Paul Greenberg

Who is this Jeb Bush, why does he make such sense?

He's the younger brother of one president (George W.), son of another (George H.W.), and in his own right was an effective and popular governor of a big state with a lot of electoral votes. All of which must give a man a certain assurance even if it comes with the burden of a familiar name and great expectations. A challenging combination. And yet Jeb Bush seems to handle it all with aplomb. Just as he handled some touchy questions with both candor and clarity in his comments last weekend. Although it would be surprising if any son of Barbara Bush's didn't.

Oh, yes, money doesn't hurt, either, though in some sad cases it seems to. (See some of the wastrels in the Kennedy family line, beginning with Papa Joe.) American opinion seems divided over the pluses and minuses of inherited wealth. Money can give a leader not just assurance but conceit. It may even give a political figure a sense of responsibility -- of noblesse oblige, as the French say. "For of those to whom much is given, much is asked...." --Franklin D. Roosevelt.

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Here in Arkansas, the best governor this state has had in recent times, the one who turned the moral and political mess that the notorious Orval Faubus left behind into a reformed and newly promising state, was a man of legendary wealth with a name synonymous with it: Winthrop Rockefeller.

Who knows, it may not be the love of money that is the root of all evil but the lack of it. This whole topic, and the two opposite opinions about it, may have been summed up by the views of F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway, those polar opposites among American novelists. "Let me tell you about the very rich. They are different from you and me," Fitzgerald maintained. Hemingway agreed, but only kind of: "Yes, they have more money." And that's the only difference.

Between the two views, some of us have always been more inclined to agree with Scott Fitzgerald's. Being rich, especially very, and especially having been born that way, isn't just a matter of having more money. It comes with a whole, accustomed manner, for good or ill, that makes the very rich different from you and me.

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Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.