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Moynihan: Ribbing on Mitt Romney's rich donors

David Koch's Meadow Lane estate where Mitt Romney

David Koch's Meadow Lane estate where Mitt Romney held a fundraiser for his campaign. Credit: Hampton Pix

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 these 1 percenters transport themselves to the "pine tree-lined" estate where the fundraiser 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 reported on the "line of Range Rovers, BMWs, Porsche roadsters and one gleaming cherry red Ferrari." 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 last year: "Mercedes hits 2 Occupy Oakland protesters." Imagine if it had said: "Ford Focus hits 2 Occupy Oakland protesters." Yeah, I didn’t think so.

But in case you were still unclear on the income level of those who attend fundraisers for Republican presidential candidates, Talking Points Memo stresses that they are "rich," "super-rich," "mega-rich," "well-heeled" and "moneyed," as distinct from the suburban moms and union stiffs present at recent Obama fundraisers.

The AP spoke with an investment banker who "chewed a cigar in his black Range Rover" while praising Romney. The New York Times interviewed a woman "in a blue chiffon dress" who "poked her head out of a black Range Rover" and wondered if there was "a V.I.P. entrance." This was probably the same women highlighted by the L.A. 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 roam East Hampton beaches, not the common folk.

By way of comparison, read The New York Times story on an Obama fundraiser hosted last month in Manhattan by actress Sarah Jessica Parker and Vogue editor Anna Wintour. I’m going to be charitable and assume that its 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, 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.