Tuesday, April 8, 2008

"Regular Guys?"

Another thought about the candidates' tax returns. Hillary released hers last week; since 2000, the Clintons have made $109 million. My pocket calculator shows that's over $13 million a year, which means Hillary's average year is about 10 times as good as Obama's best year. Her charitable giving totaled out to about $10 million in that time, so almost 10% overall. Most of the contributions were to the Clinton Family Foundation, which distributes the money to other charities, so it's not all been "officially" given away yet, but by law, it eventually will be. John McCain hasn't released his returns yet, but given the fact that his wife is a multi-zillionaire heiress, let's just guess that he's not hurting. I found a link that posted the return info of George and Laura Bush (sorry, no link... can't get on blogger at home these days, and it's on that computer). The Bushes made about $800,000 a year and gave away a little over 10% a year.

Here's the funny thing. By these numbers, Obama is the most "normal" guy of the bunch. In this case "normal" only means that he has made between 5 and 30 times as much as an average family over the past few years, while the Bushes have made an average of 16 times the national average year in and year out (not counting the house and the plane). And the Clintons, bless their hearts, have averaged 270 times the median family income of $48,000 a year. Yet if you look at voting patterns, Obama comes across as the most "elite" of the bunch. Hillary's getting the six-pack democrats, while Obama is getting the champagne and latte set. (And of course, Bush gets, or at least used to get, NASCAR.) It hardly seems fair that a guy whose granddad was a senator and whose dad was president, who attended Andover (for a while), Yale, and Harvard business school, gets to be seen as a "regular guy" while another guy who went to Columbia and Harvard after rising from a pretty unusual family background comes across as the "Ivy League" candidate.

Maybe it's because he can't bowl. (Obama bowled a 37 over 7 frames a week ago... whoever talked him into THAT photo-op should be fired.) Maybe it's because Bush can throw a baseball. (In the only good press old W has gotten in months, he threw out the first pitch of the season last week: heat, a little high, right down the middle). Maybe it's because Bush mangles the language (hey, it worked for Ike!). But you often hear people ask, "which candidate would you rather have a beer with?" My gut says that Obama would order some yuppie micro-brew that nobody has ever heard of. Hillary would order whatever the focus group told her was the favorite of the locals. Bush, of course, would not order a beer, reminding us that he gave that up years ago. I wonder what McCain would do? He radiates "Miller Lite." But his checkbook says "Dom Perignon." I think that's one reason Romney didn't make it.

Let's face it--none of the people at that level are "normal." And we wouldn't want them to be. But their ability to at least relate to us little guys is key to getting a job that makes them even LESS normal.


mbellison said...

Obama might not be able to bowl, but he's got game out on the basketball court. A stark contrast from Hillary who in North Carolina referred to halftime of a basketball game as "the halftime," thus betraying her complete and utter lack of knowledge about basketball.

And Obama had a Yuengling while campaigning in PA.

Coach Sal said...

I hear Obama plays b-ball with the secret service assigned to him. He likes to play with them because secret service guys never want to take a shot. (GROAN!)

I heard about the Yuengling. That's pretty "regular." (and the beer of choice when I have one.)Although I also heard that his doing so upset the teamsters, who have some beef with the brewery.

MichaelPolutta said...

OH good grief. Now BEER is political?

Give me a nice Killian's or a good IPA. Me likey.

mbellison said...

Obama's body man is Reggie Love, who played football and basketball for Duke and was on their 2001 national championship team.

super Hubby said...

I'd like to see him with a 12 pack of Billy Beer.

Lori Fitzgerald said...

Yuengling is the oldest brewery in PA. I have a feeling Obama chugged that one back for the photo op.

My thoughts on beer (from back in the day when I could have beer...oh, the day...) - Killian's or nothing, baby.

Goode Design said...

mike, didn't you hear? You can't get elected if you don't know all there is to know @ basketball. I wouldn't stand a chance since I would also call the half time of a basketball game "the halftime."

The nerve of Billary! But hey! If that helps her not get elected, all the better.

bekster said...

Why wouldn't we want them (presidential candidates) to be normal (financially speaking)? What is the connection between their wealth and them having qualifications that make them a better president? Is is that, to even get that far, they have to have money for campaigning? Throughout our history, have politicians ALWAYS been rich, or did they become rich once they were already politicians? In general (looking at people in the media who, admittedly, I don't actually know), it seems to me that the more money someone has, the LESS in touch with reality they actually are... UNLESS they have made their money BECAUSE they are in touch with reality.

It does seem funny that Obama's image is sorta backwards...

Coach Sal said...

When I say we wouldn't want them to be "average," I mean in terms of their intelligence, education, and general success (which often tracks pretty well with making a good living, but not necessarily so).

That said, my favorite modern Democrat never went to college and failed in business (Truman), and my favorite modern Republican graduated from Eureka College of Tampico, Illinois (Reagan). And of course, Carter was a nuclear sub officer and high-ranking Annapolis grad, and Herbert Hoover was allegedly the smartest guy in America. So credentials are not necessarily the best (or at least not the only) way to pick a leader. If they were, George H. W. Bush would have his face on Rushmore.

bekster said...

LOL, Herbert Hoover... I can't think of his name without hearing Archie and Edith Bunker singing, "...mister, we could use a man like Herbert Hoover again..."

Anyway, on "relating to the little guy," I think there is a difference between being on the outside looking in at the little guy and actually BEING a little guy. I'm not sure which is better in a president. I can see how it could be an advantage to be "above" the people for whom you make decisions because you would maybe be able to see the big picture better. But, if you don't have a good concept of how those decisions actually affect the people's lives, it could be a disadvantage.

It has to be so tricky for politicians to figure out how they want to present themselves to the public. People are "wowed" by the socially elite (whether their standing comes from wealth, education, smarts, or all of the above), but they tend to "like" people who come across as being more down to earth and "real." How does anyone successfully combine the two images without being dishonest?


"...Didn't need no welfare state. Everybody pulled his weight. Gee, our old LaSalle ran great..." (Well, at least with practice--doing less than 8 minutes per mile.) :)

"Those were the days..."

Goode Design said...

I'd like to see someone with ABOVE AVERAGE moral fiber and character run for office... Example: Truett Cathy.