Does Obama's wealth shield him from everyday concerns?When the two Democratic Presidential candidates released their income tax returns in 2008, one received about 4 million dollars and the other...

Does Obama's wealth shield him from everyday concerns?

When the two Democratic Presidential candidates released their income tax returns in 2008, one received about 4 million dollars and the other 20 million dollars for the tax year 2007.

In San Francisco, one of the candidates suggested that people in small towns facing hard economic times get bitter and "cling to guns or religion".

In light of his own enormous wealth and the fact that the church he belongs to has been somewhat controversial, how appropriate was this statement for Obama to make? In your opinion are Americans generally a bitter people? Do you believe Obama uses God or violence as a comfort or does his wealth shield him from the realities that we average citizens face on a daily basis?

Expert Answers
pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are many points to be made here:

  • Obama is by no means alone in being a wealthy person running for/being president.  In fact, most candidates come from much more privileged backgrounds than Obama did.  So I do not think you can point to his wealth as an issue since most other serious candidates (take, for example, Mitt Romney) are at least as wealthy.
  • Of course he uses his wealth to shield himself from the realities most of us face.  Most rich people would.  I remember when Pres. George Bush Sr. was amazed when he went to buy socks at a photo op and saw a scanner (for getting the price of the socks onto the cash register) for the first time.  Everyone laughed because it showed how out of touch the truly rich and privileged are.
  • As far as the guns and religion thing goes, this is not an uncommon attitude among urban elites.  They tend to misunderstand blue collar people just as blue collar people misunderstand them.  Obama says these people cling to religion and guns.  They say he's an anti-American socialist.  People tend to misunderstand each other because they're human.
litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator
In contrast to many of the other presidents we have had, Obama is not sheltered by privilege. He did not grow up with a sense of entitlement. He is a scholar and an academic. His money did not come from his family, but from writing books and of course now from being president. I think that every president we have ever had or ever will have will be shielded from everyday concerns while in the White House. That is necessary, because we need our president to focus on bigger things than taking out the garbage. However, part of Obama's mystique is that he tries to live the life of an everyman, and have as normal a domestic life as possible.
brettd eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Obama is a wealthy President, but his wealth is fairly recent (mostly generated by book sales), and he is no richer than the last three Presidents before him.  I think the reality of his daily existence as President does more to shield him from the lives of average Americans than his wealth does.  This is true of every President, as it is difficult to keep your finger on the pulse of America, as it were, when your days are packed with visits by Prime Ministers, lobbying for legislation or nominating judges, for example.  This doesn't leave him much time to run to the store for a loaf of bread.