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

Hitting the links on Martha’s Vineyard

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Deroy Murdock

If Obama looked for a while at his pension, he would learn that he has between $50,000 and $100,000 in the State of Illinois General Assembly Defined Benefit Pension Plan. The Illinois State Board of Investment, which manages this fund, has pumped $2 billion of this money into foreign companies, including at least 59 enterprises in the People’s Republic of China — some of them state-owned businesses. Among these companies: Air China, Angang Steel Co., China Blue Chemical, China Coal Energy Co., China Oilfield Services, and China Pharmaceutical Group. Obama’s pension also is invested in a private-equity fund called Advent International. It is based in the Grand Caymans.

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Obama’s small-size-doesn’t-matter argument is rather puny. While Romney’s blind trust (which, by definition, he does not control) may have more money in Chinese and Grand Caymans assets, Obama’s claim to being just a little bit pregnant does not inoculate him from having a small Chinese bun in the oven. (And one from the Caymans, too.)

President Obama is just the latest Democrat to get away with being rich. Consider these other multi-millionaire “men of the people.”

John F. Kennedy was America’s richest president, ever. Last February 9’s Time magazine measured every chief executive’s wealth. In 2010 dollars, JFK had $1 billion to his name, nearly double George Washington’s $525 million, and far more than the $60 million belonging to FDR, a liberal neo-deity and father of the New Deal. JFK’s youth, vigor, and wit remain ballyhooed. His billionaire status is a non-issue, as is its source: his father’s alleged Prohibition-era rum-running.

Lyndon Baines Johnson had $98 million. Not bad for a former schoolteacher. Liberals fondly remember LBJ’s Great Society, Medicare, and Food Stamps but forget about his lucrative cattle ranch and broadcasting properties. Among them: KTBC-TV in Austin, Texas, and eventually six radio stations, including KLBJ-AM and -FM.

The late Senator Edward Moore Kennedy (D., Mass.) failed to swipe the 1980 presidential nomination from Jimmy Carter (who had $7 million, Time calculates) and never became the Democratic standard-bearer. Nevertheless, Teddy still embodies liberal empathy and generosity (with taxpayer money) toward “the little guy.” Missing from this narrative is any mention of the family bootlegging fortune, which contributed to his $45 million, OpenSecrets.org’s midrange estimate of his net worth. To Kennedy’s pals on the Left, his occasionally being photographed aboard his 50-foot yacht, Mya, demonstrated his virility, not his plutocracy.

Romney has taken a much tougher beating than other Republicans.

Ronald Reagan had $13 million, Time reports. However, Democrats criticized his conservatism, not his cash, though Nancy Reagan got hammered for favoring fine china and luxurious gowns. She did win over the press somewhat when she satirized herself by singing “Secondhand Clothes,” to the tune of “Secondhand Rose,” at the March 1982 Gridiron Dinner. Few if any such slings and arrows were aimed at Teresa Heinz Kerry, Lady Bird Johnson, or Jackie Kennedy, who was revered as the quintessence of feminine elegance until her untimely death at age 64.

George H. W. Bush suffered a joint strike on his $23 million and his malapropisms: “Poor George,” former governor Ann Richards (D., Texas) famously said in 1992. “He was born with a silver foot in his mouth.”

This endless obsession with Romney’s bank account is part of Team Obama’s relentless class warfare. Voters deserve much less focus on Mitt Romney’s and Barack Obama’s multi-millions and many more ideas for restoring vibrant economic growth — so every American can grow wealthier.

— Deroy Murdock is a Fox News contributor, a nationally syndicated columnist with the Scripps Howard News Service, and a media fellow with the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace at Stanford University.



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