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Chester County Press

Editorial: The crudite of absolute truth

08/30/2022 02:57PM ● By Richard Gaw

“Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me. They possess and enjoy early, and it does something to them, makes them soft where we are hard, and cynical where we are trustful, in a way that, unless you were born rich, it is very difficult to understand. They think, deep in their hearts, that they are better than we are because we had to discover the compensations and refuges of life for ourselves. Even when they enter deep into our world or sink below us, they still think that they are better than we are. They are different.”                                           F. Scott Fitzgerald

In April, Dr. Mehmet Oz, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, did what any man of the people does.

He went food shopping.

Accompanied by a cameraman, he poked around the vegetable aisle of a grocery store he referred to as Wegner’s – apparently a hybrid mix of Redner’s and Wegman’s – and criticized Democrats for high prices at the grocery store.

He was at the store, he said, to purchase “crudites” for a salad his wife was making, and as he continued to stack his arms full of raw carrots and asparagus and broccoli to heighten the effect, he realized that the value of what he was holding was nowhere near exceptional – about ten dollars. With the grit and determination he promises to bring to Washington when he is elected, Oz kept fishing around the aisle and found a six-dollar container of salsa and a package of guacamole.

“That’s nearly twenty dollars for crudite, and we have Joe Biden to thank for this!” Dr. Oz said into the camera, begging the obvious question, “Since when does the President of the United States regulate the price of vegetables?”

Almost immediately after the video surfaced, it became the faux pas heard ‘round the political circles of not only Pennsylvania but the entire nation, and to no one’s great surprise, his Democratic opponent John Fetterman pounced on it like a Cameron County coyote does to a wandering marsupial.

In a counter video, Fetterman held up a pre-packaged, pre-cut package of vegetables and said, “In PA, we call this a veggie tray, and if this is anything but a veggie tray to you, then I am not your candidate.”

All high-profile trolling aside, Fetterman’s attack on Dr. Oz has opened up a larger insight into the vast gulf of disparity that the Republican candidate has with most hard-working Pennsylvanians, whose culinary tastes in all honesty favor cheesesteaks, pierogies and Primanti’s sandwiches over a tray of vegetables.

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Then there is the thorny search for the truth in determining just where Oz currently lives. While his campaign espouses that he now resides in Bryn Athyn -- “where his wife’s family has lived for 100 years” -- the Philadelphia Inquirer found that Oz reportedly used his in-law’s Pennsylvania address to register to vote in the state last year. The mystery of where the Republican candidate sleeps becomes ever murkier upon revelation that he owns ten properties that include residential real estate in Sariyer, Turkey, residential property in Konya, Turkey, a mansion in Maine and another mansion in Cliffside Park, New Jersey, a tawny suburb just outside of New York City.

Fetterman’s campaign could not resist yet another dig: This summer, the campaign paid for a plane to fly over the coast of New Jersey with a banner that read, “Hey Dr. Oz! Welcome home to NJ! Love, John.”

If none of these facts prove salient to the argument that Dr. Mehmet Oz does not understand the lives lived by everyday Pennsylvanians, consider this: Together from his books, television appearances and other business ventures, Oz currently has a net worth of $100 million.

“Pennsylvanians do not care where you’re from, they care what you stand for,” Oz told reporters during a campaign stop at a car dealership in York last week. “But if you're curious, my father as an immigrant came and settled us just south of Philadelphia. I went to med school and business school in Philadelphia, met and married my wife.

“The world that I see is very much based on Pennsylvania values.”

While it may be in his best interests to run on his claim that he understands the values of Pennsylvanians, it is also Dr. Mehmet Oz’s largest fallacy. An individual who possesses a huge amount of wealth cannot possibly share the same values as the individual who avoids the bills for a third consecutive week; or the parents who tossle in the middle of the night playing mathematics in their head about the college tuition payment that is due soon; or the bricklayer or the mushroom worker whose weekly paycheck cannot stretch any further; or the business owner in the aftermath of a worldwide pandemic, who finds herself signing her name to the front of checks far more than she does the back of them.

Dr. Mehmet Oz lives in a hop-skotch world where the definition of “home” is nebulous. He lives in a world that the people he campaigns in front of will never know. It is a world of privilege, where even something as common as a veggie tray has earned the right to be known by a fancier word.