Part of the problem is that Romney is the first tycoon to have won the Republican nomination in a very long time. It’s not that Republicans subscribe to the liberal superstition that rich or otherwise privileged men make acceptable presidents only if they are Democrats. Theodore Roosevelt dominated the GOP in the first decade of the last century. A little later Republicans put Herbert Hoover (a mining investor worth upward of $70 million in today’s dollars) at the top of their ticket. Alf Landon (an oil millionaire) was next in the succession. But Hoover and Landon went down to epochal defeats, and for a long time a spooked GOP was partial to nominees who had done well but not too well where money was concerned — Ike, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Dole. (Goldwater, with his family department-store money, was an exception: but he wore cowboy boots.) Eventually the Bushes broke the glass floor, but only after they expiated their Brahminical sins by moving to Texas.
Romney, without a model to emulate, has been on the defensive during much of the summer, harried by the president’s picadors. The republic may be on the road to fiscal collapse, but a recent news cycle was consumed not by anxiety about the $10 trillion in new debt Obama seeks to incur over the next decade but by variations on the headline “Romney: ‘I paid taxes every single year.’”