The [New York Times wedding] section was also, predictably, WASPier. About half the couples who were featured in the late fifties were married in an Episcopal ceremony. Today fewer than one in five of the marriages in the Times page are Episcopalian, while around 40 percent are Jewish [. . .] it's pretty clear the trends of the last 40 years have been bad for the Episcopalians and good for the Jews. [. . .]pink shirt and tortoiseshell glasses -- attempting to ape the 1950s northeastern "WASP" aesthetic, with some unique additions of his own -- including garish tie and gap-toothed leer. More importantly, here's what Mencken actually said:
The section from the late fifties evokes an entire milieu that was then so powerful and is now so dated: the network of men's clubs, country clubs, white-shoe law firms, oak-paneled Wall Street firms, and WASP patriarchs. Everybody has his or her own mental images of the old Protestant Establishment [. . .] The WASPs didn't have total control of the country or anything like it, but they did have the hypnotic magic of prestige. As Richard Rovere wrote in a famous 1962 essay entitled "The American Establishment," "It has very nearly unchallenged power in deciding what is and what is not respectable opinion in this country." [. . .]
Meanwhile, every affluent town in America had its own establishment that aped the manners and attitudes of the national one. There were local clubs where town fathers gathered to exchange ethnic jokes and dine on lamb chops [. . .] The WASP aesthetic sense was generally lamentable--Mencken said Protestant elites had a "libido for the ugly"--and their conversation, by all accounts, did not sparkle with wit and intelligence. [. . .]
Though this elite was nowhere near as restrictive as earlier elites--World War II had exerted its leveling influence--the 1950 establishment was still based on casual anti-Semitism, racism, sexism and a thousand other silent barriers that blocked entry for those without the correct pedigree.
On certain levels of the American race, indeed, there seems to be a positive libido for the ugly, as on other and less Christian levels there is a libido for the beautiful. It is impossible to put down the wallpaper that defaces the average American home of the lower middle class to mere inadvertence, or to the obscene humor of the manufacturers. Such ghastly designs, it must be obvious, give a genuine delight to a certain type of mind.This passage comes from a 1927 essay in which Mencken mewls about how ugly he finds "the coal and steel towns of Westmoreland county". It's hard to see how Brooks could have mistaken Mencken as commenting on the tastes of "Protestant elites". (Mencken notes "the valley is full of foreigners" -- although he ultimately blames America for its lack of aesthetics.) Brooks evidently consciously misappropriated Mencken's line to add some weight to his anti-WASP sniping.