Plutocratic Pride of America

In the latest of what is likely to become a long series of efforts to come up with an effective way to deal with the interlocking issues of income inequality and his own wealth, Mitt Romney’s trying to apply his foreign policy mantra of “No Apologies!” to plutocrats, treating them (and himself) as sort of a national treasure. Check out this passage from a speech to Tea Party supporters in Philadelphia yesterday:

“If I’m so fortunate to become president, I will not apologize for America’s success at home, and I would certainly not apologize for America’s success abroad,” Romney said to cheers from the crowd of several hundred members of the Independence Hall Tea Party Association.

B’lieve you need to send this message back to the ol’ wordsmithies, Mitt. You don’t have to have a lot of faith in the power of inequality as an issue to think it’s a bad idea to treat the rich-getting-richer as a bright spot in an economy which you persist as describing as ruined and faltering. And it’s equally dubious to conflate the individual success of some Americans at getting and spending with national pride. Perhaps Romney is anticipating the Olympics (a subject he does know something about), when Americans will indeed exhibit a collective interest in the competitive exploits of individuals representing us. But I’m not sure that dynamic extends to the “game” of gross individual accumulation of wealth. Does, say, Sheldon Adelson’s ability to harvest billions from the fleshpots of Macau make you proud to be an American? When Obama suggests the very rich should pay their fair share of taxes, is he “apologizing” for America’s success? I don’t think so.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.