Thursday, May 17, 2007

For What It's Worth

Days Until Bush Leaves Office = 613

The SF278 financial disclosure reports for (most of) the presidential candidates are in, and the news, as usual, isn't really news: the person you support for President - from whatever side of the aisle - is rich as Croesus, probably.

Here are some candidate net worth highlights gleaned from the filings:

Edwards: $22 - $62 million
Giuliani: $20 - $70 million
Richardson: $3.5 - $10.1 million
Brownback: $3.3 - $8.7 million
Dodd: $1.5 - $3.5 million
Hunter: $1 - $2.4 million
Obama: $456,000 - $1,140,000
Huckabee: $350,000 - $900,000
Biden: $62,000 - $428,000

By some stunning coincidence, those candidates expected to report the highest financial worth have all filed with the F.E.C. for 45 day extensions on completing their disclosure reports:
Romney: expected to report $190 - $250 million
Clinton: expected to report at least $50 million
McCain: expected to report at least $15 million

Historically, American voters tend to view wealth among their political leaders with indulgence, and, golly-gee-gosh Zelda, we all know a million dollars isn't what it used to be. But there's also tension in the public mind between tolerance for wealth among political leaders and contempt for the way that same wealth separates "them" from "us." The Edwards haircut thing and Giuliani's missteps in setting up a campaign event at an Iowa farm earlier this month are but the latest examples of this, and one needn't look very hard to find lots of others.

So, whether Democrat or Republican, we'll glance over these figures with a mixture of suspicion, pride, envy, and bemusement. And then we'll move on to other things, as is probably wise. From our first president, a landed aristocrat, to the current occupant at 1600, Americans usually don't let great personal wealth cloud our view of who we'll vote in to the highest office in the land. And isn't that broad minded of us?


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