Ann Romney’s memories of college

Michelle Obama last night talked about a young Barack picking her up in a car with rusted out door panels, remembering she could see the road through the holes.  The President had this to say about his first car:

“I have to confess; my first car was my grandfather’s car,” Obama told AAA in an interview. “Which was a Ford Granada.” While the Ford Motor Company “is doing great now,” Obama said the Granada “was not the peak of Detroit engineering.” “It rattled and it shook,” Obama said. “And I don’t think the girls were particularly impressed when I came to pick them up in a Ford Granada.”

You know what?” Obama told AAA. “It moved and so I have fond memories of the fact that it got me to where I needed to go. That’s about all I can say about the Ford Granada.” (See the source for this HERE.)

My first car I paid $500 for.  It was a nice, candy-apple red 1965 Malibu.  It dies four months after I bought it. The second car I owned was a worn-out, dull-tan 1964 Malibu.  When I would fill up with oil, I would check the gas. I used to joke I got paid to drive through neighborhoods to kill mosquitoes. Of course, it cost me nothing up front—I was told if I could get it started and drive it out of the back yard, I could have it. Drove it for two years. I did live in a garage apartment without air conditioning and in Arkansas, in the summer, it could get a little, well, swampy in there. The box fan just sort of moved the air around.

A lot of us had starts like that because there was no other way to get started.

I guess this is why Ann Romney’s college memories bothered me. Desk was an old door set on sawhorses.  They ate pasta and tuna fish on an ironing board. Their carpet was patched together form remnants.

I actually wondered what they had done to irritate their wealthy and well-connected families. I also think that had they gotten into real financial difficulty, one or the other of their families—if not both—would have been there for them and bailed them out.

What she forgot to say in her speech is that neither needed a job, neither had to work in the cafeteria or sell shoes or wash cars to pay for tuition and food and books and stuff because they squeaked by on the sale of some AMC stock Mitt had been given from his father, a few thousand shares at about $95 a share, maybe about $400,000 in today’s dollars. Maybe they did live as she described, but it was not out of necessity.

When I was a senior in college, one of the guys I knew told me he had gotten as much as he could of low-cost student loans and saved them because his parents paid for everything and that when he graduated, he was going to put a serious down payment on a nice house with the loan proceeds.  This irritated the bejeesus out of me.  I borrowed as little as I could and worked as much as I could—actually more than was good for my health considering the demands of the classes I was taking—to get through. While the Romney’s did not do this (at least it has not been said they did), the faux-poverty shtick bothered me.

Why can they not be like George W.? He admitted he made his way through family connections, which were probably better than Romney’s.

Mitt and Ann should say,” Yes, we came from privilege, from wealth. We were lucky because most do not. We cannot know how it feels to be without and are tortured for those who do not have enough to eat.  We want to help.” or something along those lines.

This is not a reason not to vote for Romney in and of itself, but I wish they would just be who they are: very wealthy and fortunate people who want to serve the country.  If elected, he would not be the wealthiest president—that honor probably goes to George Washington (estimated $500 million in today’s dollars) or Thomas Jefferson (about half of George) or JFK (the family was worth more than $1 Billion—how much he was worth is debatable). 

We do not hate wealth in this country. We even admire those who did it themselves. Disingenuousness, however, we root out and eschew.

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