In the reality television show that has become American politics, it’s difficult to tell elected officials from internet-style trolls and whether or not everything is being scripted by a mediocre MTV writing team.
Louise Linton is an actress, but her most prominent role to date is her current one as the wife of Steve Mnunchin, former Goldman Sachs exec and current Secretary of the Treasury under Donald “You’re Fired” Trump. Linton married Mnunchin on June 24th of this year at a ceremony officiated by VP Mike Pence.
Mnunchin isn’t popular on any side of the aisle because of his Goldman Sachs credentials as well as, for Trump’s alt-right fanbase, his “lack of populist credentials.”
Linton has had a less-than-prolific acting career and is likely to become most famous for her controversial activities than for her artistic endeavors.
In 2016, she self-published a memoir tastelessly titled In Congo’s Shadow which was criticized for its false portrayal of Zambia and for casting Linton as white savior, causing her to withdraw the book from the market and donate its proceeds to charity.
Now Linton seems to be exploiting another country for personal gain, this time, the United States.
In an Instagram post that was quickly deleted Monday, Linton and Mnunchin were pictured descending the stairs of an Air Force jet after visiting Fort Knox to tour the country’s $200 billion gold reserves.
The photo, which looks like a Vogue fashion spread advertising male and female pantsuits to the bougie jet-setter, was captioned: “Great #daytrip to #Kentucky! #nicest #people #beautiful #countryside.”
This caused Linton to draw ire from commenters, one of whom said simply: “Glad we could pay for your little getaway.”
Linton responded in a condescending monologue of a comment: “Cute! [kissy-face emoji] Aw!!! Did you think this was a personal trip?! 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. [strong-arm emoji, kissy-face emoji] You’re adorably out of touch. [heart-eyes emoji] Thanks for the passive aggressive nasty comment. Your kids look very cute. Your life looks cute. I know you’re mad but deep down you’re really nice and so am I. Sending me passive aggressive Instagram comments isn’t going to make life feel better. Maybe a nice message, one filled with wisdom and hunanity would get more traction. Have a pleasant evening. Go chill out and watch the new game of thrones. It’s fab!”
Linton drew further criticism for other hashtags she used in the post noting the brands she was sporting in the photo: Roland Mouret pants, Tom Ford sunnies, Hermes scarf, Valentino rock stud heels, Valentino. Her final hashtag was “#usa.”
One commenter stated: “Please don’t tag your Hermes scarf. Distasteful.”
This behavior comes during a presidency that has been fraught with emolument and conflict of interest controversies and after recent news broke that the secret service is running out of funds due to Trump and his extended family’s protection and excessive travel. Trump and his surrogates have suffered criticism for promoting Ivanka Trump’s clothing line, repeatedly visiting Trump-owned properties to do official government business, and not removing themselves effectively enough from their personal businesses as they serve government interests.
Initially, Linton deleted the hashtags noting which brands she was using; but, she ultimately seems to have deleted the post altogether as well as making her Instagram account private.
According to the Huffington Post, “it’s unusual, if not unprecedented, for the spouse of a Cabinet secretary to promote the designers she is wearing in any social media post, much less one that includes a photograph of herself with her husband while on government travel.”
She seems to have forgotten that she is no longer a mere social-climbing, goldman-digging wannabee, but a representative, by extension, of our government. Framing the trip as a “day trip” while also opening herself up to potential brand associations that could enable her to profit off of her husband’s government position, is not an appropriate or acceptable use of tax-payer money or national resources. Even if she, as a British citizen, has contributed more in taxes than some of her Instagram followers, those followers do not get to benefit as she does from that taxation by taking “day trips” and having a public platform. Additionally, those in the highest tax brackets in the United States tend to benefit especially from taxing loopholes meaning that they tend to pay less-than their fair share of taxes, with some even paying a lower percentage than those in lower brackets.