iowa, and Walker, who always seems to be promoting something that needs actuarial tables to disguise, at times sound as if they actively despise the poor.
Gov. Walker earned Egan's enmity for having failed to raise the minimum wage in Wisconsin.
Meanwhile, Walker’s low-wage fortress of Wisconsin lags behind the national average in job creation. If paying people next to nothing at the entry level were such a design for growth, employers would be flocking to the Badger State. Even Walmart, which built the original business model for how to make billions on the backs of people who need state assistance for the basic things in life, will soon be paying its serfs more than Scott Walker thinks is necessary to live on.
Walmart's low prices and job creation have done more to help the poor than ten million self-righteous editorials from Egan's ilk.
Senator Ernst loves to talk about growing up in the rosy patina of near-poverty. “My mom made all our clothes,” she wrote on her campaign website. “We went to church every week, helped our neighbors when they needed it, and they did the same for us.”
See, you deadbeats: Why can’t you just stitch together your own clothes and grab an extra chicken wing at the church picnic if you’re hungry? Of course, she opposed raising Iowa’s minimum wage. And she thinks subsidizing health care for lower-middle-class families is a terrible idea. She’s working, with most Republicans in Congress, to take away health care for millions of Americans.
So where is this coming from? The class traitors guiding the Republican Party, and the harsh new federal budget unveiled this week, usually promote their policies using personal anecdotes. Their condescension toward the poor springs from their own narratives: They are virtuous because they made it, or vice versa. Those who haven’t made a similar leap are weaklings. It’s a variant of Mitt Romney’s view that 47 percent of Americans are moochers. Stripped to its essence, it’s a load of loathing for their former class, delivered on a plate of platitudes.
Egan has previously used his Times perch to relentlessly mock Republican "crazies."