Emerson cites a pretentious snob | Letters
November 16, 2012 · Updated 3:16 PM
The name droppers are at it again. It’s an ancient art of deception akin to that of profane swearing.
I find it amusing that anyone would want to cloak themselves in the memory of William F. Buckley as Commissioner Emerson did in the Sound Off column. Ever notice how people can be resurrected to suit anyone’s idea of sainthood if enough time has elapsed for the public to forget the truth? Actor Ronald Reagan is one that gets remade by those who forgot how he started out as a union president but changed for a higher paying script. He campaigned on a platform of lowering taxes, but only did it for his rich buddies while quietly shifting the tax load onto the working class by raising the California sales tax (then the state’s biggest income source) a whopping 50 percent. He, too, cited William F. Buckley as his wizard-in-chief while castigating those who complained about the double-cross by declaring on his weekly radio broadcast that “taxes should hurt” (as reported by our local newspaper).
How interesting that no one seems to recall that part, probably because he quickly quit saying it when someone got a peek at his income tax statements and leaked that “the Gipper” didn’t pay one red cent of tax for two years on his 1960s yearly income of $2 million (more like $8 million in today’s money). As a California state employee at the time, I found Reagan’s problem solving talents to be like his “trickle down economics” that didn’t. All he did was cut budgets and tell others to solve the problems themselves. Then he sat back and criticized the pandemonium he caused while getting his own salary increased to the tune of 30 percent in each of his gubernatorial terms. California had to build him a new governor’s mansion because “Nancy won’t live in that old claptrap.”
So how about this William F. Buckley guy? I watched a few of his “Firing Line” TV programs and found him to be the ultimate pretentious snob. As the son of an oil baron, he never had to do a day’s work in his life — and probably didn’t. His familiar pose was one of recumbent repose as, with airs of lofty superiority, he drippingly denounced less fortunate people with all the biggest words he could find in the dictionary. He was a smug pseudo-intellectual who loathed anyone less articulate than what he became as the Yale Yeller of the Yale Debate Team … which we presume is where his daddy sent him. Daddy’s money gave him opportunity to hobnob with royalty.
But it was all empty word games from someone who never had to come home tired and worn out from a hard day’s toil, never knew firsthand how the rubber met the road nor how a shovel dug the dirt. He would claim righteous superiority arguing ardent support for Sen. Eugene McCarthy who went on a rampage accusing any and everyone who disagreed with him of being a treasonous “commie” or “pinko” merely because they had some genuine sensitivities and dared to stand up and say so … or worse, sing about it. He argued for “white supremacy” in the southern states, which of course was before he decided to denounce it. I suppose one could find a quote of his to support nearly any cause or principle one wants if one just dug deep enough to find it.
Like hypocrisy, name dropping seems to be alive and well. It’s an easy way to pretend to be what one can imagine someone else was. It probably works as long as no one remembers the rest of the story about the names being dropped.
One sure couldn’t say any of this about our other commissioners, Angie Homola or Helen Price Johnson, who have been in the trenches and often behind the scenes as some of the hardest working problem solvers in recent times.