Damned Cheek

I wasn’t going to comment on this, but Rush Limbaugh began his broadcast today once again whining about the reaction to President Trump’s comments to the French 1st Lady.  Trump expressed his view that the 1st Lady is “in such good shape.” Rush complained that a man can’t compliment a woman “these days.” And it’s all the fault of feminists.

Let’s get this straight: a gentleman does not presume to assess the physical attributes of a lady –and certainly not someone that he has just met, and certainly not out loud in public. (And if he does so in private, some of his friends will think less of him.)

This is not a new development, nor a product of feminism, but part of the code of conduct of Western Civilization.

(Compliments generally have traditionally been something of a minefield among the upper classes in the Western world. I remember a story about an English gentleman having a guest removed from his home, because the miscreant “praised my chairs.”)

Historical response to such behavior: “How dare you, sir?!”

During some periods of history, making personal remarks about a lady of one’s acquaintance might result in one’s being challenged to meet an aggrieved father, husband, brother or suitor on “the field of honor” with possibly lethal results.

Rush Limbaugh dates such behavior as beginning in the “late [19]60’s or early ’70’s.” He whines that “nobody understands manners.” But that’s because Rush Limbaugh doesn’t know what he’s talking about.

Someplace, maybe in Innocents Abroad,  Mark Twain relates an incident from when he and his buddy were in Italy. Upon seeing a lovely young woman, and believing that no one around them would understand English, he exclaimed to his friend, “Look at that girl! How beautiful she is!”

The young woman replied in perfect English: “I thank the gentleman more for the apparent sincerity of the compliment than for the manner of its delivery.”

Mortified, Mark Twain immediately fled the scene, a response that I don’t doubt would be completely inscrutable to Rush Limbaugh.

And, alas, maybe to the President as well.


2 thoughts on “Damned Cheek

  1. I only caught a glimpse of the scene en passant but it looked even to my uneducated eye as if the President Of The United States was insalubriously slobbering all over her.

    Russia has a statesman in Putin, the USA has … ummmm … Trump …


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