Romney is forever saying — and God bless him for this — that we shouldn’t punish success, that we shouldn’t discourage risk-taking and entrepreneurship, and that we shouldn’t resent wealth. He celebrates the successful businessman and the free market that makes such success possible. And then he goes around acting like somebody who gives a fig about the price of a gallon of gas as anything other than a statistical abstraction on some spreadsheet somewhere or a political opportunity. This isn’t just cheap campaign theater: In 2010, Romney and his wife were flying back from the Vancouver winter Olympics when a guy flipped out on the plane and took a swing at him. Romney had reminded the guy to return his seat to the full upright and locked position before take-off — that’s our Mitt, no? Romney laughed the episode off and didn’t press charges, but the real news is this: Romney was flying commercial. In fact, he was sitting in the 15th row of an Embraer ERJ-190, which on Canadian Air means he was flying coach. Economy class! No normal person flies economy class if he can afford not to — and Romney can afford his own airliner. Fly like a G6? Romney could buy his-and-hers Gulfstreams and still have more money left over than Gwyneth Paltrow and the McCains combined. And John McCain famously has more houses than he can count.
I suppose he’s practicing bourgeois virtues and whatnot, and we conservatives probably should cheer that. Hurrah. Now Romney should quit pretending that he’s an ordinary schmo with ordinary schmo problems and start living a little larger. He should not be ashamed of being loaded; instead, he should have some fun with it. He will discover something that the Obama campaign has not quite figured out yet: Americans do not hate rich people. Americans love rich people. Americans will sit on their couches and watch billionaire Donald Trump fire people on television — for fun. Nobody hates Jay Leno for owning seven Aston Martins and 17 Lamborghinis — people go to his garage’s website (of course his garage has its own website) to ogle his cars and leave appreciative remarks. (Like President Obama, Leno’s big on green cars: He’s got 39 of them, which probably negates the environmental benefit of buying a green car, but whatever.) There are lots of children of rich and powerful men who do not turn out to be 0.01 percent as successful as Mitt Romney has. Meghan McCain’s father is a rich guy and a failed presidential candidate, just like Mitt’s. Anybody think Meghan McCain’s life is going to turn out like Mitt Romney’s?