There is tacky, and then there is Louise Linton, wife of Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin.
The Scottish actress, 36, married the former Goldman Sachs executive, 54, two months ago in a lavish ceremony officiated by Vice President Mike Pence and attended by President Donald Trump and most of his cabinet. After a European honeymoon, Mnuchin is back to work, and he's bringing his wife along on some of his business trips—the most recent of which ignited a public scandal when Linton posted a tone-deaf photograph to social media, followed by a comment mocking less wealthy people.
The couple took a government-funded trip with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to his home state of Kentucky yesterday, and Linton posted a photo from the trip to her public Instagram. Linton looks incredibly glamorous as she steps off a military plane—like a true movie star, with windblown blonde hair, a silky cream blouse tucked into wide-legged cream pants, a designer handbag on one arm, and a patterned scarf on the other.
In case you missed how truly luxurious the moment was, she padded the caption with hashtags: "Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside #rolandmouret pants #tomford sunnies #hermesscarf #valentinorockstudheels #valentino #usa" in addition to tagging the designers.
A tasteless showing off? Yes. But where Linton's wrongdoings really lie are in what came next. Linton was on government business, she pointed out, which means that her trip was funded by taxpayers. And one of those taxpayers complained as such in the comments: "Glad we could pay for your little getaway #deplorable," wrote @jennimiller29, a mother of three from Oregon.
The long paragraph Linton posted in response, which repeatedly demeaned and insulted the woman, was screen-grabbed by The New York Times before Linton deleted the message and made her account private. "Aww!!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! Adorable!" she wrote, peppering her message with multiple kissy emojis. In a passive-aggressive screed, she explains that it was a government trip (which means she and the commenter are ... agreeing?), then says that since she and her husband pay more taxes and make more "sacrifices," they're entitled to the trip. Or something. The logic is confusing:
The thing is, no one is shaming Linton for buying expensive things. Someone should absolutely buy Roland Mouret pants. Those pants are gorgeous. But her Instagram post, its caption, and her petulant behavior in the comments made a series of increasingly maddening and ironic mistakes.
The pants would have been gorgeous even without a bunch of hashtags that seem to flaunt their price tag. Her Birkin bag (estimated minimum $10,000) is elegantly designed and perfectly proportioned even if it did carry her lipsticks and gum on a government trip to Kentucky, where the median household income is $43,400. But to point out how expensive her belongings are, on a trip paid for by taxpayers, for a meeting about tax cuts for the wealthy—well, it's crass. And then to mock a poorer person who points out her behavior and claim moral superiority because she's in a higher tax bracket? Beyond comprehension.
Scottish though she is, Linton is a perfect symbol for this complicated era in American politics in which a government employee (or his wife) can openly tease constituents over their poverty, while trumpeting their own riches, while encouraging them to work harder, while giving themselves tax breaks.
Wear whatever pants you want, Ms. Linton. But maybe keep the lessons in entitlement to yourself.