On Hair and Privilege

There’s no better illustration of the intellectual bankruptcy of the Right than a comparison of Mitt Romney and John Edwards.

And yes, I’m talking about the hair. Righties cannot speak of Edwards without calling him the “Breck girl.” Surely Mitt goes through as much shampoo as John. The point, of course, is to feminize Edwards, but I say if either of these two leans more toward yin than yang, Mitt’s the guy. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

And speaking of guys with hair …

We could analyze all of the presidents and their coiffures, but I suspect there is little correlation between hair quality and job performance. Or masculinity, for that matter. John Kennedy’s alleged lasting contribution to men’s fashion was the death of the hat (Snopes questions this). Whatever the cause, fedoras for daytime wear did disappear suddenly about the time JFK was elected — the better to see a guy’s hair, my dears. But no one has ever questioned JFK’s manliness, as far as I know.

No matter. Someone introduced the “Breck girl” comment into American political discourse, and righties (plus Mo Dowd) picked it up and can’t let go of it.

And then there’s the wealth issue. David Leonhardt writes in today’s New York Times that Edwards and Romney both made fortunes in the 1980s. Yet Edwards is running on economic populism an Romney is a “free markets” guy.

The two men represent a clear divide between the Democratic and Republican parties over whether the government should redistribute more wealth, from the rich downward, now that economic inequality is greater than it has been since the 1920s.

I’d like to point out that ordinary working people created most of that wealth. Inequality doesn’t grow because the wealthy are somehow more deserving and working stiffs less so; it grows because the wealthy are able to control the wealth distribution system to their advantage. The role of government is not to take money away from the rich to give to the poor, but to keep the wealthy from gaming the system.

And this is good for us all in the long run, primarily because a nation with a large and upwardly mobile middle class is likely to be a politically stable nation; a nation in which most of the population is shut out of enjoying the wealth they create with their labor is asking for revolution.

Mr. Romney and Mr. Edwards also represent a divide among the affluent themselves. Many of the new wealthy — the great majority, in all likelihood — see their success as a sign of this country’s economic strength. Yet there is also a minority — including Mr. Buffett and William H. Gates Sr., Mr. Gates’s father, who have both opposed eliminating the estate tax — worried about inequality. …

… Every leading Democratic candidate has proposed rescinding the Bush administration’s tax cuts on households making at least $250,000, saying the money can be better used on programs to help the middle class. Every leading Republican candidate favors making the tax cuts permanent, saying that tax increases would hurt economic growth and, by extension, the middle class.

It may be significant that Edwards is the son of a mill worker and Romney is the son of an automobile executive. Romney explicitly denies there are two Americas, but it’s possible he’s never lived in America. Instead, he has lived his whole life in the Privilege Bubble.

Yet, on the Right, Edwards is called out for being a prissy poseur. Byron York wrote in September:

By the way, Edwards’s line, “I was brought home to a two-room house in a mill village” was carefully crafted, a reflection of his years of experience as a personal injury lawyer. Yes, after he was born he was brought home to a small house. But within a year his family moved to a better house as his father, a mill worker, began a rise that eventually made him a supervisor.

Did I mention Mitt’s dad was an auto executive? But the implication is that because Edwards has money now, he can’t possibly be sincere about wanting to help working people get a fair deal. Or else people who wish to help the poor are supposed to be poor. Or something. But in American history there have been other well-off people who fought plutocracy and tried to even the playing field.

Theodore, in fact, made a point of stepping out of the privilege bubble to hang out with cowboys and woodsmen. Franklin’s point of view likely was shaped by polio. Along with the various Roosevelts, the Kennedys — wealthier, I believe, than the Roosevelts — also came to be a fairly liberal/populist group.

The Right cannot honestly debate Edwards’s proposals, or much of anything else, so they fall back on criticizing Edwards’s looks and lifestyle without bothering to examine their own guys in the same light. Did I say something about intellectual bankruptcy? I believe I did.

Update: An editorial from the Concord Monitor — “Romney should not be the next president.”

16 thoughts on “On Hair and Privilege

  1. They fear the “patrician reformer,” a tradition that goes all the way back to the founders and can be traced all the way through Samuel Tilden, WJ Bryan, TR, FDR, JFK, and LBJ – and that’s when the cons figured out they needed to do something. So they inverted the narrative to make the “liberals” the “elites,” and the property owners the “victims.” This is why Edwards terrifies them so much. Which in itself is an indication to me that Edwards is exactly what this country needs right now.

  2. “Romney explicitly denies there are two Americas, but it’s possible he’s never lived in America”. He actually grew up (or spent a good portion of his youth) in Grand Bend Ontario…a resort community on Lake Huron near London. His father George was governor of Michigan and the cottage at Grand Bend was an hour drive from the border at Port Huron. I heard a spot on Detroit radio the other day in which Romney is saying “I will protect you against Islamofascism if you elect me” blah, blah, blah. He is clueless and IMO does not stand a chance of been elected unless by some fluke the supreme court gets involved. “When Mitt Romney was 15 and campaigning for his dad’s bid for governor, he told reporters it was the first time he’d celebrated Independence Day in the U.S. That wasn’t a great line,” he told the Boston Globe last year. ”


  3. It’s a bit depressing that on the Presidential level, some of the greatest advancements have come from “traitors to their class” like the Roosevelts.

  4. I think you also have to ask re Romney and Edwards how they got their money. Romney had it handed it to him by a rich dad, although he certainly had a successful career after that, while Edwards was the son of a mill worker who got his money suing rich people for cheating or injuring poor people. Hmmm, frankly there may be a moral lesson here that you could take away from this – ol’ multiple choice Mitt believes in an establishment of rich folks who grease the skids for you, while Edwards wants to fuck those people up and make a few bucks off doing it. Don’t know about you, but I like the latter story a lot more than the former.

  5. Those glossy,glossy lips mitt is sporting in the photo make him look a bit suspect to me…Is it spit? If so , gross…Do we need a president who can’t keep his own slobber in his mouth(again)? And if it is gloss ,was the photo taken for jeff gannons male escort site??Who the hell told the right men with shiny lips were tough guy hawks?
    I can’t help but recall photos of our own lizzard lip king george with his little thin lips all glossed up…yike!!, One can only imagine the bathroom floor tapping righties wondering what flavor president mcweenie is wearing…mmmmm..dreamy

  6. I think the fundamental problem is the Economics which has been taught and practised over the last 30 years in this country. This has resulted in the inequality of wealth away from “Physical Economic” activity to the investment model, which seems to create wealth for people just because they have money.
    Financial “Instruments”, “Derivatives” and “Products” are really the problem as we seem to create wealth basically out of no real economic activity. Till we do not get back to real economics where wealth can only be equated with “Physical Products”, there is no real hope for people doing actual work.
    But the problem created over the last three decades is that our best minds have been now conditioned into this “easy” way of becoming wealthy and not the science and technology that is needed to better this world. Hence the rest of the world will take over the leadership as their people are now much more knowledeable and advanced on the “real world” …

  7. The truth is, both Romney and Edwards made their own money. Mitt’s dad had good jobs and was a decent guy, but Mitt is smart and managed to build a private equity firm. He may be a douche bag but he’s no W. He put in plenty of hours at the office and he appears to be reasonably honest.

    That said–Edwards is in a class by himself among the entire field.

    Edwards was reputed to have been one of the greatest plaintiff’s personal injury lawyers ever. Trying complicated medical malpractice cases is grueling work. People have no idea how tough it is to try cases and persuade juries, especially against deeper pocket defendants such as medical malpractice insurance carriers.

    It offends me to hear Edwards criticized for having made money and living well. Much of the criticism is from people WHO HAVE NO IDEA what he did as a lawyer, how he helped individuals who were severely disabled by others’ negligence and lack of care, and how that work ethic, compassionate action and intelligence, if applied to their problems, could move mountains.

    Edwards is the RFK of our time. Pray for his success in Iowa.

  8. I watched the last televised Republican debate. Mitt looked sleezy yo me. His answers were canned and evasive. He seemend as trustworthy as tricky Dick.

    Edward is pulling no punches about the class divisions and the economic trends. None of the other top tier Democrats is hitting the class-warfare issue directly. I was and am pissed he did not support Dodd more directly in the fillibuster. His campaign should have lined up with and maybe behind Dodd because I think Edwards is in agreement, but Edwards could not fillibuster – so he should have stood in solidarity WITH Dodd.

    He’s more specific about campaign reform than any the other candidates, but how he could get the pigs in Congress of BOTH parties to back away from the K-street bribery trough is a mystery. It’s one situation where I would support the executive branch using waterboarding.

  9. The attacks on Edwards’ hair is simply a tactic. Remember: the right doesn’t care about the truth or fairness, they only care about winning. It doesn’t matter to them that Mitt could just as easily be called the Breck guy. Should we point this out to them, they will simply change tactics, Borg-like, and find another way to attack.

    And it worked – the press distracted the public for weeks, and Edwards’ positions have (still) gotten very little air time. Should he somehow manage to become the front runner, expect the attacks to escalate to swift-boat intensity. At that time, he should start to worry about being “Wellstoned”.

    What’s disgusting is the public that puts up with this charade. “But it’s a good shit sandwich”. And they buy it.

  10. allwar isbad: The problem with derivative financial instruments is not intrinsic, but how they are used. The first such (call, puts and futures) were developed to reduce uncertainty in commodities trading; uncertainty being essentially synonymous with risk. “Hedging” ones position allowed one to put a cap on future losses, a floor on future gains, and be certain that a needed resource would be available at a certain price. Perversely, as derivatives have come to be used as speculative investments in their own right, they now are a major source of market instability. The practices of so-called “hedge funds” couldn’t be farther from the the original meaning of their eponym.

  11. The problem here is even worse than what you’re describing. The “Edwards is a hypocrite” stories set a standard that says that a rich guy can’t run for President while advocating policies that help the poor/middle class without being called out. Little problem here: as our political system is currently constructed, it’s virtually impossible for a non-rich person to be a successful Presidential candidate. Therefore, the inevitable outcome is that NO Presidential candidate can advocate for the poor/middle class without being called a hypocrite. And if you think this isn’t deliberate, I have a lovely igloo in Alaska to sell to you.

  12. Pingback: The Heretik : Shine On

  13. I love this part: “his father…began a rise that eventually made him a supervisor.” Being made supervisor always means you go on salary and lose the overtime benefits that go with an hourly wage. I’ve seen so many people take the title and continue to do the work uncompensated.

    It’s a meaningless sop to workers who don’t realize they will never be in charge of anything.

  14. While Mitt isn’t in the slightest bit someone who I would ever vote for, he is completely unlike Bush in that he has had a string of successful endeavors: starting Bain, the Salt Lake City Olympics, even a half-way ok governor. He also comes from a way better family in terms of character. He actually did well at Harvard Law (which is the entire credential sported by Barry O).

    You all may consider this statement and think on it and discuss among yourselves: notwithstanding the idiocy that comes out of his mouth – he’s better than all the other GOP fools out there. Not a jackbooted mobster. Not a thieving fundy minister. Not senile and in bed with Joe L. Not Fred who who has bad health and has no real stomach for this. Not that liberal-darling, senile Ron Paul who actually holds nazi-fied views on most issues.

    Moonbat- I totally agree with your fear of his being “Wellstoned”. What happened to RFK could happen to him too. Still and all, he deserves a chance, despite any danger.

    Polls I’ve seen have him even or ahead in Iowa. Of most people I know — including rich people and the fairly conservative ones — Edwards is their choice (exceptions being defense attorneys and the ugly). Yet the press and the leading repubs ignore him, hoping he will go away.

    Why? Because he is precisely the sort of candidate that can win. Obama is a joke, an empty suit with no real policies that aren’t repub talking points and a voting record of “present”; and HRC, while highly qualified, is disliked by too many people. Moreover, it appears that only false stories, a big house and a $400 haircut (cheap in NYC among high school girls!) can harm him.

    As an aside, I’ve often considered that he (and Mitt too) suffer from being TOO good-looking. This evokes jealousy from the bald, the fat and the ugly. Remember those commercials “don’t hate me because I’m beautiful”? Exactly.

  15. Right on Stella. Somehow if working people earn a raise or a promotion that is supposed to undercut their credibility. This is especially entertaining coming from those whose “meritocracy” gave us Michael Brown and the entire current crop of incompetents.

    Beckya57, my folks lived in Alaska for many years and with global warming and all, I would be very interested in your igloo. I have a nice farm in the North Carolina desert for trade.

  16. Mitt wants to double Guantanamo. What more needs to be said to understand how fucked up his head is? He’s just not getting it. Well, or maybe I’m just not getting it.. and holding on to meaningless concepts with childhood slogans like..”truth, justice, and the American way”.

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