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Letters: Tom Wolfe’s Mocking of Liberal Hypocrisy

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To the Editor:

Re “Tom Wolfe, 1930-2018: ‘New Journalist’ With Electric Style and Acid Pen” (front page, May 16):

A hyperbolic New Journalism was Tom Wolfe’s signature style and method, as your fine obituary makes clear. But his ultimate intent was far more political.

Mr. Wolfe’s most consistent topic was satirizing what he saw as the hypocrisy of liberals, especially status-obsessed elites, whether the self-indulgent innocents of Ken Kesey’s Merry Pranksters or the Leonard Bernstein set naïvely hosting the violent Black Panthers.

The result was often wickedly funny and revealing, but always had a biting political undercurrent that helped set an example for more damaging and misleading caricatures of “limousine liberals” and “welfare queens” by figures like Ronald Reagan.

Thus William F. Buckley writes approvingly of Mr. Wolfe, and Norman Mailer disparagingly. Each seemed to intuit that Mr. Wolfe’s carefully stage-managed assaults on liberals were the precursors to much larger attacks against progressive values, attacks arguably reaching an apotheosis in the rhetoric of Donald Trump and Fox News today.


The writer is a strategic adviser and energy fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute.

To the Editor:

There was no one better than Tom Wolfe at exploding pretension and hypocrisy and showing the bitter and often funny ironies in American society.

When you read Tom Wolfe, you cannot help but laugh out loud on every other page. The man was a giant.



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