Barack Obama is an elite as well. He’s a millionaire author (although Romney could buy and sell him a hundred times—well, probably just buy him once and lay everyone off). But more important, he is the kind of elite that Democrats love: an academic elite. A professor of constitutional law at the University of Chicago, president of the Harvard Law Review, graduate of Columbia University: the egghead trifecta.
Yes, we Americans admire financial success; we don’t hate the rich. But we resent folks who got rich by rigging the system. Romney made millions in part by loading companies with debt, driving them into bankruptcy, and laying off their workers. The workers who lost their jobs had their health benefits canceled as well—but Romney and his partners made millions. That’s not how Steve Jobs got rich.
By the same token, we admire academic success. Judging by all the bumper stickers that say, “My child is an honor student at John Foster Dulles Junior High School,” we are raising a generation of geniuses. Who wouldn’t want their kid to go to an Ivy League school? But we resent smartypants, pointy-headed intellectuals who look down their noses at us and lack common sense. (As my old friend Zell Miller used to say, “They don’t know gee from haw.”)