All stories have a shelf life, though it often takes some time to determine what that is.
Just based on a quick Google search, the August exchange between Louise Linton, the wife of Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and a critic of Linton’s fashion-bragging, mean-girl Instagram post seemed to be fading, along with memories of the eclipse, which the couple was lucky enough to have observed at Fort Knox.
But it all came rushing back when ABC News reported Wednesday evening that the Treasury Department had in fact requested a government jet for Mnuchin’s European honeymoon in Scotland, France and Italy. If the request had been granted, the plane would have cost the taxpayers roughly $25,000 per hour to operate.
A Treasury Department spokesman said in a statement that the request was made so that Mnuchin, who is a member of the National Security Council, would have access to secure communications as he traveled abroad.
The department withdrew the request “after a secure communications option was identified during the Secretary’s extended travel,” said the statement.
As the news rushed across social media, so did the memory of the Instagram episode, with one line in particular standing out among the now-regretted post by Linton:
“Adorable! Do you think the U.S. govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol.”
While the government appears not to have paid for the honeymoon, it turns out that it was not for lack of effort.
Now the episodes are hopelessly interlinked. They’ve become a serial.
The embarrassments of the Mnuchins are of the sort everyone can get: A former movie and hedge fund mogul said to be worth $300 million, responsible for the safekeeping of the taxpayer’s dollar, tries to procure a taxpayer-funded jet on a honeymoon with his expensively wardrobed, bejeweled former actress wife.
This theme dominated the Twitter reaction to the news after it broke.
In fairness, many Cabinet secretaries get off to a difficult start in Washington. But usually it’s about policy. Few have offered up such a consistent target-rich theme, one in such contrast to the stated goal of the administration in which Mnuchin serves: swamp draining.
Connect that to his confirmation hearings, which focused in part on his ties to business entities in tax havens such as the Cayman Islands and Anguilla. This from the man whose responsibilities include overseeing the Internal Revenue Service.
The run-up to the couple’s wedding was marked by Linton in a big spread in Town and Country Magazine.
“All the Jewels Louise Linton Wore to Her Wedding,” said the headline, beneath which shimmered photographs of her huge diamond engagement ring, her earrings, a diamond necklace and a pavé-diamond ring.
She described the big moment when the two decided to wed.
“We were at Art Basel in Miami a few years ago and we walked past a jewelry store,” Linton told the magazine. “We stopped to admire the shape of an oval engagement ring in the window. … Three years later he proposed to me with an oval ring just like the one we saw in the window.”
The Instagram exchange followed the couple’s flight to Kentucky on a government plane. The trip faced a torrent of criticism, as The Washington Post’s Drew Harwell reported, after Linton posted a photo to Instagram showing her descending from the steps of a government jet while clad in high-fashion designer labels, which she individually named. When one woman questioned her, Linton fired back that the woman had less money than her and was “adorably out of touch,” suggesting that the couple were so rich they hardly needed the government to pay for their trips.
She apologized when the news spread. “Instead of emphasizing things I truly care about,” she said in an interview with Washington Life, “like family, animal rescue and my work, as I had in the past, I was trying to portray a certain public image.”
Finally, Wednesday, came the story of the request for a plane ride to Europe by this $300 million man and his diamond-studded wife.
Mnuchin is indeed a man of great fortune. But he has the misfortune, under the circumstances, of having a name that rhymes, or rhymes close enough, with “mooching.”
This was not lost on Twitter on Wednesday night
Behold: “The moochin’ Mnuchins.”
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