If Mitt Romney were to win the presidential election in November he would be one of the richest presidents in history. Unlike many of these presidents, Romney is mostly self-made. Sure he grew up in a well-to-do home and his dad had money, but by the time he inherited anything Mitt Romney was already loaded. He said he gave his inheritance away. Romney never had to worry about where his next meal was coming from. He’s never had to think about finding another job to pay the bills. His wife raised their children and didn’t have to work. So with such a privileged upbringing will Romney really be able to run the country? He doesn’t know what it’s like out there does he?
That’s bull$#!+ and any pundit that tries to throw Romney’s wealth around as a hindrance to his ability to serve the office is just playing games. No one judged John Kerry’s ability in this context. He’s a member of the Forbes family and was sent to the most elite schools as a child. He also married into wealth. Al Gore went to a high school so expensive it rivals many private universities which then led to Harvard. Hillary Clinton had a relatively comfortable upbringing too. And you can look at the first link above to see how rich some of our presidents were.
The only reason this is up for discussion is the state of our economy today. So can someone that washes his silver spoons with other silver spoons run a country struggling to afford plastic spoons? It’s hardly even a question. Of course he can.
Romney’s specialty is what some in the private sector would call general management. He’s very good at jumping into a situation, quickly getting his bearings straight, and making good decisions. He doesn’t have to be an expert on the economy, which even today is only a small part of the president’s job. But he can look at the facts and make good decisions from them. One can question his career from a political perspective, but Romney is clearly able to clean up messes, lead a team, negotiate, make decisions, and execute them. These are the unappreciated abilities a president must have. The media seems only concerned about whether or not the president, whoever it is, can influence from the bully pulpit and kiss babies. That has nothing to do with the day to day running of the country. The skills that get you elected are not the same ones that make you a good president.
Empathy and Sympathy
Is it critical for the president to be able to empathize with someone struggling economically? It’s commonly misstated that Republicans don’t have sympathy or empathy for the poor. This is not true. They have different visions for how to deal with it than Democrats. But is it fair to say a Kennedy is any more connected to the poor than a Romney? An oncologist has no better idea on how to treat cancer than someone with a PhD in cancer biology locked in a lab. But they may look at the problem differently.
The real question is whether or not being rich affects Romney’s ability to connect with voters enough to get elected. Obama can connect better but Romney only needs to connect enough. And none of this matters to whether or not he’ll be a good president. Question his politics, or his vision for the future. But being rich just really doesn’t matter.