Mitt Romney held a fundraiser in the Hamptons on Sunday, during which wealthy people who drive very nice cars and chomp cigars demonstrated their disconnect from the working classes, according to three reliable news sources.
Let’s first establish the relevant facts. Just how did all of these 1 percenters transport themselves from their expensive city apartments to the “pine tree-lined” estate where the fundraisers was held? The Associated Press discovered that donors arrived driving “Mercedes, Bentleys — and, in one case, a candy red 2013 Ferrari Spider.” The Los Angeles Times, also noting that rich people tend to own expensive cars, reported on the “line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming cherry red Ferrari” waiting to get into the fundraiser. The New York Times spotted—you guessed it!—“a line of gleaming Bentleys, Porsches and Mercedes-Benzes” queuing outside the venue. This reminded me of a San Francisco Chronicle headline from last year, during the height of the media’s mania for all things Occupy Wall Street-related: “Mercedes hits 2 Occupy Oakland protesters.” Imagine, if you will, a slight twist on that headline: “Ford Focus hits 2 Occupy Oakland protesters. Yeah, didn’t think so.
But just in case you were still unclear on the income level of those who attend fundraisers for Republican presidential candidates, TPM stresses that they are “rich,” “super-rich,” “mega-rich,” “well-heeled,” and “moneyed,” as distinct from the suburban moms and union stiffs present at Obama recent Manhattan fundraisers.
The Associated Press spoke with an investment banker who “chewed a cigar in his black Range Rover”— because that’s what rich people do — while praising candidate Romney. The New York Times interviewed a woman “in a blue chiffon dress [who] poked her head out of a black Range Rover” to declare that she was a “V.I.P.” and wondered if there was “a V.I.P. entrance.” And in one succinct sentence, Romney is established as the candidate of the nouveau riche. Indeed, this was likely the same déclassé women highlighted by the Los Angeles Times: “ ‘I don't think the common person is getting it,’ she said from the passenger seat of a Range Rover stamped with East Hampton beach permits.” In case you didn’t get the irony, it’s the uber-wealthy who are allowed to roam East Hampton beaches, not the “common person.”
By way of comparison, have a gander at this New York Times story on a fundraiser held by President Obama last month in Manhattan, hosted by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue editor Anna Wintour, a woman so notoriously unpleasant to the plebs that she inspired the book “The Devil Wears Prada.”
I’m going to be charitable and assume that this type of bias is largely subconscious; a nonsense distinction between “good” (actors, musicians and artists) and “bad” (finance people) wealthy. There is something cool about Aretha Franklin and Meryl Streep shaking the cup for President Obama in the West Village, surrounded by other hopelessly cool, if slightly vapid, Hollywood types. It’s difficult to imagine major newspapers and wire services producing similar scene reports for Obama fundraisers. “Ms. Streep, after climbing from her chauffeur-driven Range Rover in a stunning Marc Jacobs dress, spoke of her concern for the growing economic divide in the United States.” Yeah, I didn’t think so.