Emily Post Would Be Horrified

I was scrolling through my Facebook feed the other day. One of my friends had posted a recent example of Donald Trump’s juvenile name-calling, and one of his friends had commented that “you can buy education, but you can’t buy class.”

So true.

Class doesn’t require money, or a privileged upbringing. There isn’t even a correlation. (Barack Obama oozed class; his “Look at me, I’m rich” successor is wholly without it.) In this usage, it refers to that old-fashioned thing we used to call manners.

Time Magazine recently had an article about Emily Post, whose name has come to be identified with proper decorum, and it reminded us that “good manners” don’t have anything to do with which fork to use or the proper way to address nobility. Post made it very clear that people who thought wealth or status entitled them to count themselves among the classy elite were wrong.

She insisted that good breeding was far more than knowledge of, and compliance with, the rules: “Best Society is not a fellowship of the wealthy, nor does it take to exclude those who are not of exulted birth; but it is an association of gentle folk, of which good form in speech, charm of manner, knowledge of the social amenities, and instinctive consideration for the feelings of others, are the credentials by which society the world over recognize it’s chosen members.”

It’s hard to read this description about who qualifies to be considered in Post’s “Best Society” without recognizing how completely it is at variance with the behavior of Donald Trump, who could never be accused of “good form” in speech, who is the antithesis of charm, who displays no knowledge of social amenities–and who has never publicly displayed the slightest consideration, instinctive or not, for the feelings of anyone.

[Post] also recommended ignoring “elephants at large in the garden,” otherwise known as wealthy know-it-alls: “Why a man, because he has millions, should assume they confer omniscience in all branches of knowledge, it something which may be left to the psychologist to answer.”

Emily Post, meet the Dunning-Kruger effect!

This is what confounds me: I understand partisanship; I understand that placing “conservatives” on the Court is important to religious fundamentalists, and that tax breaks are catnip to the greedy rich. I understand that Trump’s racist promises to expel immigrants and harass Muslims resonated with the substantial number of voters who are also racist.I am prepared to believe that people who wanted these outcomes held their noses and voted for the vulgarian who promised them.

But we have had three years of acute embarrassment, three years of Presidential behaviors that most people would punish their children for exhibiting. Is this the face of America that these voters want the world to see? Aside from the massive amounts of substantive harm being done by this buffoon and his corrupt and inept administration, there is the less quantifiable–but no less real– damage being done to America’s image, at home as well as abroad.

Our children see the head of state modeling behaviors we want them to avoid: bullying, lying, tantrums, self-aggrandizement, aggressive ignorance. (And if the President of the United States can’t spell or construct a grammatical or articulate sentence, why should they have to learn?)

Our allies are horrified–and wonder if this administration is an aberration, or whether America is no longer to be trusted.

And yet, his “base” continues to support him.

Emily Post would be appalled. I certainly am.


  1. His ‘base’ deny everything you just said. The world thinks more highly of us now that he’s in office – we’re so admired, so respected, so feared! The embarrassment was when that ‘other’ was in office, going around actually APOLOGIZING for the USA! How dare he! And him, barely human!

    The ‘base’ are absolutely beyond believe, and beyond redemption. Up is down, and you’ll never disabuse them of what they ‘know’ to be true.

  2. “you can buy education, but you can’t buy class”. Donald Trump’s father must have been taken to the cleaners.

  3. After Bill Clinton was not convicted only impeached and Hillary put peoples lives in jeopardy by breaking the espionage act conservatives today are holding firm to people that in the past they would have dusgarded. Many still would rather have Ted Cruz but found themselves voting against Hillary by electing Trump.
    Yesterday we saw a continuance of Congress thru the intelligence committee push for impeachment. So many hate Trump and his mannerisms they forget as President he has certain authorities given to him to pursue court cases in other countries whether or not that individual is a political opponent.
    The same abuse of words and unpolished nature has gotten him into a snare. The words “ do me a favor” are the words that are haunting him. His name calling is truly inexcusable and shows his opinion. He was a full blown liberal New Yorker Democrat that saw the left make a hard swing and he with all his mannerisms became attractive as politicians walked away from scandal after scandal.
    So many democrats within unions voted for him and had formerly voted for Obama. but as Obama stated you won’t lose your doctor or plan many voters felt the loss in their pocketbooks thru healthcare losses instead of gains.
    Many people agree Trump is a “clown” in the way he talks but are voting for their livelihoods and paychecks as leftist politicians keep pushing Medicare for all.
    His words are harsh but his policies some being not so conservative are pulling in moderates and conservatives have no where to go.
    Conservatives view liberals as fair but the new politics in the Democrat Party is a swing so hard left they are walking away. Trumps mannerisms are of no concern to say. Just shamefully embarrassing.

  4. John’s rationale for explaining why conservatives stick to Trump might make some sense if Trump had actually accomplished anything useful and productive. The economy has left Trump’s base behind(if it were vibrant, the Fed would not be lowering interest rates). The promises he made to the fossil fuel industry were not, and could not have been, kept. He’s had to bail out agriculture thanks to his crazy ideas about trade policies, and the bulk of the bailouts went to large agribusiness, not to the small farmers who voted for him. He has taken Dick Cheney’s concept of the “unitary” presidency to such extremes that he has to have the White House lawyers submitting comical briefs to the courts defending his right to do whatever he pleases, just be cause he is in the oval office.

    A person has to be myopic to believe that his time in office has been good for the country.

  5. John’s rationale is well written; grammar, punctuation and spelling letter perfect. He also used language which would make Emily Post find him well mannered and even showed some class in his lengthy diatribe making his full support of Trump’s presidency evidence his ignorance of all evidence of democracy, Rule of Law or upholding the Constitution. Emily Post was interested in the manner in which we deal with one another but, like the current Republican party, can overlook lies, devious behavior bordering on treasonous acts and supporting racism and bigotry with good manners…which we now see them losing in their efforts to continue to support their mentally incompetent “leader”. John appears to be one of those rare examples of an educated Trump supporter.

    “Our allies are horrified–and wonder if this administration is an aberration, or whether America is no longer to be trusted.”

    Have any of our allies read Emily Post? They have maintained composure and decorum as they suffer through Trump’s insults and loss of support by their once greatest ally; the United States of America.

  6. Every day is a further embarrassment. Tourism is down, trade is more lopsided than ever and getting worse, the economy is teetering with many working more than one job to make ends meet, our neighbors are either afraid of us or distance themselves from the craziness. The refuge that once brought us the world’s dreamers and doers has devolved into a death trap for many or a destructive, abusive scar of lifelong consequences because the bigots and greedy are in it strictly for themselves, everyone else be damned.

    “Christians” who embrace the behavior and egregious disdain for the “other”, are hypocrites, driving the younger generation away and milking the poor rubes who send hard-earned money to “save” the rest of us from sin and damnation. That log in their eye makes it hard to see the suffering they bring to their fellow men, women and children.

    With the lies, distortion and deflection being dished out every hour by the WH and the hardcore, lockstep Republicans who have no spine, integrity or ethics, the inquiry will do nothing to change the minds that are so closed to reason and facts. The saddest part is that even if he is impeached, Pence would pardon him in an instant and things would just remain the same or get worse. The ones who brought this on the country by voting for an uncouth and ignorant tyrant will still be out here in our communities, with even more conviction that they are entitled and victimized.

  7. Let me just assure John that if Hillary HAD violated the espionage act, she would definitely be in jail. She didn’t. You’ve been listening to the wrong news channels.

    I’d just like to quote the great Forrest Gump: “Stupid is as stupid does.”

  8. With all due respect, in so many ways The Duck is simply a reflection of our disintegrating culture, the 1980’s ME geometrically grown. Listen to the language that is now “everyday”. Look at the vulgar, violent images on our screens. Think how hard it is to find a book, TV show or movie that is about people caring. And this is not a social class thing; read the arts pages of the New York Times and the same thing called high art. Crassness sells; violence sells….

  9. On top of being eloquent, Emily Post played the man’s game in a man’s world, at the time, better than most men, and definitely better than her husband had.

    I think John has been reading a lot of Newsmax and Fox, LOL. That espionage horse died but they are still beating it.

    “WASHINGTON (Reuters) – In declining to seek prosecution of Hillary Clinton, FBI Director James Comey said the former Secretary of State’s handling of classified emails was “extremely careless” – conduct, legal experts said, that falls short of “gross negligence,” a standard for criminal charges under the Espionage Act.”

    Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists’ Project on Government Secrecy, said Clinton’s cooperation with FBI investigators also may have helped her avoid charges.

    “There was no obstruction of justice, no failure to cooperate truthfully with investigators, no concealment of her activity,” Aftergood said.

    Maybe Donald Trump should take note!

    As far as evangelicals following Donald Trump, there really is no excuse. Even hypocrisy doesn’t adequately explain what they are doing. Following a narcissistic rube as a Messiah, or as some have notably said, “God’s personification on earth?” LOL, they are not even what you would consider Christian, maybe they should be called Trumpian, because Christ is not even an afterthought anymore.

    Jesus Christ knew he was going to die a torturous death for the sake of all mankind, he didn’t cry, he didn’t try to run away, he exuded class. He had concern for widows, he had concern for the poor, he had concern for the fatherless child and the foreign resident, he encouraged love for your neighbor, he told his followers that they were to pay their taxes, “Caesar’s things to Caesar and God’s things to God” and that Christians were to respect the superior authorities. Unlike his replacement Donald Trump.

  10. It’s getting tiresome to keep beating this horse. The “president” represents 62 million people who are just like him whom they perceive as – because he conned their simple, self-absorbed minds – one of them. He is not….clearly. How many times have we heard MAGA hats say “He speaks his mind”. Really? That’s a mind?

    BUT I digress…. My beef is with the 92+ million voters who couldn’t bring themselves to vote against this damned fool because they didn’t like Hillary. Why didn’t they like Hillary? Because the con-machine got to them too. The Russians helped, of course, but vilifying Hillary Clinton was an extension of the Benghazi lies and bullshit perpetrated by the “do anything, ANYTHING to win” Republicans. They won the election alright, but it may have cost everyone their country, their democracy and their basic freedoms. I wonder what those 92 million sloths will say when they get thrown in jail for speaking out against the abject unfairness and utter stupidity of the Trump administration.

    Class? Trump has NO class. He thinks he is a class. If he was in my class, he’d be standing in the corner smelling ammonia fumes all day.

  11. John – The Democratic Party has not “swung to the left,” and Medicare for All is not a leftist policy. Many single payer countries have maintained their single payer coverages with governments that swing backwards and forth from conservative through liberal. (UK, Canada, et al.) As for swinging of the Democratic Party to the left, propaganda which the WSJ and libertarian (aka Republican) interests are pushing, such is an illusion since the Democratic Party has only seemed to move left by contrast with the libertarian (Republican) Party, which has gone over the right wing cliff. Ronald Reagan and Barry Goldwater, no lefties, would have looked leftish by such comparison.

    I for one am not taken in by Wall Street and Koch propaganda designed to maintain the status quo with their wage and wealth inequality, carried interest for hedge and equity fund operators, and Chapter 11 goodies for corporations with which to rearrange their assets, stiffing their workers on labor contracts and pensions in the process, along with their plain but unstated view that it’s all right to employ legislation to get rich but not all right to employ legislation that would tax their wealth thus acquired, wealth not acquired through merit but by political connivance. Reform of such a situation is not a leftish view; it is a fairness view, and a wealth tax on the superrich is endorsed by leading economists ranging from Piketty through Krugman. It is especially a good idea these days with a 23 trillion dollar long term deficit increasing as a current budget deficit rate of a trillion dollars per annum (thanks to Trump’s big tax cut for the rich of December, 2017).

    My favorite candidate at the moment, Elizabeth Warren, is being painted by the superrich as a lefty. She is not. She is rather an FDR New Deal Democrat who, like FDR, is interested in reinstituting fairness into the economy, just as FDR did in the midst of a hair-raising Great Depression. To do so will require regulation of immensely large and monopolistic corporations which, of course, is a non-starter for corporatists but a necessary one if capitalism is to survive. Their terminal greed may otherwise be their undoing, which has prompted me to write elsewhere, as I often do, that I am trying to save capitalism, if the capitalists will let me.

  12. I read your essay this morning and then went to the Times article. I finished reading it just as Stephanie Ruhle on MSNBC was having a discussion on the lack of and need for CIVILITY in these times.
    As a child in the early 1960’s I remember newspaper columns offering advice from Emily Post’s book. I grew up with most of the basic behavioral expectations and STILL write Thank You notes.

    We desperately need Emily Post today and yet the far right will label it “elitist”.
    Is it – really ?!?!?
    I think it’s just common human decency but, every Trumpist policy – and those who call themselves Republican – violates every standard “common human” decency.

  13. Per “Rethinking Polarization” by Rauch in National Affairs”

    “In may 2016, a motorist named Cassy McWade had an accident on the interstate in western North Carolina and called her mechanic for a tow. The mechanic couldn’t come, so he sent a friend from another company. In due course, Ken Shupe, of Shupee Max Towing, reached her, but as he began preparing to tow her car, he noticed a Bernie Sanders sticker on the bumper. Shupe was a Trump supporter. He told McWade he would not accept her business, suggested (by one account) that she call the government for help, and drove away.

    “I’m really not interested in doing business with that clientele,” he later told the local TV news station, WLOS. Asked if he thought it was fair to leave a motorist stranded, he replied, “It’s not fair, but it’s the norm nowadays. It’s the world in which we live.”

    Politics is easy – culture is hard.

  14. John writes: “Many people agree Trump is a “clown” in the way he talks but are voting for their livelihoods and paychecks as leftist politicians keep pushing Medicare for all.”

    First a clown is funny, except if you are Pennywise from the Steven King novel It. The Atlantic said of the character; “the scariest thing about Pennywise, though, is how he preys on children’s deepest fears, manifesting the monsters they’re most petrified by. President Agent Orange preys on adults minds with fear of “fill in the blank” monsters.

    OMG -Medicare for All, oh the horror of Medicare for All. Imagine every American with health coverage – No Deductibles- No Co-Pays-No in or out of Network – No Bill Collectors calling you to pay a bill – No Bankruptcies if you cannot pay your Medical Bills. You would not be at the mercy of your employer for Health Care Coverage or some Claim’s Adjuster looking for ways to deny health coverage.

    Oh those poor people in Canada, France, Germany, Japan or the UK who have universal health care coverage.

  15. Trump has two standout qualifications for his position in society. He inherited wealth. That’s not something that he had anything to do with. He’s a performer with no noteworthy talent like the Kardashians. He was born in an era where the business of entertainment had created a new kind of expertise called celebrity. He was born into it. He took maximum advantage of the little talent he had in that field that valued what he did have.

    Other than that he is of no account.

    He was born at a time when our society was in a state of great upheaval. A sorting out. A time of rapid progress brought on by explosive population growth to beyond the limits of sustainability by earth. A time when the provision of what seemed like limitless energy had freed society from doing work, but created a whole new category of thinking about work. Software. Machines that are more capable than humans of doing endless repetitive precise motion with loads of every mass. Even driving was put on the verge of something machines do better than humans. A large segment of industrialized society was put out to pasture.

    So people who were raised in a culture of loud and proud and rude and crude and of previous times became without purpose. They needed a messiah to recreate the times in which they mattered.

    In came loud and proud, rude and crude Donald searching to replace the inherited wealth he had mostly lost through ill considered high risk poorly managed business deals. It was a marriage made in heaven.

    Here’s the problem. We as a culture being upheaved need leaders who know the past, see the future and create paths between them that work for the most people. He’s not one of them.

    The people who find themselves between purposes at the moment found someone who they can relate to and fell for his celebrity even though he can’t help them in any way find what they had and lost and need to replace.

  16. Trump a celebrity, a star? I object to that.

    If you call Gene Rayburn a celebrity or a star, what do you call Bob Barker or Dick Clark? If you call John Enos III (Phonebooth) a celebrity or a star, what do you call John Wayne? If you call Tom Kirwin (Country/folk singer) a celebrity or a star, what do you call Elvis Presley? If you call Andre Carson (representative) a celebrity or a star, what do you call Barack Obama?

    Trump is no star or celebrity, but he might become as infamous as Santo Trafficante.

    Every time we refer to him, sarcastically or critically, as merely a celebrity or a star, we carelessly put another feather in his hat.

  17. To me “celebrity” implies only public attention. Perhaps there used to be some connotation of being good at something but sadly public relations professionals can be hired now to put anyone in that category.

  18. ”Ms. Clinton violated 18 USC 793, by transferring and storing highly classified information on her private server, and thereby delivering it or making it available to unauthorized persons, such as the technicians who setup and maintained her server,”…
    Politicians always circle the wagons and people who love her do too. She was voted off the Water gate panel for wanting To deny Nixon representation yet we’re still bending over backwards for her, sorry that’s embarrassing.
    In regards to Medicare for all, there are good points and bad points to that argument. You can’t rationalize away the rationing of healthcare. Canadians do cross over and pay out of pocket for healthcare. In my own case I’ve paid $150,00 in healthcare costs that the government in no way would condone because it’s deemed alternative. And I would argue that if the government were in control totally that wouldn’t be available at all. When the government has total control of healthcare they have control of the citizenry. Also, They’re no longer just regulating, they’re deciding for you, that’s rationing in order to make it cost worthy or cost effective.
    CNN was talking down the stick market this morning “amidst concerns over the economy” and the Dow hits an all time high. Hmm.
    If I were to run for office it would be as a Democrat who values capitalism because it has provided me with blue collar opportunities.
    Furthermore, I dont understand how one can claim they want to save capitalism by giving government control over the economy which actually is creating more socialism driving down personal incentive slowing down the economy they wanted to save. Our founders saw that the demise of our government would come when we understood we could borrow against ourselves.
    Bush $ 3 trillion ( according to Obama)
    Obama $ 10 trillion and now Trump $3 trillion and counting.

Comments are closed.