A lot has been made of Gov. Mitt Romney’s wealth. Democrats have said that it has left him out of touch, void of empathy and, in part unfit for the presidency. Assuming that this is true, perhaps we should look back to our previous presidents to see if this thesis – that wealth alone disqualifies a candidate – has previously held true.
Former President John F. Kennedy was mentioned throughout the Democrat Convention in September. In inflation adjusted dollars, the then-familial wealth of the Kennedy clan has been estimated by “Time Magazine” at greater than $1 billion.
The distinction of our personally wealthiest former president though, falls to perhaps our greatest, George Washington, although Kennedy makes this list as well. “Time” also placed Washington’s wealth, in 2010 inflation-adjusted dollars, at $525 million. Michael Klepper and Robert Gunther, co-authors of “The Wealthy 100: A Ranking of the Richest Americans, Past and Present,” placed Washington at 59th. Romney’s personal wealth of $250 million comes in at less than half of Washington’s. Admittedly, some of Washington’s wealth came from plantations and Kennedy’s from our prohibition years, as has Romney’s from outsourcing.
The Christian Science Monitor’s ranks our top 10 wealthiest presidents – at time of office – and that list includes: Thomas Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, James Madison and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Last February, NBC listed presidents in terms of their highest personal moment of wealth, President Bill Clinton, “The Great Empathizer,” came in at No. 9.
Adding presidential candidates into their ranking of presidential wealth, The Huffington Post ranks Romney third wealthiest, among officer holders and party nominees, right above Sen. John Kerry. He was listed as having a minimum net worth of $240 million, roughly equivalent to 96 percent of Romney’s.
This same list has Clinton and then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, coming in at sixth and seventh, respectively, with Vice President Al Gore coming in fifth. Five of the top 10 to make the list are Democrats, four are Republicans, and Ross Perot, an independent, is the wealthiest.
Vice President Joe Biden has pointed out that Romney’s father ran a business. Romney’s father, an immigrant fleeing Mexican religious persecution, lived on government assistance in El Paso, Texas, and never obtained a college degree. That is the epitome of the American dream.
Perhaps we should look at charitable acts then.
Romney is required by his Mormon doctrines to tithe 10 percent of his salary. Forbes lists those donations over the past two years as more than $4.1 million. In 2010, Romney’s charity gave $20,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Boston. Forbes lists the total lifetime value of the Romneys’ donations at $18 million. During his youth, Romney traveled to Europe as part of his religious commitments, at a similar age Kennedy toured Europe in a convertible.
The comparable Democrat, Kerry, according to author Peter Schweizer, gave nothing to charity in 1995, while spending half a million dollars on one painting. In 2001, then-first lady Hillary Clinton famously noted used underwear as a charitable deduction, as reported by “Time”.
In 2009, the Obamas gave 5.9 percent of their income to charity; comparatively former President George W. Bush gave 10 percent throughout his terms, effectively giving more than Obama, on less than half of the new increased presidential paycheck.
Wealth has become a partisan disqualifier when we have no historical basis on which to place this as a legitimate belief, nor Democrat example of it affecting their selections.