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Romney’s Real Riches

I don’t care how many Cadillacs Mitt Romney owns, how many earmarks he requested, or how many individual mandates he approved. This is an extraordinary man.

We first heard about it in the 2008 campaign: how Romney saved the teenaged daughter of a Bain Capital colleague in 1996. Here’s what Mitt did when he learned the girl had gone missing after sneaking from her home in Connecticut to a party in New York City: he shut down the whole office and flew the staff from Boston to New York; he had fliers printed up and got employees at Duane Reade (in which Bain invested) to stuff one into every customer’s bag; he set up a phone hotline; he personally, along with his Bain people and their New York accountants and lawyers, pounded the city’s pavements looking for the girl and asking teenagers if they’d seen her. After a few days of all this – and the publicity it generated – they traced the hotline call of someone asking for a reward and found the girl, who had overdosed on Ecstasy, in the basement of a New Jersey home.

The New York Times is treating the campaign’s current retelling of the story with predictable snide cynicism (“Pressed for Anecdote, Romney Recounts Tale of Missing Girl”); and — surprise, surprise – is trying to gin up some controversy around the ad one of his super PACs is running about it.

The Washington Post describes it thus:  “Mitt Romney is striving to show voters that he is more than the Mitt Romney they think they know. He wants to demonstrate that he’s human, too.”

Um.  He is?  Really??  Who’d have thunk???

Now, I’ve been working for a few decades, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some really nice bosses and colleagues. But I can’t imagine a single one of them going so far just to help me – not to mention having the calm wherewithal to come up with a workable and effective plan.   And I can’t quite imagine our great philanthropists Warren Buffett and Bill Gates doing it either. Or even that paragon of humanness, Barack Obama himself.

Yes, it’s true that the campaign is using the story to counter the rich-technocrat Romney caricature promoted by opponents on the left and the right. But that’s what campaigns are supposed to do, isn’t it? One can only wonder why it’s taken them so long. Could it be a certain – gasp – modesty on the part of the candidate? Or possibly a reluctance to parade the teen trauma of someone who may well be a happy and healthy young woman today? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Mitt Romney isn’t just human; he’s a very good, decent human. And we could do much, much worse than that in a president.