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Commentary: An 'average' American will never be president

  • Story Highlights
  • Martin: All three candidates are well-educated, wealthy -- not "average"
  • Their efforts to show that they are "just like us" are pathetic, he says
  • But that's OK, Martin says, if they advance good policies
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By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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Join Roland Martin for his weekly sound-off segment on CNN.com Live at 11:10 a.m. Wednesday. If you're passionate about the topic, he wants to hear from you.

Roland Martin says the three presidential candidates will never be "regular folks."

(CNN) -- Can we all just stop the silly nonsense over who is an elitist and whether an "average American" will occupy the White House?

Listening to the punditry today, you would think folks who revel in the comedy of Larry the Cable Guy or Katt Williams really would have a shot at the White House.

It's totally absurd.

So, Sen. Barack Obama is all of a sudden an elitist because he went to Columbia and Harvard? And Sen. Hillary Clinton is an elitist because she went to Yale? Do you actually think Sen. John McCain isn't an elitist? He went to an exclusive college -- the Naval Academy, and that is one of the hardest places to get into. (You can't even apply unless a member of Congress recommends you.)

Karl Rove, who tries to portray himself as the common man but is just another rich Republican, has called both Democratic candidates elitists. Well, his former boss, President George W. Bush, went to Yale. So did Bush's dad, former president George H.W. Bush, and his granddaddy, former Sen. Prescott Bush. All three Bushes also were members of the super elite organization Skull and Bones. The younger Bush later went to Harvard.

He walked into the governor's mansion and the presidency on the strength of his name and his dad's money and connections. Sounds like an elitist to me!

But no, we're supposed to be fooled by the cowboy boots, folksy charm and him removing brush at his Crawford, Texas, ranch (don't forget the family compound in Kennebunkport, Maine, where all the "regular" folks hang out).

Surely you recall when Bush nominated Harriet Miers for the Supreme Court? Those same conservative voices decrying the elitist Democrats were blasting her because she went to little old Southern Methodist University, that unremarkable -- their view -- university in Dallas, Texas. (By the way, that will be the home of the George W. Bush Library.)

You can bet a pitcher of beer that had she graduated from Harvard, Yale or Princeton, she wouldn't have been derisively referred to as too plain and not educated enough by the elitists in the Republican Party.

And let's stay with the Supreme Court for a moment. Where did its members go to school?

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. -- Undergrad and law school, Harvard.

Justice John Paul Stevens -- Undergrad: University of Chicago. Law school: Northwestern.

Justice Antonin Scalia -- Undergrad: Georgetown University and the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Law school: Harvard.

Justice Anthony Kennedy -- Undergrad: Stanford University and the London School of Economics. Law school: Harvard.

Justice David Souter -- Undergrad: Harvard; Magdalen College, Oxford; Oxford University. Law school: Harvard.

Justice Clarence Thomas -- Undergrad: Holy Cross. Law school: Yale.

Justice Ruth Ginsburg -- Undergrad: Cornell. Law school: Harvard (attended); finished at Columbia.

Justice Stephen Breyer -- Undergrad, Stanford; Magdalen College, Oxford. Law school: Harvard.

Justice Samuel Alito -- Undegrad: Princeton. Law school: Yale.

That's pretty much an elite list of schools.

We have deluded ourselves into thinking the person elected to the White House is really and truly like the rest of us.

All three candidates don't know what it's like to face the daunting health care challenges millions of Americans are confronted with daily. Each are members of the U.S. Senate, and they have the best health care money can buy for life -- we pay for it! While your pension plan is shot to hell, their plan will NEVER be underfunded. The members will see to that, courtesy of taxpayer dollars.

Forget how many times Obama bowls gutter balls, Clinton tosses back shots of whiskey and McCain talks about how he's a regular guy. Each, courtesy of their $169,300 annual salary, makes far more than the average American.

And when it comes to wealth, Clinton gets to enjoy the $100 million she and her husband raked in since he left the White House (even their hefty book advances dwarf regular authors).

McCain's wife, Cindy, runs one of Anheuser Busch's largest beer distributors and is worth more than $100 million. They will never be living paycheck-to-paycheck.

Obama is the poorest of the three, but he did earn more than a million bucks courtesy of his best-selling books, "The Audacity of Hope" and "Dreams from My Father" after delivering his 2004 keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention. How many average Americans wouldn't mind having a million dollars in their savings account?

Bottom line: The narrative about our presidential candidates being just regular folks is a tired myth that gets repeated each and every day. And their efforts to show that they are "just like us" are really pathetic.

You don't have to go duck hunting, be seen buying milk at the grocery store for your family or having a beer at the local bar to show that you're "one of us." Just do what rich and highly educated folks do when they are in politics: Advance policies that will at least allow me to keep a few more dollars in my pocket and be able to afford a home.

One more thing: Don't buy fully into the nonsense tossed out by some of the loudest voices on television, radio and in print who decry these "elitists" and trumpet that they are for the blue collar, middle-class worker in middle America.

Many of them pull down multimillion-dollar salaries and run into these same candidates on Martha's Vineyard and in the Hamptons when they all vacation. They, too, will pull every favor they have to get their children in the posh private schools and Ivy League institutions.

Yes, we even have elitists in the media.

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