“As the son of tenant farmers, I can promise you I wasn’t born with four aces in my hand.”
– Governor Rick Perry to Iowa GOP activists, not-so-subtly referencing Mitt Romney’s claim that Texas’ success had more to do with low taxes and a robust oil and gas industry than with Rick Perry’s leadership.
As if President Obama’s plan to transfer more wealth from the most productive part of society to the least productive weren’t enough, one Republican presidential candidate is engaging in his own form of class warfare.
In an email sent to Perry supporters last month, Perry’s aides noted that Mitt Romney had a net worth of more than $190 million. The note also reminded readers of Romney’s insensitive gaffe in June that he was “also unemployed.”
While it is true that Mitt Romney was born into a wealthy family, he used his own talents to forge his own successful career in business and politics. He distinguished himself at Harvard Business School, graduating as a Baker Scholar. He also earned a J.D., cum laude from Harvard Law School. He founded Bain Capital, a successful private equity firm in Boston, Massachusetts. Romney further brought great credit to himself by turning around “an Olympics mired in controversy and saddled with debt” as President and CEO of the Salt Lake Organizing Committee. Lastly, he served as a successful governor of Massachusetts.
I don’t like that Mitt Romney comes from a privileged background. I like him despite this fact.
He is a qualified, capable and thoughtful candidate. While he may appear wooden or lack charisma, our current President has frequently demonstrated that charisma is no substitute for competence. And Romney has competence in spades.
Of course, Governor Perry is trying to paint Romney as a wealthy Northeastern patrician in contrast to Perry’s own down home, folksy manner.
But to be perfectly clear, this tactic is nothing more than simple class warfare.
While Perry was raised on a modest West Texas farm and spent five years in the Air Force, he spent the last 27 years in political office. If the experience of President Obama has taught the nation anything, it is that career politicians tend not to be very helpful or knowledgeable during economic crises. In fact, they can sometimes be downright counterproductive.
Even more noteworthy is the fact that while pointing out Mitt Romney’s millionnaire status, Governor Perry neglected to mention his own. According to Forbes, he has a net worth of nearly $1.1 million.
While this sum might not be much after a lifetime of earnings, its seems quite a bit for someone who spent his entire adult life as a career politician. Perhaps this point merits a far more legitimate area of inquiry than the finances of Mr. Romney’s father.