The media is having its usual field day with Mitt Romney's wife Ann Romney's recent statement that she doesn't consider herself to be wealthy. In an interview Monday on Fox News, the GOP front-runner's wife was asked about criticism that her husband is out-of-touch with average Americans because he is worth $250 million.
She replied, "I don't even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing." From Wash Po to The Daily Caller, Ann Romney's statement is making the media rounds, highlighted by liberal bloggers as even further evidence that Mitt Romney is a wealthy 1% who does not represent middle class Americans.
What this bevy of headlines leaves out is the second part of Ann Romney's quote. Consider her remarks in full context and she sounds quite a bit different:
"I don't even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing. It can be here today and gone tomorrow," she said, "and how I measure riches is by the friends I have and the loved ones I have and the people I care about in my life and that is where my values are and those are my riches so for me having done through a difficult period in my life both with MS and with breast cancer it has done something to my heart and it has softened my heart and made me realize there are many people suffering in this country and they are suffering from things that aren't financial -- and some people are suffering from things that are financial, as well -- but those that are suffering, for me, I just have a larger capacity for love and for understanding."
So is Ann Romney a compassionate-less 1%, or is this yet another case of the media parsing public figures' words to capture clicks?
Mitt Romney has had more than his fair share of rhetoric blunders when discussing his wealth (see Akil Alleyne's great summary here), but this is not one of those cases. To the contrary, Ann Romney makes a heartful and genuine money-can't-but-health-and-happiness point, a message that we could all learn from.
What annoys me about the coverage of Mitt Romney this election cycle is the media's tendency to attack Romney for being wealthy. In an effort to grab headlines, the media highlights stories that prove Mitt Romney is wealthy (like the recent dustup after Romney said he has "friends who own NASCAR teams"), as if being rich is a fatal flaw, or worse should be demonized. These kind of ad hominem attacks are simplistic and don't get at the real question that the media should be asking: Do Mitt Romney's policies work to protect only the 1%, or will they stimulate growth for the middle class and reverse income inequality?
That's an entirely different debate, one that we should be having.
News flash: President Obama is no pauper. So, let's stop treating Romney's wealth as an automatic disqualifier for him being a strong candidate for president.
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