President Obama is a snob who looks down his nose at those who don’t choose an urban lifestyle.
This is not exactly news, but it does matter why Obama hates the suburbs and expresses disdain for those who live there.
"I’m not interested in the suburbs. The suburbs bore me. And I’m not interested in isolating myself."
It’s not exactly a newsflash that Obama is a liberal elitist who believes city life is the best life. This is the man, after all, who in the campaign (when he thought no one was recording his words) told his fellow liberal urban elitists in San Francisco tales of the strange God-and-guns clingers in the far reaches of Pennsylvania where NPR comes in scratchy on the wireless … if at all.
Now, I’ve lived everywhere — in the sense that I’ve spent a good amount of time experiencing life in urban, rural, and suburban settings. All areas have their virtues and drawbacks. And I think I could happily make a life anywhere. "Home is where you make it," and all that.
Driscoll, it seems, raised this point for little reason other than to post a classic James Lileks rant from 2000. The great humorist and rant-maker was riffing on the book: "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream." I highly recommend you go here to read the whole thing on Driscoll’s site, but here are a few great nuggets:
This book regards suburbia as the equivalent of a Chemlawn gulag, a vapid archipelago into which Americans have mutely filed like sheep to the abbatoir. The authors hold up Alexandria, Virginia as a model for urban living – everything’s pedestrian-accessible, human-scaled, with mixed-use blocks and definable urban centers. All true. … I recall a friend’s apartment – the bedroom had room for the bed. That was it. A bed. Two people could not live in that place – well, they could, but only if no one wore nappy fabrics, because you’d get rugburn from rubbing against each other all the time. …
Here’s the dilemma: if the suburbs are such a horror, and inner-city life a clearly superior option, why do people live in the burbs? … In the curious mythology of our freedom-encumbered age, the post-war vision of freeways and big back yards has curdled into a dark plot imposed on people, not an option freely chosen. …
The book frowns on gated communities, of course, because they’re exclusionary. Conversely, they praise urban developments with dense housing — which include, I presume, apartment buildings with doormen and security systems. Driving past a guard booth or getting buzzed up via intercom — what’s the difference? "The unity of society is threatened not by the use of gates, but by the uniformity and exclusivity of the people behind them." Oh, blow it out your ass. Doctors will never live next to janitors. …
This sort of fatuous moralizing can be found at the heart of most anti-suburban tracts, and it’s why I distrust the general idea. There are millions of Americans living happy lives in affluent comfort, never troubled by the aroma of cabbage wafting in from a neighbor’s window, never knowing the communal experience of being awakened at 4 AM by a siren and knowing that everyone else in the building is up as well, and this fact just galls some people. All that space . . . all that room . . . all those things! It just can’t be right.
Amidst the beautiful rant, Lileks makes some great points. It’s not enough for liberal elitist snobs to sing the praises of their paradise — the impossibility of expanding one’s living space without moving, convenient parking spaces being harder to find than the Ark of the Covenant, not being able to sensibly own a dog bigger than a flower pot. They have to look down their nose at those who freely choose to live a different life. People who may not feel it is one of life’s joys to be harassed by smelly, rude panhandlers on the way to the corner store are somehow inferior. They are "isolating" themselves.
This would simply be an annoyance, akin to the traffic jams suburban dwellers endure, if books like "Suburban Nation: The Rise of Sprawl and the Decline of the American Dream" were not published as often as a Danielle Steele romance novel. The left wants to impose their version of "enlightened" urban life on the rest of us — and we see it in the endless scolding about how suburban and exurban life is harmful to the environment. We need to give up these decadent ways, and soon. Government, through "planning" our lives, must make it so.
Both sets of my grandparents came to this country from Ireland. They settled in cramped, cheap housing in New York City. And every single one of their progeny grew up to leave New York City for the joys of owning (not renting) a real house, a real yard, and a better life — in the suburbs. To have the taking of that opportunity to improve one’s lot in life blithely derided as "isolation" is a little offensive.
I wish I could "isolate" myself from Obama by living in the suburbs. No such luck.