Not So Different

The rich are just like us, only different.

I’m sure you’ve seen the news about Patrick Kennedy by this time. The reactions have been… interesting. It seems like half the people I’ve heard talk about him (and isn’t that the very definition of gossip, by the way?) are almost gleeful at the sight of (yet another) Kennedy brought low. The other half are expressing some variation of the notion that his situation is similar to Rush Linbaugh’s. They feel we should “get off his back” because others are so much worse (or some such).

But almost universally I hear people say the Capitol Police treated Rep. Kennedy differently than they would almost anyone else, and that the special treatment was wrong. Indeed, people fully expect anyone, everyone, even a Kennedy in that situation to be treated the same. This is surely the American Way! It may be so that the rich are different from the rest of us, but they damn well will follow the laws and suffer the consequences of bad behavior in this country, they say. “Cynthia McKinney cannot get away scott free with punching a guard! This would be wrong!”

And so it is. Isn’t it remarkable that we think this way reflexively? I mean, what good is all the Kennedy money if they can’t use it to pay off a moving violation or two, hum? What good is all the Bush power/money if it can’t allow Jenna and Barbara do a little underage drinking, huh?

No, certain unreconstructed leftists not withstanding, we don’t hate the rich – we want to be rich. We want to be like them, and we want them to be treated just the way we are treated, especially by the law. That’s the true meaning of equality, and it has nothing to do with quotas or affirmative action or with relative worth.

Kennedy, Linbaugh and McKinney are discovering this most American idea still lives.

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