brie-eating liberals

Victor Steinbok aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM
Thu Nov 24 15:12:17 UTC 2011

I stand corrected on my initial timeline. It only holds for the term
"brie-eating"--not so much for the general association with brie.

Safire credits the Anderson campaign with "wine and cheese set".

> /Wine and cheese set/ and /brie and chablis set/ marked John
> Anderson's 1980 campaign; a generation later, the set was derogated as
> "the chardonnay-sipping, bicoastal hipster crowd."

When Safire credits "a generation later", he's underestimating the speed
of the evolution of political terminology. His more general point was
that "set" is always derogatory in political discourse.

It's interesting, then, that Pawlenty brought back the Chablis,
following years of Chardonnay. Makes you wonder who his advisors and
speech writers were. There is reason to look at Pawlenty's remark as


On 11/23/2011 8:46 PM, Baker, John wrote:
> As I recall, the association of political liberalism with eating brie, drinking white wine (sometimes narrowed down further), and driving a Volvo first attained wide popularity in the 1980 election campaign.  It may have been kicking around in some quarters earlier than that, but if so, it had not yet reached a larger audience.  Initially it was seen as a way of describing affluent suburban voters who were not necessarily all that liberal.  Here's the earliest example I see on Historical Newspapers, from the Washington Post, Aug. 7, 1980, at A2 (story continued from page A1):
> <<A perceived liberal, [Zell] Miller will certainly have to expand his coalition of big labor, blacks, the education establishment and the Volvo station wagon and Brie set if he is to beat up on Talmadge in the runoff.>>
> Discussion of this demographic group was particularly associated with third-party presidential candidate John Anderson, as in this story from the Wall Street Journal, Sept. 16, 1980, at 12, Reagan Supporters Fret Over Defections To Anderson Camp by Affluent Moderates:
> <<But the more traditional Republican suburban voters - what Assemblyman Kern labels the "Volvo-owner vote" and others call the "chablis-and-brie" set - may have difficulties with some of Mr. Reagan's conservative views on social or cultural issues, such as the Equal Rights Amendment and abortion.>>
> John Baker

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