Sons of privilege

Broadsides from the pirate captain of the Jet Set

Text settings

New York

I was a bit tough on American women last week, but when I sat down to write I hadn’t as yet heard of Michael Bergin. Now I have, and I take everything back. Give me a shrill woman talking about whitening her teeth any day. Bergin is the lowlife who has just published a book about Carolyn Bessette, the wife of John Kennedy, who died along with him and her sister in an aeroplane accident five years ago. Mind you, in this Murdochian age, nothing surprises me, but writing about having sex with a woman who cannot answer back, and who died as tragically as she did, must have Dante turning in his grave. If anyone deserves a new circle of hell, it’s this scumbag. Still, Bergin has been ubiquitous in pushing his filthy opus, the pseudo scribe raking over the ashes of the two dead celebrities.

Is Bergin worse than those who write about Princess Diana or Princess Grace? Not really. Andrew Morton has been robbing Diana’s grave for years, and that other ‘gent’, who pretended to play polo for a while, has enriched himself like the greedy hyena that he is by assassinating Grace Kelly’s reputation. (I cannot remember his name, but what I do remember is that he ran out of moolah trying to play the gentleman.) The Kennedys, of course, have never been accused of being gents, except for the dead John-John. Heaven knows, I’m no friend of those Irish brutes and bullies, but isn’t it strange that the only gent among them is the one now described as a cuckold and a fool? And speaking of gents, a new book about the WASP ruling class of the Fifties sure brought back memories, mostly unpleasant ones.

The Guardians is about the liberal ruling class of Yale and Harvard during the Forties, people like McGeorge Bundy, Kingman Brewster, John Lindsay, Cyrus Vance and Elliot Richardson, all WASPS, all liberals, all members of the establishment, all of them responsible for America’s failure both in Vietnam and in social engineering. These sons of privilege had a sense of entitlement à la Kennedy, running roughshod over conservative Republican values as far as race and poverty were concerned. They were tapped at birth to ruin the country, as William F. Buckley Jr put it in his seminal God and Man at Yale.

Brewster, who was president of Yale and presided over that great institution’s nadir — when he voiced agreement with Black Panthers protesting about the trial of the thug Bobby Seale — seems to have done the most harm. Turning a great university into a hotbed of radicalism is just short of a capital offence. Lindsay, and his high-tax and spend policies, did New York City in, while Bundy took care of Vietnam. Mind you, they all started with good intentions, but in the end all they ensured was that they became the last generation of the establishment. Not unlike today’s Tory party, which cannot decide whether they’re true Tories or Tony Blair’s poodles.

So much for our culture. On one side you’ve got an aging Calvin Klein underwear model writing about a dead young woman and what he did in bed with her, on the other a bunch of privileged members of the establishment playing at social engineering and really f****** up. The scavengers vs the nobs but with the same results. Sleaze and failure.

Oh yes, I almost forgot. Serena Williams, the tennis star, is the first US athlete to admit considering passing on the Olympic Games this summer because her personal safety comes first. ‘My security and my safety and my life are a little bit more important than tennis,’ said Williams recently. Give her the Thermopylae prize for courage, say I. American athletes will be protected by State Department security officers as well as Greek police and the army. La Williams should feel as safe as anyone, but the moolah simply ain’t there. Who the hell needs to compete in the Olympics for glory alone? (Plus a hefty expense account, and so on.) Other nervous American heroes include NBA stars, those seven-foot-tall freaks who are professional basketball players. I suppose multimillionaires take fewer risks than poorer souls, but this is getting ridiculous. If only Avery Brundage were still running the show you’d get to see some great Olympics this summer. But that’s like wishing to bring back sportsmanship, the old college try, and competition among gentlemen.

Personally, I don’t give a damn. I’m going to Athens on my boat with some true amateur sportsmen, and my only worry is the security. There will be so much of it, I will probably not be allowed to sail anywhere near the capital. Although I’ve got tickets to the three events I wish to see — the Judo competition, the 200 metres and the Pankration — getting to the sights will be a Herculean task. I’m seriously thinking of hiring some Yalie of the Forties to help me out.