Mitt Romney is right. He should not have to apologize for being successful. He should not be ashamed of being wealthy. However, that being true (and since he says he has nothing to hide), why not release more tax returns? If he wants to keep his finances secret, maybe he shouldn’t be running for president.
Outside of the battle over the tax returns (and offshore accounts), there is too much focus on the wealth and social standing of the two men who will face off in November. It is one thing to debate Romney’s track record at Bain or President Obama’s first term. Those are fair game. Those should be discussed. But all of the chatter about who is out of touch and who is an elitist is inane.
Mitt Romney is rich. He has mansions in New Hampshire and California. He takes lavish vacations and cruises around in enormously expensive boats. Estimates of his wealth typically range from $250 million to $500 million.
Barack Obama is also pretty rich. He is not as wealthy as Romney, but he is still a member of the 1%. He also enjoys extravagant vacations and his home in Chicago is not exactly small.
That these two men are extremely wealthy is not news. Romney is not a newcomer to politics. He was born into a wealthy family and has done well for himself. Obama has written bestselling books and was rich before he was elected president (something that doesn’t hurt the bank account).
The fact is, either both men are “elitist,” or neither is. This reinforces the absurdity of attacking either one as “elite.”
After attending the prestigious Cranbrook School, a private college preparatory boarding school in Bloomfield Hills, MI, Romney received an undergraduate degree from Brigham Young University. He then received a law degree from Harvard Law School and an MBA from Harvard Business School.
Obama received an undergraduate degree from Columbia University and, like Romney, a law degree from Harvard Law School. He also served as editor of the Harvard Law Review.
Their educations alone would place them among an elite group of Americans. Their careers only serve to enhance the notion that neither man has a whole lot in common with you or me.
Romney worked for the management consulting firm Bain & Company before founding and running Bain Capital. He also served as president of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee and supervised the Salt Lake City Olympics. He was governor of Massachusetts and is a bestselling author.
Obama was a civil rights lawyer for a firm in Chicago. He also taught at the University of Chicago Law School. He served as an Illinois State Senator before becoming a U.S. Senator. Obama is also the author of two bestselling memoirs.
Combining education and career, each man has a very impressive biography. They have been highly successful and have achieved many great things. One is president and one will be a major party presidential candidate (and could also be president). They are wealthy beyond most people’s comprehension.
You do not become president (or a party’s nominee for the job) without amassing a biography like that of Romney’s or Obama’s. Once you have reached that level, it’s safe to assume that you are a member of the elite.
Unfortunately the attacks calling Romney out of touch and Obama an elitist are not going to stop. They are too potent and too easy. There’s also evidence suggesting that they make an impact with voters. Partisans will point fingers and make one-sided accusations, but the fact is Democrats and Republicans alike partake in this game with equal aplomb.
As Super PACs and campaign staff and the like casually make those claims whenever they get the chance, it’s worth remembering that both men are members of the elite. They are elite even among the elite.