Skip to comments.Who’s Afraid of Wealthy Candidates? (Why fault a presidential candidate for being rich?)
Posted on 08/07/2012 7:31:39 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
Scurrilous would be a step up for Harry Reid. If he were a Republican . . . you know the drill. The word McCarthyite would be on everyones lips, and the thoroughly contemptible accusation based (ha!) on an anonymous investor who supposedly phoned Reid would be the story of the day. Reids fetid slander, and not Mr. Romneys response, would preoccupy everyone interested in politics.
For Romney to release his tax returns now would seem to reward this sort of disgraceful tactic. And yet, it may be worth doing anyway.
Romney has resisted releasing more than two years worth of tax returns, presumably because he knows that an army of Democratic operatives would pore over them, plucking out details and holding them between tweezers for all to see. Look, Romney has holdings in companies doing business in [fill in the blank] the Philippines, Russia, China, South Africa, Singapore. Did you know that you can be arrested for spitting on the street in Singapore? Romney has described Russia as our number-one adversary in the world, and yet he had stock in company X that sold widgets to St. Petersburgs water authority! What a hypocrite. What a traitor.
For a few days, there is no doubt, wed hear nothing but repetitions about Romneys great wealth, including in-depth examinations of his various holdings, whatever they are, and a lurid emphasis on anything such as expensive dressage horses that screams money. That much is a given.
But the recent dustup over Romneys Swiss bank account illustrates the limits of this sort of strategy for Democrats. Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz unloaded on Romney, saying he needed to release his tax returns so we can see why hes invested in Swiss bank accounts and accounts in the Cayman Islands. For good measure, she added, And you know, we also need to know why does what is the allure of investments out of the country?
Wasserman Schultzs indignation rang hollow when The Weekly Standard discovered that through her 401(k), she had investments in foreign drug companies, Swiss banks, and the state bank of India. Just as Wasserman Schultz was hoisted, so others will be. Lots of people have diversified portfolios.
Also, there is a limit to how long even our dutiful, Democratic-leaning, lapdog press can persist with the Romney-is-still-rich meme. After a few days, even ankle-biting journalists will feel constrained to change topics.
Even if they dont, there is no reason to believe that voters will hold Romneys wealth against him. Americans dont envy the rich; they aspire to become rich themselves. Class envy has limited appeal. Among recent prominent American politicians, its challenging to find a single one who is not a millionaire. Harry Reid has a net worth estimated at between $2.6 million and $5 million. Nancy Pelosi recently lost $8 million, bringing her net worth down to $26.4 million. John Boehner is said to have $1.7 million.
Hillary Clinton, one of the most popular political figures in the country, is worth about $85 million. No one objected to her wealth when she ran in 2008, and no one suggests it would be a handicap in the future.
Ross Perot made history in 1992 and 1996, getting more votes than any third-party candidate in history. Voters didnt resent his status as a billionaire; they admired it.
Al Gore could have picked up the tab when dining with the Clintons. His net worth clocks in at about $100 million. But he could have asked John Kerry to do likewise, as Kerrys fortune is about $240 million.
Darrell Issa and Arnold Schwarzenegger are wealthy men, which hasnt hurt their careers in politics. Teddy Kennedy, Mark Warner, John Edwards, Rudy Giuliani, Herb Kohl, Rick Scott, Jay Rockefeller, Jon Corzine, and George W. Bush are (or were while alive) all multimillionaires. And lets not forget the man who seems to be mayor of New York for life, and who is often mentioned (by the credulous) as a possible national candidate, Michael Bloomberg, whose estimated net worth is $22 billion.
Romneys fortune puts him at the higher end of recent presidential candidates, north of Al Gore but south of John Kerry. Unlike many in Washington, Romney made money in the private sector, not by political leverage. Some voters, however, may conclude that Romneys reluctance to release his tax returns suggests that hes hiding something. To allay their suspicions, its worth releasing the returns. Yes, Romney is rich and also charitable and clean. All are pluses in American politics.
Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.
Blue Blood Wealthy Democratic Presidents who inheirted everything are the most popular in Democratic circles John F. Kennedy and FDR.
Truth be told, it’s almost impossible to win any high office without having millions of dollars in the bank, or at least a couple of billionaire friends. How many Senators or governors of the last 30 years or so have had “humble” beginnings?
I’m not knocking it; just saying that’s how things work. Of course when the rich guy’s a Republican it’s a sign of a systemic problem, but when he’s a Dem... no problem, please disperse, nothing to see here, move along.
t’warn’t a problem when Ketchup Kerry was running...
The independently wealthy are a bit less likely to taking direct bribes, etc., unlike, say, a Dan Rostenkowski who was from a blue-collar background.
The same people who keep idiotically prattling about reducing Congressional salaries are the same people who complain about Congressmen being a bunch of blue-blood out-of-touch Country Club types. However, theyhave no comprehension that the more you reduce Congressional compensation, the more you’ll end up with only EXISTING millionaires in Congress.
You nailed it.
On a related note, how many average workers own some "international stock fund" as a holding in their 401(k)? How many average people invest in BRIC funds? Probably many. If so, they're investing in countries and companies outside the US. It's just good investing sense to be diversified, including the countries where you spend your investment dollars.
All of this stems from the envious arguments Obama has made against supposedly "rich" people, and it really has to stop.
I keep thinking that Romney’s folks must have SOME campaign acumen—they’ve missed out on so many easy triumphs, there’s just got to be something they’re good at. Is it a rope-a-dope on the taxes? How long has Romney been running for something? Decades. What’s the likelihood that there’s an undotted “i” or an uncrossed “t” in those years of tax returns. My guess is they were filed more for future use than for gaming the system he well knows how to game.
If so, if he’s able to cram these returns down Harry’s throat, I still don’t see the value of the advantage as compared to, say, a photo op of the Romney team at CFA.
Wealth certainly isn’t a negative upon itself. But I admit it sometimes brings in a few qualms. For example, cases in which someone who is priviledged their whole life, living in clean, gated communities, might be oblivious to how things like waves of illegals via open-border/amnesty policies have managed trash and drag down so many parts of mid-America. I’ve seen so many places turn to hell over the past few years, not to mention the carnage and human toll. But do the folks of great wealth/privilege and the circles they travel in ever become even remotely cognizant of such things? That is indeed a qualm I have.
The elites are trying to tell us that Romney is the best possible republican candidate and oh by the way he’s super rich.
They aren’t fooling anyone. He’s the republican candidate BECAUSE he’s so rich.
She wasn't nearly that rich a few short years ago.
How did this woman get so much money?
Is this Hillary’s money or is it the money she and the great stain maker JOINTLY have as husband and wife?
I know that Bubba makes hundreds of thousands in speeches alone.
The sources of Obama's wealth is a mystery. Clearly he had money before becoming POTUS and he and Michelle still have a million dollar home in Chicago. While Michelle's hospital job paid likely 6 figures that isn't all that much money particularly in Chicago. Obama's salary as a "community organizer" for some non profit and adjunct faculty at the law school likely wasn't much and neither he nor Michelle moved up in their short careers as lawyers. The royalties of Obama's books were worth something, but hardly much when he was an obscure member of the Illinois legislature. Then there is the question of possible school loans. How did Barry Sotero pay for his tuition at Occidential College, Columbia and Harvard Law School? Clearly a known dope head from Hawaii didn't get top academic scholarships so other than amassing large school loans how did he pay for his schooling? I know the amount of school loans my son accumulated going to a private college and then law school and he was given and rightfully earned lavish academic scholarships. Going to Columbia and Harvard would be in another league of costs so how did Barry come up with the money?
I think a wealthy president is a Good Thing, particularly one who did it themselves. They would be less corruptible.
Clinton was one of the less wealthy presidents in recent times. He isn’t too badly off now!
I do not favor rich kids who did not earn their wealth (Kerry, Dayton, etc). They understand nothing except how to spend.