It isn’t just that he has money — it’s how he got the money. Sure, he grew up rich — Dad was the CEO of American Motors. (Hey, where was their bailout?) But Mitt didn’t inherit his fortune: He gave away everything his father left him, establishing a school of public management in his father’s memory. (Old-school patriarchs build monuments to their fathers.) Why would he do a thing like that? Because he didn’t need the money: “I figured we had enough of our own,” he explained. And then some. George Romney made his money by being a boss — a leader. Mitt Romney has been the same thing. When things went wrong, people put Romney in charge of them — at Bain, at the Olympics, at a hundred companies he helped turn around or restructure. Bain is a financial firm, but Romney wasn’t some Wall Street bank-monkey with a pitch book. He was the guy who fired you. He was a boss, like his dad, and like his sons probably will be. Barack Obama was never in charge of anything of any significance until the delicate geniuses who make up the electorate of this fine republic handed him the keys to the Treasury and the nuclear football because we were tired of Frenchmen sneering at us when we went on vacation. Obama made his money in part through political connections — no, I don’t think Michelle Obama was worth nearly 400 grand a year — and by authoring two celebrity memoirs, his sole innovation in life having been to write the memoir first and become a celebrity second. Can you imagine Barack Obama trying to pull off a hostile takeover without Rahm Emanuel holding his diapers up for him? Impossible.
Elections are not about public policy. They aren’t even about the economy. Elections are tribal, and tribes are — Occupy types, cover your delicate ears — ruthlessly hierarchical. Somebody has to be the top dog. As much as we’d all like to forget Al Gore ever existed, it’s worth keeping in mind that ridiculous episode in which Naomi Wolf tried to teach him to be more of an overdog. Slate, after poking fun at her advising him to wear more earth-toned suits, reported it thus:
Wolf’s non-sartorial advice to Gore — and to President Clinton before him, as an unpaid adviser — is even stranger. She coached each to emphasize his manly strengths, relying on hoary, tired gender stereotypes. She reportedly told Gore that he is the “beta male” who must fight Clinton’s “alpha male” for dominance. And as an adviser to the Clinton White House, she informed the president that the nation was searching for a “good-father role model” to “build a house” for the country. “I will not let anyone or anything touch the bedrock,” Wolf wrote in one memo for him. “I will DEFEND/PROTECT the foundation.” This came only three years after the publication of her book Fire with Fire, in which she savaged Republican spin doctors for positioning George Bush as “the reassuring arch-patriarch.”
Reassuring arch-patriarch — maybe one with enough sons and grandsons to form a pillaging band of marauders? Hillary Rodham Clinton told us that it takes a village, and Mitt Romney showed us how to populate a village with thriving offspring. Newsweek, which as of this writing is still in business, recently ran a cover photo of Romney with the headline: “The Wimp Factor: Is He Just Too Insecure to Be President?” Look at his fat stacks. Look at that mess of sons and grandchildren. Look at a picture of Ann Romney on her wedding day and that cocky smirk on his face. What exactly has Mitt Romney got to be insecure about? That he’s not as prodigious a patriarch as Ramses II or as rich as >Lakshmi Mittal? I bet he sleeps at night and never worries about that. He has done everything right in life, and he should own it. And by own it, I mean put it on the black card and stow it in the G6 — or at least in first class, for Pete’s sake.