July 07, 2004

Rich Ticket

One of the Republican attacks on the Kerry-Edwards ticket, is that this is the "Rich Man's" tickets.

The Wealth Factor: Democrats Field a Pair of Well-Heeled Running Mates

WASHINGTON, July 6 - Democrats spoke Tuesday of a presidential ticket rich in experience and leadership, but Senators John Kerry and John Edwards are certainly rich in other ways as well.

Mr. Kerry is married to Teresa Heinz Kerry, the food heiress whose wealth is estimated at more than $500 million. And Mr. Edwards, who earned his wealth as a trial lawyer, reported assets worth $14.3 million to $44.7 million in his most recent financial disclosure statement.

"This has to be one of the richest tickets in U.S. history," said Kevin Phillips, an author of books on wealth and politics.

As a practical matter, the candidates' wealth should have little direct impact on the financing of their campaign. Though Mr. Kerry used a second mortgage on his home in the Beacon Hill section of Boston to help finance his primary race, he and Mr. Edwards will not be allowed to use their own money for their general election campaign if they opt to accept public financing, as they are expected to do.

As a political and symbolic matter, however, their wealth offers Republicans the chance to portray the Democrats as blue-bloods far removed from their populist, middle-class message, despite their railing against tax cuts for the rich.

"A billionaire has picked a millionaire," said a Republican strategist who spoke on condition of anonymity, in what amounted to a preview of a possible attack strategy. "They're part of the rich and privileged America that they will condemn on a daily basis. You will see a dichotomy between the wealth and the message."

Of course, Democrats note that President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney are men of considerable means themselves. Mr. Bush became a multimillionaire as an owner of the Texas Rangers baseball team, and Mr. Cheney earned millions of dollars as the head of the Halliburton Company.

Okay. The Republicans might think this is a good attack. But there are the rich, and then there are the rich. It was interesting that this article used Kevin Phillips for a quote. One wonders if he might have had something more to say about this "rich ticket". And maybe he might say something like what came from this review of his book documenting the Bush family and their multigenerational desire to make their wealth off war and power:

So what kind of family has, in its own eyes, regained its rightful inheritance? It's a family that has become accustomed to privilege:

"By the mid-twentieth century, connections and crony capitalism had become the family economic staple, with emphasis on the rewards of finance, and instinctive policymaking fealty to the investment business. The Bushes have produced no college presidents or stonemasons, no scientists or plumbing contractors—generally speaking, their progeny have become almost exclusively financial entrepreneurs."

As this quote suggests, the Bush dynasty differs from other American families that have mixed wealth with political prominence. While the Kennedys and the Rockefellers may have a sense of entitlement, they also display a sense of noblesse oblige—what one might call an urge to repay, with charitable contributions and public service, their good fortune. The Bushes don't have that problem; there are no philanthropists or reformers in the clan. They seek public office but, if anything, they seem to feel that the public is there to serve them.

One thing we can be sure about, Kerry and Edwards will not try to rob the country to enrich their friends and eviscerate our constitution. And it should be pretty easy for John Edwards to make sure Americans really understand the Bush tax cuts and what they have done to our country. So, let the Republicans try to make this case. Bush and Cheney better watch out.

Posted by Mary at July 7, 2004 06:53 AM | Elections | Technorati links |

The interesting thing about this is that the Republicans have tried to become the populist party, the people that the average person relates to best. But their damning critique of supposed inauthenticity against the Dems is that they're too rich to carry their own message, turning the whole veneer on its head if you're watching for the contradictions.

Posted by: natasha at July 7, 2004 07:12 AM

And, oh yes, Georgie and Dick come from poor and humble upbringings. At least Edwards earned his fortune helping others and Kerry served his country. Bush and Cheney avoided real service, one stole from the public to help his fortune grow and the other failed in every venture in his life; saved only by daddy's wallet. I'll take our "rich" ticket anyday!

Posted by: Scott at July 8, 2004 12:02 AM

You wrote: "One thing we can be sure about, Kerry and Edwards will not try to rob the country to enrich their friends...." All politicians reward supporters. Do you think tort reform will be a Kerry/Edwards priority?

As for robbing the country, Bush's 7 trillion dollar Medicare giveaway to non-poor elderly was criticized by Democrats, for not being generous enough! The problem isn't corruption, it's 'rent seeking' under the welfare state. The bigger government gets, the bigger the problem becomes.

Posted by: John Doe at July 10, 2004 05:03 AM