Rich Democrats
Voters deserve less media focus on the candidates’ personal wealth.

Hitting the links on Martha’s Vineyard


Deroy Murdock

Top Democrats do not just disagree with Republican nominee Mitt Romney. They consider him a loaded, multiple-house-owning son of privilege unfamiliar with the common man.

At last week’s running-mates’ debate, Vice President Joe Biden suggested that Romney is “going to continue to focus on taking care of only the very wealthy.”

“Mitt Romney just doesn’t get it,” San Antonio mayor Julian Castro told the Democratic National Convention in September. “He just has no idea how good he’s had it.”

Writing for The Daily Beast, veteran Democratic campaign strategist Robert Shrum called Romney “awkwardly oblivious to the concerns of everyday life and reflexively committed to comforting the comfortable.” 

But big bucks are a problem only for Republican presidential candidates. Among liberal politicians, activists, and journalists, rich Democrats who run for president are just like the cable guy.

The Media Research Center (MRC) discovered that, between January and April, ABC’s and CBS’s evening news shows covered Romney’s affluence 13 times more than that of Senator John Kerry (D., Mass.) during the analogous period in 2004, when he challenged President G. W. Bush. (MRC found no equivalent mention of Kerry’s finances on NBC Nightly News.) Never mind that Kerry is far wealthier than Romney. Massachusetts’s senior senator — who avoided $507,500 in Bay State taxes by mooring his 76-foot yacht, the Isabel, in Rhode Island — personally has $240 million, according to Forbes magazine, and his ketchup-heiress wife, Teresa Heinz Kerry, controls another $500 million to $1 billion — including a private jet called The Flying Squirrel. Thus, the 2004 Democratic nominee’s household contains at least $740 million, more than triple Romney’s reported net worth of $230 million.

Regardless, Kerry is a man of the people. “From trapshooting to windsurfing to cycling,” CBS’s Byron Pitts said on July 23, 2004, “this New England patrician is doing his best to be an average guy.”

Meanwhile, ABC News last February called Romney a “wealthy businessman out of touch” with regular folks. He gets scarce credit for making his own fortune rather than relying on his father’s auto-industry money. Instead, Romney donated that entire inheritance to Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Management. Romney’s critics have lampooned his jet ski and the proposed car elevator at his vacation home in La Jolla, Calif. NBC’s Brian Williams has called Romney’s riches “unimaginable.” Liberals even mocked Ann Romney’s horse Rafalca in the London Olympics’ dressage competition — even after she revealed that she pursued equestrianism to alleviate her multiple sclerosis!

“Attacking Romney’s wealth has been one of the major ways the media have covered this campaign,” says MRC’s Dan Gainor. “It’s all just another way to depict Romney as out of touch and different from the rest of us. I wonder how many reporters realize that Obama is also a millionaire.”

Gainor correctly identifies this double standard. Obama reputedly is just a regular Joe who struggled to the top and yet remains rank-and-file. Actually, Obama is a product of Hawaii’s exclusive Punahou Academy. He graduated from Columbia University, edited the Harvard Law Review, and taught at the University of Chicago Law School. Obama scored $441,369 in book royalties last year. His 2011 joint tax return showed adjusted gross income of $789,674 (down from $1,795,614 in 2010). This is nearly twelve times the median AGI of $66,566 for couples filing jointly in 2009, as the latest IRS data indicate. Time magazine estimates that Obama has $5 million.

Unemployment remained trapped above 8 percent for 43 consecutive months after Obama’s inauguration (dipping to 7.8 percent only last month). Nonetheless, Obama thrice has summered in Martha’s Vineyard, one of America’s poshest playgrounds. Unlike Jimmy Carter, who enrolled his daughter Amy in government school, Obama sends his two girls to Sidwell Friends, Washington’s most elite private school. He also has golfed at least 104 times while president. Regardless, Obama’s cheerleaders remain eerily silent about his upscale ways, preferring instead to ridicule Romney as some sort of British lord, right out of Downton Abbey.

Obama and his campaign website have slammed Romney for placing money in companies in China and the Grand Caymans. At Tuesday night’s presidential debate at Hofstra University, Obama said that “Governor Romney invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing to China and is currently investing in countries — in — in companies that are building surveillance equipment for China to spy on its own folks.”

Romney responded by asking Obama if he checks his pension fund.

Obama replied: “I don’t look at my pension. It’s not as big as yours.”