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Arthur Louis

Arthur Louis
February 28
I was a writer and editor for more than forty years with four newspaper and magazine publishers. I am the author of two non-fiction books: "The Tycoons" and "Journalism and Other Atrocities," and one novel, "The Little Champ," all available on


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APRIL 24, 2012 5:19PM

How Poor Must Romney be before He Can Relate?

Rate: 7 Flag

Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential candidate this year, has a fortune in the neighborhood of $200 million. He earned most of it as a successful venture capitalist, but evidently he has never been hard up for money. His father was an automobile executive and later the governor of Michigan. Mitt grew up in comfort in a swanky suburb of Detroit.

For all these reasons, his Democratic detractors insist, he is not fit to become president of the United States. He would be unable to “relate” to the hundreds of millions of American citizens who are worth less than he, perhaps  most of whom struggle to make ends meet financially.  

Since when do Americans invariably elect as president  someone who is just like them financially? Was Franklin D. Roosevelt, scion of a wealthy family and living on his Hyde Park estate, just like the people who voted for him? What about John F. Kennedy, whose father was one of the richest men in the world and parceled out much of his fortune to each of his children while they were still young? What about Lyndon Johnson, a wealthy rancher and owner of lucrative broadcasting properties? What about Jimmy Carter, a prosperous peanut farmer?  For that matter, what about Barack Obama, who probably is worth millions as a best-selling author?

By the time someone gains enough recognition to be considered a plausible candidate for president of the United States, he is likely to have enjoyed a comfortable life. We elect such people because we want successful, proven leaders.  Joe Sixpack is a swell guy, a great companion at a ballgame or a tavern, but we don’t want to elect him -- or anyone similar to him-- as president, precisely because he is not yet a proven achiever.  

One can make the argument, if one isn’t a Democratic apparatchik, that anyone who earns $200 million in a free economy probably can relate better to the average Joe than someone who has not earned a ton of money.  Ours is largely a consumer economy, which means that if you want to score big bucks you have to know a hell of a lot about what Joe wants and needs. Romney earned the bulk of his money by revitalizing consumer-oriented companies, such as Domino’s Pizza, Sealy Corp. and Sports Authority.  He also spent four years as the governor of one of the most populous states, where he was  forced to keep a finger on the public pulse.  

Why is it that Romney, with his $200 million, should be brushed aside while Warren Buffett, who is worth about two hundred times as much as Romney, seems to have been tapped by President Obama as the principal arbiter of the nation’s tax policy? By the way, Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, owes the Internal Revenue Service a billion dollars in taxes going back a decade.  Can you relate to that?

There is no question that some of the men who became president of the United States rose from humble origins. Abe Lincoln comes quickly to mind. But I cannot think of any who could have been considered average Americans by the time they took office.

If you want an example of that, you  have to turn to Europe, during the first half of the previous century. There was a failed artist from Austria, chronically unemployed, who considered himself lucky when he got to spend his nights in a flophouse. He could really relate to the people, however, and the people could really relate to him. He became the leader of one of Austria’s neighboring countries, and as events unfolded he became the leader of Austria as well, along with a whole lot of other European countries.

Frankly, I would prefer Mitt Romney

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I, too, would prefer Mitt Romney to Hitler. Good thing Hitler isn't running.
I think, Louis, that the case of Mitt not “connecting” has a lot more to do with the fact that he can’t seem to connect…than with the fact that he has a few bucks more than Joe Sixpack or Joe Merlot.

The guy has shown a tone-deafness to what is going on in America right now that is astounding.

I suspect he may be our next president no matter what. Obama’s base has deserted him…and I think as the election year stretches on, that desertion will become more and more apparent. The polls now seem to be on his side, but there are, in my opinion, dark days ahead.


Having the Republicans at the helm could be the straw that will break this overburdened camel’s back. I know you are hoping for the Republican win, but…
Sorry Arthur, I mean Arthur, not Louis.

Damn another mistake!
waitaminute dude. every example of a wealthy president you gave was a DEMOCRAT-- right? why is that? I think youve found the issue there dude. wealthy democrats are tolerated or supported. wealthy republicans are now considered like the bubonic plague. you have GWB to thank for that one. its the gift that keeps on giving :p
maybe if romney talked about GWBs legacy more, that could help. you think?
I just read a great blog on huffpost, "why we dont need a CEO as the head of our country" and articulated well the differences between what CEOs care about & what presidents [should] care about. excellent. Ill fwd you the link if you are interested in it & cant find it.
I forgot to mention John Kerry, who next to Ross Perot may be the richest person ever to run for President. But he didn't win.
your post is basically totally tone deaf with the times. the mass public has figured out that wealth disparity is a key political issue now, after its been proven to be OUT OF BALANCE at a massive historical level. so yeah, if times were different without that massive OUT OF BALANCE your guy romney might have much more of a chance. the point is, wealth can be built up morally or immorally, and its the govts job to try to prevent the latter, but its been increasingly falling down on that for decades.
vzn, I am afraid Obama has problems with money management. Maybe Mitt could do better.
You are right, being rich does not necessarily make one detached from the common folk. In fact, Obama cut social security more than Bush ever did. And Buffet's 30% tax on the rich is a joke. Word to the wise though, the future of our economy is bleak at best, therefore, our system cannot withstand putting more burden on the poor, because what comes next is homelessness and hunger on a massive scale. R
It's not his wealth; it's how he acquired it. It is truly his complete disconnect to those struggling, and the concerns of the middle class. Obama was painted as one kind of elitist, and Romney is representing the other. Pick your poison.
Thoth and onislandtime,
I hope things are not as bleak as you think. The country has always pulled through before.
Liberals will say anything to win. Mitt's too rich. He never drank. He's a Mormon. He worked for Bain. Whatever it is it's only an excuse.

Liberals will say anything that it takes to win.

Kennedy came from a super rich family yet now it's a bad thing?

I hope Americans are more concerned about how Obama's spent our money than how Mitt earned his.
Harrison, Excellent point.
Good post, Arthur. Rated.

Obama's charm, which he embellishes with ethnic oral rhythms when the audience is sufficiently hand picked, tends to evaporate when confronted with tension, as it will be more and more as the campaign rolls on. By October, Obama will be displaying his true personality which is nasty.

Being charming when winning isn't difficult. As Obama stops winning, he'll become increasingly clipped and bitter.
Thanks, Gordon. I think that anyone who isn't dazzled by him already can see what a mean-spirited, devious character he is.