Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, August 8, 2021

Lisa Birnbach v. Tucker Carlson: Is an Actual Preppy Discussion Possible?


A reader sent in:

Muffy, Thank you for your work on SWNE.  I thought of you and the SWNE community when I read this morning's Washington Post piece by Lisa Birnbach called "Tucker Carlson’s many, many sins against the preppy code" <https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/tucker-carlson-preppy-honor/2021/08/05/4ce2bca4-f569-11eb-9738-8395ec2a44e7_story.html>. 

I wonder if it is possible in this day and age to reflect on this piece in a way that epitomizes the best of actual preppy culture?  Can we avoid the social media trap and not be hypocritical and instead role model the best prep school writing lessons in our thoughts?

As always, if this gets posted, I would hope our moderator filters out any comments not worthy of this challenge. 


Editor's note:  The piece is behind the firewall, so I am afraid it is for Washington Post subscribers only. Moreover, it reads a bit like click-bait and troll-bait for both sides of the aisle, so those who do not have access are missing very little.    

         

   

43 comments:

  1. Why include the link? If one is NOT a subscriber to the WAPO, then one cannot read the article!

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  2. Can't get past the WP sign in link

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  3. Why would I ever pay to read the WP ???? PBH

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  4. Can't one of the many readers of this blog who can get behind/beyond the firewall just copy-paste it for us frugal New Englanders?

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  5. I was able to access the article through Pressreader, lisa birnbach

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  6. No need to read the article (I did anyway)-- any criticism of Mr. Carlson is invariably from unhappy radical leftists who can't tolerate opposing viewpoints.

    Free speech used to have two sides, now it's just one side trying to demonize, and silence the other.

    And Ms. Birnbach is probably right when she claims that Tucker would not fit into his alma mater, St. George's, today. The indoctrinated preppy kids there are now probably brainwashed, and can't tell the difference between truth and lies, right and wrong, and can only regurgitate the agitprop they're being spoon fed 24/7.

    Tucker Carlson is obviously a happy man who isn't afraid to speak the truth, and is therefore a dangerous threat. Reminds me of Winston Smith's colleague in "1984": "He thought too clearly, and spoke too plainly. The Party did not like such men. Someday he would disappear. You could see it in his face."

    Besides, everyone knows that the current Washington Post has degenerated into the world's best birdcage liner -- along with the doleful New York Times.

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    1. Marjorie Taylor Greene has entered the chat.

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    2. The opinion piece is worth reading. Unfortunate that it's not immediately accessible for non-WP readers, but I'm sure it will appear elsewhere Online. Carlson is not a simple curmudgeon, or a neo-William F. Buckley. He depends on controversy and anger to maintain his gig on FOX. There are codes within the Trad ethos, and Carlson (and Reichardt) apparently subscribe only to the external manifestations of clothing. Anyone with a credit card can follow suit.

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    3. Before defending Mr. Tucker with such ardor, I recommend you to review his track record of truth-telling (Politifact is a recognized fact-checking source). He is a blatant charlatan.

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  7. Two words, Tucker: noblesse oblige. He's no better than Greene.

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  8. Am a subscriber to WAPO as well as NYT -- the article is worth the read!

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  9. Ms. Birnbach is right. And I'd take any of my fellow graduates of our cotton-mill town public school over ten Tucker Carlsons.

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  10. There is no such thing as "preppy culture," something you would think Lisa Birnbach, as co-author and editor of "The Official Preppy Handbook" would know. "Preppy" is a style of dress, a fashion, not a "culture." It belongs neither to Left nor Right, Progressive nor Republican. To suggest otherwise, and to insist, as Ms. Birnbach does in here article, that to be a "preppy" one must adopt or hold certain political views is not only wrong and misguided, but offensive.

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    1. Agree wholeheartedly that "Preppy" does not belong to a political party. If you read the book, you will remember that if your family is Democrat, you are a Democrat and vice versa. However, preppy IS a culture, not simply a style or fashion. Preppy culture is a way of being and that is understated, well-mannered, and out of the papers except for birth, wedding, and death announcements. I know full-on preps that do not dress preppy, and vice versa. It is how one behaves and carries themselves, in public and in private.

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    2. Prep is a subculture and subcultures are inherently political. To dress this way is to say, "I was raised in a certain way."

      I respect the idealism behind your post, but I also think that the tendency towards modern neoliberalism is an implied part of participating in the prep subculture.

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    3. Preppy is a fashion born of a mindset manifested in a lifestyle. There are values attached: dignity, the value and power of thought, ethics, hard work, aesthetics, appreciation of all things classic, and the dogged pursuit of excellence.

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  11. There are two sides to television. Those who produce it do so for the money. Those who watch it do so for the entertainment. I'm pretty sure Tucker Carlson understands this. I don't think what he is doing is inherently preppy or un-preppy.

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  12. So, to be a member in good standing of the American upper middle class, one must be a doctrinaire Leftist or be ostracized by those who tolerate no other beliefs? Nonsense. It should not be surprising to Ms. Birnbach that there are conservatives like Mr. Carlson—and lots of them—among her class. Commerce, education, and love of our country and the American way of life made this class what it is. Sailboats, Volvos, and expensive private schools are hardly the fruits of socialism, yet some people who enjoy those benefits can’t stop themselves from proclaiming their social and ethical superiority while championing alien ideologies. Should real Marxists ever take over, most of us reading this page would be put up against a wall and shot.


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    1. Tucker Carlson today is light years away from his days at the Weekly Standard, where neo-conservatism and libertarians could coexist. Today, he is one of the prominent figures in a growing political trend in several countries --neo-fascism, also known as the Alt Right. Over the week-end, he spoke at the MCC Feszt Conference in Budapest, which is linked to Hungarian authoritarian president Viktor Orban. No defense of free speech in Hungary´s "non-liberal democracy," which is how Orban defines his country´s present political situation. As a matter of fact, the Orban regime has taken numerous steps to eliminate free speech and independent journalism. The fact that Carlson favors traditional Ivy League clothing does not detract from the fact that that he stands for an ideological trend that is contrary to liberal democracy. Sir Oswald Mosley was always impeccably dressed. He was also the the leader of the British Union of Fascists.

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  13. Storming the Capitol and killing some of its police officers is not patriotic or the American way. Nor is the revolting lack of shame exhibited by a disappointing number of conservatives and their broadcast hucksters.

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  14. Money and privilege do not ensure honor and civility. What is left of this topic is simply politics.

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    1. ^ And, as George Kennan said, "politics is not the channel through which men's noblest impulses are to be realized." Or as Oakeshott more forcefully put it, "politics are an inferior form of human activity."

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  15. I have several golfing friends who worship the likes of a Rush Limbaugh and a Tucker Carlson, all of them intelligent, educated and patriotic people. When Obama was president, however, they would refer to him in the vilest of racial terms hoping to get a rise out of me. But there's no point trying to change someone's thinking other than by example, and that usually doesn't work. I did find it useful during a skins game to mention Obama admiringly just before any of them teed off, which invariably resulted in hooks, slices and the occasional shank. Maybe I should invoke Rachel Maddow just to see what happens.

    MGC

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    1. MGC

      And yet they still agree to play golf with you.

      Will

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    2. I can assure you they are never at a loss for competitive trash talk and we have remained good friends for a quarter century, perhaps a small example of disagreement never getting disagreeable.

      MGC

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  16. It would seem that Lisa Birnbach is presently short of money. Hence this article. It contains all the right leftist buzz words. I expect she's angling for a specific job in media. I'm curious to see where she ends up working.

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    1. After "True Prep," she deserves never to work again in anything involving the written word.

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    2. Oh, I don't anyone ever has enough money.

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  17. I find the constant return to political divides sad on several levels. It is sad because it almost never gets to agreement on any underlying facts, a necessary predicate to meaningful debate. It is sad because we are generally in agreement on vastly more, and the political barbs obscure that fact. I think Tucker should go back to bow ties. They are a great look.

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  18. Why don't any of these people on TV ever wear button down collars?

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    1. Chris Matthews did all the time

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  19. I like his collars, as well as his politics. It is my understanding they are tennis collars from Mercer and Son. He's even inspired me to occasionally put on a point collar shirt.

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    1. I also like the way he dresses. I've always admired that about him. But I would be careful about assuming we know what his politics are. He's in the television business, which means he's in the ratings business. There's no way to know whether he means what he says on TV.

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    2. ratings and
      $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

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  20. Our girls went to summer camp with two of the Carlsons' girls for several years. Their children are nice, and they seem to be good parents. He dresses preppy.

    Carlson's media career as an interesting and somewhat independent guy was marked by mediocre ratings until he opportunistically took over Bill O'Reilly's gig after sex harassment destroyed O'Reilly's career. That meant a huge contract, ad dollars and audience for whoever stepped in to purvey hard-right conservative opinions. I'm sure Carlson is smart enough to know the conspiracy theories and nativism he embraces are what sells, as opposed to what can be factually supported or proved.

    His persistent mixed messages and groundless critiques about a deadly virus and a demonstrably effective vaccine irk me. I participated in one of those vaccine trials, months before they were authorized, because i felt some responsibility to help people survive a deadly virus. i wish he would take the same responsibility, rather than causing people to question the vaccine & expose them to the increased risk of severe illness and death.

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  21. I thoroughly enjoyed how she dressed him down, especially related to his displays of honor, respect, truth, and decency.  She made fun of him very fittingly, and I'd say he needs bigger khakis for his ever expanding ass-inine remarks and a larger Brown BB cap for his oversized ego.  "Preppy" comes in all shapes and sizes, of course, as people evolve and change through the years.  It's just troubling "good values" have become blurred when we should see, must see clearly what's in front of us.  People insist it's "politics."  I don't agree entirely.  Now, it's very much about values, too.

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  22. I know that Mr. Carlson is a pundit of a particular political stripe, and that Ms. Birnbach is, shall we say, “across the aisle”, but what a shame that the differences in their politics has colored the discourse in this particular site.

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  23. Ms. Birnbach claims to be the "de facto commissioner of prepdom". Outside of her "it's all about me" mind, who says she gets to define prepdom for anyone but herself?
    The question proposed does not have a clear definition of what is meant by preppy. To respond to that question, one would need to define what they mean by preppy. A few of the educated, as opposed to schooled, responders have done that.
    I enjoy coming to this site to get lifestyle ideas and to get away from politics. I hope that you will not allow SWNE to devolve into just another political opinion website.
    Sincerely,
    A Fan.

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  24. I knew Lisa and the kids she used for photos in the Preppy Handbook way back in time. Some of the kids were fairly prepped out at Yale at that time, most were not - they were just posing from Lisa. Lisa herself of course was not Preppy, but instead was a young woman from different heritage trying to pass into the Preppy world she had been exposed to. Her 'take' on what she saw was one part scarcasm, one part adoration and one part utterly mis-informed. Those of us who were at Yale during this period consider her to be nothing more that an ill-informed, third-rate publicist.

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    1. Her book was satire and not an actual sartorial bible. She attended prep school in NYC and then graduated from Brown, an Ivy. When you say different "heritage" do you mean because she is Jewish?

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