By now we all know that Mitt Romney has nothing but disdain for the social welfare “entitlement” of the supposed 47% of Americans who pay no income tax. (Romney’s 47% claim is now getting torn apart as inaccurate.) But what of the entitlement program created by his father that he used for connections? Is that not an entitlement program, albeit a private one?
Romney’s entire life is a study in entitlement. Yes, he may have been a ruthlessly hard worker (what’s new on Wall Street?), but surely his father’s success in business and politics greased the wheels of Mitt’s life and fortune. Like a monarch, he was handed the keys to whichever empire he liked—ultimately, he chose both business and politics.
In 1963, when Mitt’s father, George Romney, was sworn in as Governor of Michigan, a 16 year-old Mitt became an intern. Mitt also met powerful people in business and politics at the 1964 Republican National Convention, in which his father was actively involved. Like George W. Bush, Mitt was never a great student, but still managed to gain entry to Stanford University. Must have been personal achievement and all of the extra-curricular activities. It couldn’t possibly have been his father’s influence, right?
While on missionary work in France, Romney lived a cushy life as the assistant to the French mission. Again, it simply must have been because of his great personal bona fides as a missionary, and not because of his father’s incredibly influential role in Mormon culture and politics.
Returning to America in 1968, Romney enrolled in BYU, and by 1970 he was again awarded a position in his mother’s election campaign because, yes, he deserved it. He had worked hard for it. It’s similar to the Kennedys, to be sure, but at least they admit how incredibly privileged they were and pledged to work for those who didn’t have it so good.
At 23 years old, Mitt Romney had already enjoyed a level of entitlement that few could possibly attain let alone imagine. The only thing that he’d really worked for was the absurdist task of converting French people to the Mormon religion. By this point he’d also become a solid student (or so we’re told), and easily enrolled in Harvard’s dual J.D./M.B.A. program, then newly-created.
Now, in fairness to Mitt, he established his own name in business, leading to his success first with Bain & Company, then with off-shoot Bain Capital. But, in a very real sense, his success in both business and politics was pre-ordained. He was the prodigal son. Every possibly opportunity was his for the taking. Does this make him necessarily a bad person? Not at all.
It only means that instead of government assistance, Mitt had access to vastly superior assistance from his father, his mother, and their business and political connections. His experience is wholly unlike the 47% he is so quick to define, as if he somehow knew any one of them or their unique stations in life.
Perhaps if his parents had lost everything, and Mitt had been forced to start from scratch, he could more easily sympathize with the plebeians.
[Photo: Jessica Rinaldi/Reuters]