Romney’s Envy “Rosebud”

Jan 29 2012 @ 10:00pm

Noam Scheiber contrasts Mitt with his father George:

“I was kicked out of Mexico when I was five years old, because the Mexicans were envious of the fact that my people, who, when they went down there, were just as poor as the Mexicans, … became prosperous,”[George Romney]  said in a speech in 1961. “The Mexicans thought, if they could just take it away from the Mormon settlers, it would be paradise. It just didn’t work that way, of course.” …

[T]he elder Romney’s response to this slightly stunted analysis was admirably progressive. It was one of the reasons he favored foreign aid, an end to discrimination, and subsidized preschool and summer school. He was the model of a ’60s-era, liberal Republican. Romney fils, on the other hand, has responded to the same analysis in a strikingly different way. Like his father, Mitt Romney worries about those who would demonize wealth and success. But, whereas George sought to ease their plight, Mitt seeks to demonize the demonizers. It’s as though Mitt inherited all of his father’s noblesse, but none of the oblige.

Reihan makes an important distinction:

The political tendency Romney is criticizing is not a “politics of envy” driven by “the frustrations of the down-and-out.” Rather, he is, I suspect, criticizing a “politics of envy” driven by relatively privileged people who tend to be more concerned about the competition for positional goods in dense metropolitan areas than about chronic unemployment and underemployment in marginalized communities.