Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin is wrapped up in a growing controversy over his use of a government plane to travel to Fort Knox during last month's solar eclipse and his request to use one for his European honeymoon this summer.
His comments Thursday about the jet travel aren't going to help put this to bed.
"You know, people in Kentucky took this stuff very serious,” Mnuchin said of the eclipse at a conference hosted by Politico. “Being a New Yorker and [living for a time in] California, I was like, the eclipse? Really? I don’t have any interest in watching the eclipse.”
Mnuchin has denied that he used the government plane for the purpose of seeing the eclipse from Fort Knox with his wife; he said there was official government business at hand. So it's understandable that he would downplay his interest in the phenomenon. But it's hard to read his comments as anything but demeaning to the people of flyover country. Those people were interested in the natural phenomenon, he seemed to be saying, but as a metropolitan man who has lived on both coasts, it just wasn't that interesting to me.
Why mention where you're from if that's not your point?
Mnuchin's comments recall those made by his wife, Louise Linton, who apologized a few weeks ago after lashing back at someone who criticized her for showing off her wardrobe on the trip to Fort Knox on social media. In her Twiter post, Linton had played up the expensive brand names she was wearing.
After the commenter said they were "glad we could pay for your little getaway," Linton responded:
Adorable! Do you think the US govt paid for our honeymoon or personal travel?! Lololol. Have you given more to the economy than me and my husband? Either as an individual earner in taxes OR in self sacrifice to your country? I’m pretty sure we paid more taxes toward our day "trip" than you did. Pretty sure the amount we sacrifice per year is a lot more than you’d be willing to sacrifice if the choice was yours.
She added: "You’re adorably out of touch … Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute.”
Against that backdrop, it would behoove someone like Mnuchin to avoid further suggestions that he and his wife are somehow superior to his wife's critic or the people of Kentucky. If your argument is that you don't see government airplanes as your own personal charter planes for personal getaways, humility is the best policy.