This morning Paul Krugman enlists F. Scott Fitzgerald's familiar assessments of the plutocratic class. "They are different from you and me"--Fitzgerald's gold standard of literary psychology--and "They think, deep down, that they are better than we are" dovetail with Krugman's portrayal of an out-of-touch stratum that is also "incredibly self-centered," "ridiculous," and "safely ensconced in a bubble of deference and flattery."
Krugman's intent, of course, is to get at Mitt Romney, who is not only ridiculously self-centered, but spousally convinced that "you people" have been enlightened enough as far as Mitt's noblesse oblige is concerned, so you should, in turn, just cease your uncouth questions and stop your unrefined yapping. In a mere two words, the missus said more about the Mittean mentality than even the royally oafish candidate himself ever could.
But back to Krugman's umbrella theme--that of Mitt's insufferable social class itself. Here, or so it seems to me, we should take our interpretations less from the flamboyant zeitgeist of the Jazz Age--that is, Fitzgerald's assessments--than from the contemporaneous dread of the post-Great War's 'Red Scare,' whose reactionary absurdities unmasked the plutocracy's perpetual paranoia of being somehow corralled and subdued by us people, the rabble.
This alternative assessment comes, irresistibly, from Mencken, 1920.
Imagine a horde of peasants incredibly enriched and with almost infinite power thrust into their hands, and you will have a fair picture of [the plutocracy's] habitual state of mind. It shows all the stigmata of inferiority--moral certainty, cruelty, suspicion of ideas, fear. Never did it function more revealingly than in the late pogrom against the so-called Reds, i.e., against humorless idealists who, like Andrew Jackson, took the platitudes of democracy quite seriously.
Fear. Plain, unmitigated, endless fear. Those without any toys may take one of the plutocracy's thousands, so the latter's natural reaction is to overreact; to sit the throng down harshly; to wag its finger at the vulgar and unknowing; to reinstall the right people in high office--the right, good people who know better than you and me, per recent Hamptonian yelps.