In Defense of Limousine Liberals

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‘Limousine liberals” have driven full circle—or rather the term has returned to its origins. Coined in 1969 by Mario Procaccino, the Democratic Party’s unsuccessful challenger to New York Mayor John Lindsay, the epithet described “hypocritical wealthy do-gooders insulated from the negative fallout of their bad ideas,” in historian David Callahan’s definition.

“This theme,” Mr. Callahan has written, “remained a staple of conservative attacks.” Sen. Ted Kennedy was a classic example. He sent his kids to exclusive private schools at the same time he was telling working-class whites to bus their kids to distressed schools in the slums.

In this year’s New York mayor’s race, the limousine-liberal attack came from the left again, with the help of a conservative tabloid. The target was Maya Wiley, who was endorsed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and finished either second or third in the June 22 Democratic primary.

“She’s not Maya from the block,” began a June 19 New York Post story. She’s emphasized “her progressive bona fides and hard-bitten personal story. But it’s a tale that has often required looking past a number of silver spoons, and alleged hypocrisy.”

Among other things, the Post noted that Ms. Wiley earned as much as $300,000 a year as a college administrator and lives in “a historic Prospect Park South estate valued at $2.7 million,” and that, like Kennedy, she enrolled one of her daughters in “an elite private school.”

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