Top of the Ticket

Donald Trump and Mitt Romney live in a different America

Donald Trump has endorsed Mitt Romney, which proves that two rich guys can spend months insulting each other and still come around to the realization that they share one deep and overriding interest: money.

Sharing a stage with Trump on Thursday in Las Vegas, Romney acted like a kid on a visit to Disneyland. “Being in Donald Trump’s magnificent hotel and having his endorsement is a delight,” he gushed.

Romney’s real pleasure may have been having the news of the day not be centered around one of his frequent tone-deaf turns of phrase. Just the day before, Romney had been busy revising his comment that he’s “not concerned about the very poor.” His elaborations seemed to make things worse among survival-of-the-fittest conservatives like Rush Limbaugh who weren’t pleased by Romney’s belated pledge to protect the social safety net that sustains impoverished Americans.

In this campaign, critics have been pouncing every time Romney has said anything that reinforced the impression he is an out-of-touch rich guy. There was the debate where he challenged Rick Perry to a $10,000 bet. Then, when asked how much he made last year from speaking fees, Romney famously answered, “Not very much” – which, it turned out, was nearly $400,000. And, of course, there was the line taken out of context that became an instant hit with anyone making attacks ads against him: “I like being able to fire people.”

Out of context or not, the pattern of Romney’s unscripted comments is revealing. This is a man who has lived his entire life in a world of privilege. When he talks about how he did not inherit his wealth (at least not as a young man) and how he worked hard to get to where he is today, he is not lying. On the other hand, as the son of a wealthy auto executive and prominent Republican governor, he wasn’t exactly pulling himself up by his bootstraps. His boots were polished and paid for – probably at Brooks Brothers.

Mitt Romney is not heartless, he's merely clueless when it comes to understanding the precarious position of the poor or even the beleaguered middle class. He’s never been there and, unlike the wealthy Bobby Kennedy, he has never shown much interest in finding out what it’s like. 

The poor need more than a thin safety net and they need more than the false dream of a job somewhere down the line when the tax breaks of the rich trickle down to their level. They need a president intensely engaged in breaking the cycle of poverty, poor education, fractured families and criminal activity that has created a permanent American underclass.

Barack Obama, to his discredit, has not been that president. It’s hard to see how Mitt Romney would be any better. As he said, he’s just not concerned.

Of course, Romney also said he’s not concerned about the wealthy, either. That’s good, because Donald Trump seems to be doing just fine.


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