SNIFFING AT TRUMP: Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter and the elite’s anti-Trump puritanism, as explored by Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard:

[P]uritanical is precisely the tone of the Trump haters on the left. (We Trump haters on the right are another story.) But why? Consider Trump himself. Here’s a man who’s famous for his wide-ranging sex life, his disdain for conventional marriage, his eager embrace of divorce, his public use of profanity, his non-judgmental attitude toward unconventional sexual minorities—a man whose way of life seems unrestrained by religious impulses of any kind—a man who, in short, is a walking summation of our present-day cultural principles. Yet on each of these scores, from his many marriages to his cursing in public, he is vilified by journalists, politicos, TV starlets, right thinkers of every kind. After years of egging on potty-mouthed rappers and scolding religious believers, our cultural guardians suddenly sound like the General Conference of Methodist Bishops circa 1922.

A case in point is an article in the November number of Vanity Fair by the magazine’s editor, a man named Graydon Carter. He is best known for…well, not much. Carter helped found Spy magazine in the 1980s, and for the last twenty-some years he has filled his present magazine with more than enough throne-sniffing and celebrity-whoring to keep advertisers and a certain kind of reader happy. Also, to judge by a passing reference in his article, he owns a restaurant. Downtown, is my guess.

His article is titled “The Ugly American.” I don’t know why. The Ugly American is a 1950s novel about an American in Southeast Asia, about foreign relations generally, and Carter’s piece has nothing to do with foreign relations. The ugly American of his headline is (of course) Trump. An interesting article might be written about how the election of a professional buffoon like Trump would affect America’s image in the world, and then it would make sense to use the cliché about the ugly American as the title. For Carter it’s just a handy, off-the-shelf phrase he heard somewhere.

Nobody tell Carter that “The Ugly American” was actually the good guy in the novel:

The title of the novel is a play on Graham Greene’s 1955 novel The Quiet American and was sometimes confused with it.

The “Ugly American” of the book title refers to the book’s hero, plain-looking engineer Homer Atkins, whose “calloused and grease-blackened hands always reminded him that he was an ugly man.” Atkins, who lives with the local people, comes to understand their needs, and offers genuinely useful assistance with small-scale projects such as the development of a simple bicycle-powered water pump.


The novel takes place in a fictional nation called Sarkhan (an imaginary country in Southeast Asia that somewhat resembles Burma or Thailand, but which is meant to allude to Vietnam) and includes several real people, most of whose names have been changed. The book describes the United States’s losing struggle against Communism due to the ineptness and bungling of the U.S. diplomatic corps stemming from innate arrogance and their failure to understand the local culture. The book implies that the Communists were successful because they practiced tactics similar to those of protagonist Homer Atkins.

Trump is an unlikely populist hero, but his lifestyle and worldview, as Ferguson goes on to write, is surprisingly much closer to the common man than the vast majority of cork-sniffing, virtue-signaling Manhattan elites, as Trump lives out Groucho’s famous motto that he would never belong to any club that would have me as a member.

Speaking of which, Rod Dreher spots the New Yorker’s Douglas McGrath, who occasionally moonlights as a screenwriter for Woody Allen, savaging Mike Pence for dining at the Red Lobster in Times Square.  Not coincidentally, Dreher’s piece is titled “Where Trump Voters Come From.” Not to mention, Trump’s GOP successor, if Trump himself fails next month.