After the young, bald, intense Neel Kashkari was named last week as the unfortunate bastard who will lead the government bailout of Wall Street, all the media was scrambling to find out anything about his background. Besides the fact that he's a Republican ski bum, they haven't really turned up a single iota of dirt on Neel. But we have, possibly! Fellow Americans: Was our new Head Of Money a Ferrari-posing, flag-waving, "egocentric jerk" in high school? A tipster writes:
I taught and coached at Western Reserve Academy during Neel's high school years. Although I never taught him, I recall him fairly well, and would sum him up by noting a handful of prior impressions of him: his teachers, while praising his diligence and ambition, mostly thought he was a dick. So did all the cool kids—and by this I mean the smart, interesting, mature kids that teachers normally come to like and enjoy. He was almost universally regarded as exactly the sort of hyper-ambitious, above-average-but-not-remarkable, over-confident right-wing jerk who thought much more highly of his own ability than did his teachers and other adults in the school community. And 2 specific memories stand out: for his senior page he chose a picture of himself in full preppy regalia, reclining on a Ferrari. (This was exactly the sort of picture that really worldly kids from highly cultivated families, even those with a Ferrari in the garage, would never be caught dead in. But Neel was clueless about how tacky & laughable this image was.) The other memory was by far the most telling. We had all-school meetings most weekday mornings in the school's chapel, where the morning's announcements concerning school events, athletic contests, club meetings, and the like would be announced to the school body. Any student could get "on the list" to make an announcement by simply telling the headmaster or assistant headmaster that they had an announcement to make. So, on the morning that the first Gulf War began—or the first weekday morning afterward, anyway—the school was rather somber on the subject, and it wasn't mentioned at all at morning meeting. (Most faculty, like me, were very disturbed that we were at war—something we'd hoped not to see again in our lifetimes—and most students were a bit confused and unsure what to make of all the news.) Not, that is, until Neel was called upon by the assistant headmaster to give his announcement. Neel leapt to his feet and, with much fanfare and bombast, announced bouyantly that the US forces had engaged the Iraqi army in Kuwait and Iraq and were on their way to Baghdad! I can not emphasize enough how gleeful and excited his announcement was; I recall that he waved his arms in a kind of bravura flourish, obviously expecting everyone to burst into cheers around him—and no one did. Everyone remained utterly silent, and he looked very foolish, the lone exultant warmonger in a room full of somber faces. As we walked to classes afterward, several colleagues and I briefly discussed what an absurd moment that had been, and what an ass Neel had made of himself... I think it somewhat problematic to nail an adult for his behavior as a teenager, although in Neel's case, and given the anecdote about him that you published on your website, it sounds like nothing has changed. He was memorably an egocentric jerk.