Even without doing the math, and all that pesky researchy stuff, it is apparent that many tens of millions are eligible to be President.
For the sake of all of us, it would be helpful were we to choose the most able to sit in that chair.
I accept, have always accepted that no one is perfect. Not me, not you, not President Obama and certainly not Mitt Romney.
For years I had a different pithy little saying that attached to the comments I leave in this place:
"When we deny our politicians their humanity, we force them to behave inhumanely".
Such is the constant scrutiny of our elected representatives, and so great is the polarisation of political thought, that the slightest character flaw, the tiniest deviation from one side's judgement of what is acceptable is magnified and examined in excruciating detail.
To what end?
Personally, I could care less if my representative is black, white, female or male, hetero or homosexual. I care only what they do. Honestly, I don't even much care what they say, or to whom, although some common decency is always nice.
When members of the same family rise, or even almost rise to the highest Office, then I begin to suspect that we might not be picking the best person for the job. That applies to the Kennedys just as much as it does to the Bush family. It is possible that two brothers could be simply that good, but it's not likely. I am open to the argument that we don't need the best, but we need "good enough", and that might let Bobby Kennedy, or Malia Obama in; it is no excuse for George Bush.
So the process is imperfect, yet we muddle through somehow because of a series of checks and balances. In reality I guess we are fishing in a pretty small pool. Not everyone is interested in politics, ruling out most people. The children and other family members of Senators, Governors and Presidents are both well-connected and likely to be interested ... and so we whittle down the potential incumbents to a much smaller subset, and hope we pick the best from there.
While it was always the case that wealthier people could indulge in politics, and afford to get elected, there was at least the semblance of a meritocracy. Candidates could start locally, with School Boards, City Councils, State Legislatures, etc. With millions of dollars now being dumped even in State Elections, that possibility has all but disappeared and the very wealthy are simply anointing their chosen candidate.
Even the Democrats are forced to play this "dance of the dollar", because advertising works and a candidate that can't get elected is about as useless as a very useless thing. Sure we want to change that, but we live in a reality based community, and change requires votes.
So what of the presumptive
nominee appointee of the Republican Party?
My basic question is not about his politics. It should be clear that I disagree with those, fundamentally disagree, absolutely disagree. The Left has no right to be ... er ... right, we just think that we are, and we feel also that we have plenty of evidence suggesting the same.
My concern is the man. His basic character and the evidence we have for that. Is he a man who can be expected to lead the country towards a vision that he feels is right for Americans, or is he not? Even from the perspective of Republicans, that is a pertinent question. Would Willard Mitt Romney adopt policies that the bulk of his supporters feel are appropriate, or is it all about Willard Mitt Romney? If it is the latter then we could be in for a great deal of hurt should he prevail in November.
There are a number of indicators that are helpful in this regard. The Oligarchs who are bankrolling him initially presumed that his experience at Bain Capital was key to his election. America was in trouble. The economy had tanked and the way forward was a businessman who was demonstrably successful, at business .... well at making money anyhow, and the deficit being what it is, money-making is a winner.
What soon became clear was that Mitt Romney is very good at making money, for Mitt Romney. The underlying businesses (America?) were going broke at an alarming rate, so they stopped talking about Bain. Indeed, the candidate would now prefer that we do not ever mention Bain again. The trouble is that without Bain, all Mitt has is RomneyCare. That kinda sucks if you are being pressured from the Right.
If Bain Capital demonstrates one thing very clearly, it is simply that should they knock on the door of your business, then you probably should be slamming it firmly shut, and if that door is leading to the Oval Office, then we all should be slamming it shut.
Beyond the professional life of Romney lie the things that drive him personally. Not the ego that is required of anyone that seeks the Presidency, that is normal, more the actions he has taken that go to character. As described earlier, I don't care about his habits or indiscretions. His religion is of no interest beyond him keeping it to himself, and his wife's dressage horse is relevant only in the tax treatment.
For the motivations that make the man tick, we need to look to the Tax Returns.
Of particular concern is the constant mantra from Governor and Mrs Romney that they "paid everything they were legally obliged to pay". This is a disingenuous statement that is breathtaking in it's scope. I am not concerned here with the fact that he had an income last year of twenty million dollars. I am more bothered by the manner in which his Campaign is obfuscating, and how he is using that phrase "we paid what we were legally obliged to".
If you are a working stiff, like nearly all Americans, you minimise your Federal Tax obligation. That is what we all do, and it is right and proper that we should. The middle class lives on their income, and times are hard. We claim our deductions and we seek to maximise those. The tax code is designed that way. If you do not approach your 1040 with the ambition of reducing the net payment, then you are simply treating the IRS, and your fellow citizens, to a gift. This approach to taxes reaches quite high into the earnings brackets, as we all live on our incomes, even those whose income is quite high.
No one in their right mind blames any regular tax-payer for doing this, and the aforementioned phrase is something we all relate to. Romney is actually relying on this to make himself appear honest, a working stiff, an ordinary Joe (but no Plumber). Someone who is in touch with common practise and so can relate to you and me.
There comes a point though, when an individual reaches an income level that exceeds their need to support a lifestyle, even a lavish one. Mitt Romney reached that point a long time ago. In many decades he has not had to worry about a single dollar, or million dollars, that he spends. It is likely that he is so rich that none of his children, or indeed grandchildren, will ever have to concern themselves with money.
So my concern is this. At what point does should an individual be expected to stop maximising deductions. At what level of income, or wealth, is it appropriate that a citizen should quit seeking ever more creative ways to pay less tax. Does there come a level beyond which the pursuit of more wealth, for a smaller contribution to the general good indicates a serious character flaw. I wouldn't necessarily hold that against an individual, but I might question his qualification for President.
Is it, for example, fair and reasonable that a man with maybe several hundred million dollars stashed away is using a Swiss Bank Account, or any other tax shelter many of dubious legality, to pay not just less tax as a proportion of his income that regular taxpayers, but substantially less, massively less? So much less that were Romney and Ryan allowed to implement their plans, he would have paid less than one percent last year.
Is a man prepared to go to those lengths to avoid any meaningful contribution to the nation in any position to be telling the rest of us how much we should pay, or how much we might be entitled to?
Even if he has paid "everything we are legally obliged to pay".
Is that a sentiment that should garner respect for financial probity, or repulsion for what it says about his concern and care for the American people?
Quite frankly, if Mitt Romney were suited to the Office he is so desperately seeking, he would be demanding that capital gains be taxed at the individuals marginal rate.
Of course then he would be Warren Buffet!
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A much expanded version of the Diary was published in The GOS Weekly during August 2012. Get your copy, and enjoy all the pics, videos and helpful "linky" bits including Community response to the failure to produce