The New York Times has a quasi-hit piece out on Usha Vance, From Yale to Newsmax, Usha Vance Has Helped J.D. Vance Chart His Path – The Ohio Senate candidate’s wife, an accomplished lawyer, remains ensconced in the milieu he now rails against. I say quasi because there’s nothing bad they could really find except that she’s helped her husband along on his political career, and seems to have tacitly shifted her own views.
This part about untouchability was pretty amusing:
That world has, in turn, started to reject Mr. Vance. Ahead of the September 2021 wedding of Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld — a daughter of Ms. Chua — multiple guests requested not to be seated next to the Vances, according to two people who attended the wedding. (The couple did not attend, in the end, because their children had the flu and Ms. Vance was soon to deliver their third child, according to two people close to the Vance family.)
I guess they were worried about losing caste!
28 thoughts on “Usha Vance “hit piece””
For those who do not have the backstory, Vance lives, and is running, in the state of Ohio, where he grew up and went to college. I live in Ohio.
Vance is running as a Republican and a supporter of Donald Trump, who has appeared on Vance’s behalf at recent campaign rallies. Ohio was strongly pro-Trump in 2020, and voted for him by 8 percentage points.
The top of the Republican ticket in Ohio next week is Governor Mike DeWine, a Republican like Vance. He is very popular because he steered a moderate course handling COVID and because he landed the new Intel fab which will result in a $20 Billion dollar investment in the State. DeWine will cruise to victory by at least 10 percentage points over his opponent. That will help pull Vance over the finish line.
Furthermore, the good news for Vance is that the election is tilting Republican nationally.
Mrs. Vance’s ethnic background is a total non issue in Ohio. She has been featured in television commercials supporting him.
There is a growing, but numerically unimportant, population of South Asians in Ohio. Many of them are professionals or academics, such as my doctor.
“Vance lives, and is running, in the state of Ohio, where he grew up and went to college. I live in Ohio. Vance is running as a Republican and a supporter of Donald Trump, who has appeared on Vance’s behalf at recent campaign rallies.”
I grew up about 15 miles away from where he did and attended a high school split abut 50-50 between people from his world and people from mine (I was a small college town son of a professor at a “public ivy” university). I was back there to visit family just last month and take a pulse of the political scene in Ohio right now.
But, this backstory is missing some key points about him.
J.D. Vance made a name for himself writing the memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” that tells the story of how he went beyond the roots of his Appalachian migrant to rust belt Ohio to work in manufacturing grandparents and messed up but economically functioning substance abusing parents, to spend time in the military to learn discipline, then to be a star older student at The Ohio State University after finishing military service, after which became a Yale Law School student. At Yale, he explains, he was out of his depth in terms of cultural capital, even though he was intellectually up to being a student at one of the top three or four law schools in the U.S. He relied upon his future wife, Usha, and one or two key faculty mentors who took an interest in and looked out for him, to bridge the gap between his “white trash” roots and his new elite upper middle class to upper class peers. There is great irony, that he reveals but understates in his memoir, in the fact that a woman with recent South Asian immigrant roots is more at home in the highest ranks of the American upper middle class and knows better how to behave there than he, a white man with American born ancestors going back for centuries does.
This life story gave him some distance and insight to reflect thoughtfully on social class divisions, and on the American subculture he grew up in. After starting out on the steps towards a top tier law career, he left law for a while, to be a San Francisco venture capitalist firmly on the Yale Law side of the social class divide in the U.S., but he has come back home to make his name at the pinnacle of American politics drawing on his humble roots.
One of the understatements that hides more than it reveals about him is a description of J.D. Vance as a “Trump supporter”. He made his name as an objective, thoughtful mainstream conservative who was a vehement and famous “never Trump” political figure in the U.S. center-right of politics. He was a rare politically moderate conservative in a politically divided country at a time that it has never been more polarized. This was the persona that made him attractive as a U.S. Senate candidate with potentially broad appeal.
But, in the run up to running for the U.S. Senate, he totally reimagined himself and changed himself (hypocritically) from being a dignified and civil conservative intellectual “never Trumper” to becoming a hard core Trump supporter and populist. He was personally endorsed by Trump (and his opponent in the U.S. Senate race has made a big point that Vance publicly showed no offense at being gratuitously and humiliatingly insulted by Trump in the same breath that Trump endorsed him). The new J.D. Vance is contemptuous not just of liberals (which you expect from a conservative politician), but of the very kind of thoughtful intellectual conservative that he himself was a celebrity among just a few years earlier. His marriage to Usha is reflective of the relatively cosmopolitan openness to people who are different from him that set him apart from other political leaders with his background and reflects the growth as a person that he developed in his international travel in the military and Yale Law School education.
Admittedly, he is, even now, not nearly as xenophobic and racist and anti-intellectual as a large share of his supporters and political allies (whom he understands because he came from their world culturally), and of a large share of Trump’s political movement in the U.S. more generally. But he also doesn’t hesitate to pander to their baser instincts in his campaign as one must to rise in Trump’s political movement. The public persona of the J.D. Vance of the campaign trail in Ohio is almost unrecognizable to people who knew him before he was running for public office.
So, he’s a very complicated celebrity public figure candidate and nobody who is really paying attention knows who the real J.D. Vance is behind the scenes.
One thing is that JD Vance is certainly chubby or overweight. This is totally unrelated but I see HM’s comment on your Twitter saying he is not fat. By global standards, the guy is fat. By medical standards, I guarantee that he is at least overweight and a lot of lean muscle doesn’t seem to be driving his BMI so BMI is probably not a bad indicator for him.
By American non wealthy area standards, where obesity is way more prevalent, he is “normal.” Just looking at his face, you know his body fat is high.
The untouchability is dumb. But classic leftist hypocrisy. They like minorities only when they agree with the leftist agenda.
The Left uses ethnicity as a weapon. Identity ethnic politics is wielded as some sort of injustice sword. The Right uses it too with “The Great Replacement.”
Maybe some parallels to the old saying of Jim Crowe and American Slavery days:
Southern Whites hate the black race but can like a black person.
Northern whites like the black race but hate the black person.
Some parallels to *some* conservatives and Leftists respectively in general.
“One thing is that JD Vance is certainly chubby or overweight. . . . By American non wealthy area standards, where obesity is way more prevalent, he is “normal.””
For what it is worth, J.D. Vance was a quite dashing and handsome guy in his younger days right out of the military and in college and his early career (I’ve seen pictures), but middle age, the American way of life, and the sedentary lifestyle of working in an office as a professional eventually caught up with him.
It isn’t easy to hold onto the body you had when you were in your twenties (something that at age 52, I can testify to personally).
Also, if you are running for office and want to come across as one of “us” and not “them” with your political base when doing so, it doesn’t make sense to try to maintain the gym toned, diet watching body expected of an up and coming big law firm lawyer or San Francisco venture capitalist, as a top priority.
Letting his weight and fitness slide a little, in addition to not taking much effort, makes him more relatable to your typical Midwestern Trump Republican.
I’m not saying he consciously put on weight and let himself go to win political points, but he also isn’t facing a lot of pressure from his professional and social peers to prevent that from happening the way that he did earlier in his life.
“some people make a big deal that she is better looking than Vance.”
This is true now, but wasn’t true when they got married. She has aged better than he has.
Since untouchability was mentioned for other commentors, mostly Browns who care, Usha is of S Indian Kamma caste origin. It is a Telegu mid caste.
On another note, some people make a big deal that she is better looking than Vance. Frankly, that isn’t all that uncommon between ambitious and charismatic men and their mates. But I see clowns constantly racialize it for no reason.
she is not kamma. JD personally told me her family is brahmin. i didn’t mention it in the post cuz i don’t want to seem gauche idk. but that’s what he said
Thanks. I was going off last name. Curious if they had Hindu ceremony too and if she converted to Christianity
they had a pundit ceremony so she hadn’t converted on marriage. JD himself converted to catholicism recently. tbh i know ppl who have met her, and the times story is overdoing her ideological shift
Yeah. I’m sure a lot of it is assumptions given she is a POC Yale law grad
i think u misunderstand. she hasn’t changed THAT much from being a moderate liberal…she’s “not political” really
What a shame. A true Scots-Irish man would never become a Catholic.
Like a lot of people with Appalachian roots, and like Donald Trump, before converting to Catholicism as an adult, he wasn’t really very religious period. He was nominally Christian, but it wasn’t a big part of his identity and he wasn’t a regular churchgoer.
No true Scots-Irish man, eh?
Chilukuri is a fairly common and standard kamma surname though. I’m a telugu who has a couple of friends with that surname. IDK if JD knows all the nuances of caste.
he told me straight up her family is brahmin. he’s married to her. he spends christmases with her family. you think he would get confused about this? and you think if they were brahmin they wouldn’t tell him in all sorts of subtle ways all the time.
You think he wouldn’t lie about this? I’ve got some land to sell you in Florida….
I don’t think he would lie. Sometimes families inflate caste aka “rajputization.” But this happens less frequently with Brahmin claims. I would believe the family more than not, if that’s what they say they are.
On another note, her phenotype matches some people in my family. Makes sense, since I cluster similarly in terms of 3 population ratio. She has a pan Indian look. I wouldn’t bat an eye, if you told me she is Gujarati.
The couple did not attend, in the end, because their children had the flu and Ms. Vance was soon to deliver their third child, according to two people close to the Vance family.
Why do they say “Ms.” and not “Mrs.”? Perhaps the NYT (or the wokes within) has an ideological opposition to women taking their husbands’ surnames, but if so, they should use her maiden name, no?
“Why do they say “Ms.” and not “Mrs.”?”
If I recall correctly, this is a part of the New York Times writing style manual as the default descriptor unless context clearly dictates an alternative. It isn’t tightly tied to keeping or not keeping your maiden name. See https://www.amazon.com/York-Times-Manual-Style-Usage-dp-1101905441/dp/1101905441/ref=dp_ob_title_bk
Good interview with Vance.
she is not kamma. JD personally told me her family is brahmin.
Chilukuri is a fairly common and standard kamma surname though.
Maybe slowly slowly becoming Brahamin (or Vellala as they used to say in Jaffna)
From wiki re Kamma caste
Following Brahminical traditions, Kammas emulated the rituals of the Brahmins, and the literate Kammas learned the Vedas, wore the sacred threads, taught Sanskrit and even performed pujas for the lower-caste members, which is said to have generated controversies
What I (as a Sri Lankan) found interesting is that the Kamma have sub group called the Nayaks. During the reign of the Vijayanagara Empire, Kamma Nayaks (commanders) were appointed as governors in many areas of Tamil Nadu.[
The last three Kings of Kandyan Sri Lanka were pure as in India born and bred Telugu Nayaks. They inherited the throne thru the wife of the last Sinhalese King Narendrasinghe.
Another side note. The Sinhalese use the word Andara Demla (Tamil) for anything unintelligible. I assume that was from Andhra Telugu which is kind of similar to Tamil probably. Andhra Telugu was probably used extensively in the court during the last three reigns and totally unintelligible to almost all Sinhalese
I’m a Kamma. Kamma and Telugu Brahmins share surnames not because of emulating Brahmanical traditions but shared village origins in the Krishna Godavari Basin where both groups along with other dominant Telugu castes hail. Telugu surnames run on the “inti peru” system so it’s mostly village derived so multiple castes can share surnames. Kamma Nayakas were dominant in Southern Andhra and parts of Tamil Nadu but the ones who went to Sri Lanka were of Bailja origin; also Telugu but a different caste.
but the ones who went to Sri Lanka were of Bailja origin; also Telugu but a different caste.
I think you are getting confused with the Indentured Tea Estate workers taken by the Brits.
The last three kings were Nayaks (Nayakkar in Sinhla0 and came via Madurai.
The last Sinhala King was Narendrasinghe. Narendra Singha had several marriages as mentioned in history. His Queen Consort was a princess from the Nayakkar dynasty. She was known as Pramila Devi, daughter of Lord Pitti Nayakkar and Lady Abhirami Devi.
When Narendrasinghe died the throne went to his brother-in-law who called himself Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe of the Madurai Nayak Dynasty
There is a Wiki for the Madurai Nayak Dynasty (look it up). The Madurai Nayaks were rulers of Telugu origin from around 1529 until 1736, of a region comprising most of modern-day Tamil Nadu, India, with Madurai as their capital.
The Madurai Nayaks had their social origins among the Balija warrior-merchant clans of South India, particularly in states of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.
“Ahead of the September 2021 wedding of Sophia Chua-Rubenfeld — a daughter of Ms. Chua — multiple guests requested not to be seated next to the Vances, according to two people who attended the wedding. ”
I finally got around to reading the article.
It really was catty and about middle school (12-14 yro for non-Americans) level of social development. I have come to think of the NYTimes as the Dalton Middle School class news paper. (For non Americas and non-U Americans Dalton is the fanciest private school in Manhattan).
But, the above quoted sentence really got me. That is an exceptionally rude thing to do.
I have often said that the US has the worst elite class ever and this is another data point supporting that judgement.
I will pat myself on the back for my analysis of Ohio politics.
Incumbent Governor Mike DeWine rolled home with 63% of the vote. I believe that was the widest margin of any Republican Governor running for re-election in the US this year. The Republican candidates for the constitutional offices elected by a statewide vote (AG, SoS, Treas, Auditor) each had around 59-60% of the vote. All of the Republican candidate for open seats on the Ohio Supreme Court (3) won by 56-57%.
J.D. Vance won with 53% of the vote. Vance was the only candidate who campaigned with Trump. The others studiously ignored him. I think that is the most important reason why Vance trailed the other Ohio Republicans.
Other reasons include an aggressive and well funded television advertisement campaign by the Democrat, and that Vance is not a good face to face campaigner. He did not do a lot of it and was lackluster when he did.
He lacks the optimal looks and charisma. He was strategically challenged well in the media. And he cozied up to Trump, that too in a hypocritical way, given he was Never Trumper before.
Nonetheless, he won. That’s what counts.
I think the election results show that if the republicans want to win they need to drop trump.
I think he has something like 30% die hard fans and 60% die hard opponents who will never vote for things associated with trump.
10% swing not enough to win.
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