Which is better: owning four houses, like Mitt Romney, or having six wives, like Zulu King Zwelithini? 


Convention Hell is over. At last, as Etta James would say. If I have to hear one more politician yammer about how he or she started off living in a box on the street, but, thanks to the “American dream,” made good and is now famous, powerful, and well-off, I may have to, well, off myself.

But speaking of living in a box, all this talk of humble beginnings reminded me of the 2008 campaign, when former war hero/caged POW John McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he and his rich wife owned. I wondered how many domiciles his successor as Republican standard-bearer, the fabulously wealthy Mitt Romney, has. The answer, according to The Real Deal, has many permutations but resolves to a relatively modest four houses, among a larger number of real estate investments.

With all the partisan-patriotic rhetoric it’s easy to forget there’s still a housing crisis going on. Fortunately, to match up with his own four homes, Romney has a four-point plan to tackle it. Unfortunately, the plan consists, as the Washington Post sums it up, “largely of generalities that are in line with the Obama administration’s policies to fix the housing market.” Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, puts it this way: “Romney’s housing policy as articulated in the four policy prescriptions…is a subset of Obama’s housing policy. The Administration could reasonably say that it is pursuing each of these policy prescriptions and then some.”

Of course it’s the job of campaigns to present only the vaguest of ideas, the wispiest of generalities. The job of a candidate is vastly different from that of an executive. And Romney can take further comfort in knowing he has only one wife, unlike some Mormons of old – and unlike Zulu King Zwelithini, who must hustle up enough cash to build a new castle every time he takes a new bride. (He’s now up to six.) Evidently, what King Zwelithini needs is a good four-point plan.

But he too may take comfort, in one thing at least: He doesn’t have to worry about how many black people are in the audience when he speaks.