Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Real Issue of Romney's Returns

“We don’t pay taxes,” sniffed Queen of Mean Leona Helmsley two decades ago before she went to jail for tax evasion. “Only the little people pay taxes.”

The Romney refusal to release returns has become an issue beyond their actual content, evoking an attitude that did not work out well for a real estate mogul who ran the Palace Hotel, let alone someone trying to take over the White House.

A whiff of noblesse oblige is in the air, a sense that the very rich play by different rules than the rest of us, never a vote-getter in national elections (see John Kerry wind-surfing on his wife’s fortune in 2004).

We are tantalized by Romney’s release of a 2010 return showing he paid 13.9 percent on $21.7 million in income but put off by the annoyance he and his wife express over questions about their estimated quarter of a billion dollar fortune.

“The more we get attacked, the more we get questioned, the more we get pushed,” Ann Romney tells an interviewer this week. “Mitt is honest. His integrity is just golden.”

Such umbrage is not attractive in the couple known for a car elevator in one of their many homes and breeding show horses to compete in the Olympics with a running mate who looks like a miniature version of themselves. Do they find it unthinkable that honesty is not the point but a lifestyle that keeps a potential President from understanding the plight of less privileged people?

The very rich are different, F. Scott Fitzgerald told Ernest Hemingway in the 1920s. Yes, they have more money, Hemingway replied. But Fitzgerald spent a brilliant career writing about the unusual state of mind of people who feel they have a right to eat the world and everyone in it.

He would have been fascinated by the Romneys. As are we. 
They see no irony in a campaign that hides their own wealth while pushing voter suppression in Ohio, Pennsylvania and elsewhere to keep poor people from voting against their candidacy.

Class warfare, anyone?


Fuzzy Slippers said...

Interesting connection to F. Scott Fitzgerald, but I think that Fitzgerald would have been far more interested in Obama. A sort of Gatsby figure isn't he? A phony, grasping for something he neither deserves nor has earned, pretending to be something he's not all the while continuing his criminal, underclass behaviors and attitudes. Completely out of his depth in every conceivable way. Completely fabricated from whole cloth as something he isn't and never was . . . merely to pursue an "orgastic" future of his own invention (well, with a little help from Karl Marx and a few commie mentors). Oh, yes, I think Fitzgerald would find Obama quite intriguing indeed.

Perhaps he might see Obama as an Amory-esque "romantic egoist"; thinking so much of himself, a grasping, scheming phony--as so many of Fitzgerald's characters are. How amused and amazed Fitzgerald would be by Obama's sudden rise to power, with no experience, no background, no nothing to warrant it. What might Fitzgerald have thought to hear Obama speak of his own election being the moment the seas stopped rising and the oceans started to heal. Oh, yes, I have little doubt that Fitzgerald would have been most fascinated indeed.

bluespapa said...

@Fuzxy Slippers Oh, yes, his underclass behaviors, because middle class is the new underclass, and going to college and working your way up is, what, uppity? Acting above your station? Yes, Obama knocks around the White House a bouncer who knows he didn't earn the votes that put him there, a station that should have gone to the guy who couldn't remember how many homes he has, there are just so many, and now clearly the better man has so many thousands of pages of tax returns, we plebians couldn't understand and shouldn't worry our pretty little heads what deals he made to generate all the lucre, and his Don't Cry For Me Argentina wife who laughs to think we wouldn't just take her husband word that he's honest, even though no one since Nixon wreaked of guilt and paranoia and secrecy had run for president.

Bob Munck said...

Car elevator (6th paragraph).

Lots of people have car garages.