Typical post-debate headline. It was the spin among the ABC commentators right after the debate too. Everyone had the same take on it: The amount of the bet is so much it reminds people that Romney's really rich, and that's bad.
I had 3 responses to that last night, and here they are, in the order that they crossed my mind:
1. When I heard Romney's "Rick, I’ll tell you what, 10,000 bucks?" my instant reaction was that it's gambling. Are Mormons allowed to gamble? And many voters frown on gambling or regard it as a sin. Is a bet like that, especially when made for rhetorical purposes, considered gambling by people who are opposed to bad gambling? Will this make people think Romney really isn't very religious, and, if so, will that help him in some quarters?
2. When I heard commentators calling attention to the $10,000 amount, I was surprised, especially since they were all harping on the same point. (Presumably, tweets got the meme going.) The amount, if anything, seemed small to me, and not because I'm rich. When people are essentially saying "I'm absolutely sure I'm right" — which Romney was — they'll often say "I'll bet you a million dollars." Kids say that. You have to say a large amount, because the point is that you know you're not going to lose it. It's like saying "I'll eat my hat." You don't name an item that won't be too hard to eat. If anything, the problem with $10,000 was that it's not enough to make the point. But I think Romney made the number small to seem more like a modest, regular guy. Plus "I'll bet you a million dollars" sounds childish.
3. Finally, what's wrong with a candidate being wealthy? Candidates for President are men and women in the later stages of their careers. They are presenting themselves as highly competent and knowledgeable about economic matters. If they're not rich, why should we trust them managing our prosperity? The main reason some good candidates aren't rich is that they've spent their careers in government. Fine. But Romney hasn't, and indeed, that's his pitch: He's experienced in the private sector. If so, he'd better be rich. We should want someone who's worked for decades in private business but hasn't gotten rich to switch over to being President of the United States? We want the United States to grow richer! Rich is good. The commentators who imply that rich isn't good are letting their leftism show.