Sunday, August 24, 2008

One Condo One Vote

Back in April, John McCain confused Shia and Sunni. He didn't do it on the stump or in response to a trick question from a reporter. Remember in 2000 when candidate George W. Bush couldn't name the leader of Pakistan and no one really cared? McCain did it in the senate while discussing the Middle East. Joe Lieberman politely corrected him then McCain made the same mistake a few days later. It got reported, but the American public barely noticed. In August, he has to ask his staff how many houses he has with his wife and the story's everywhere?

It helps that that the Obama campaign responded immediately with clever ads to this one, but what the heck is the matter with us? Somehow it's not really news post 9/11 and post insurgency that candidate McCain doesn't know that Iran is Shia and Al Qaeda is Sunni? Yet somehow it's a turning point of the campaign that he has seven or more houses?

Actually, we don't even have what was so weird about the whole thing right. I voted for John Kerry and he had five houses with his wife Teresa Heinz Kerry. FDR was attacked for being a traitor to his class. Basically anyone who runs for president is either really rich or will be soon. Just ask Bill and Hillary. Even Jenna Bush got more than a hundred thousand dollars for writing a children's book. In fact, her grandmother's dog Millie made several hundred thousand dollars for a book but all of that wen to charity. It strikes me that they should just make a rule for anyone who becomes president. After you serve your time, you come away with ten million dollars plus a nice pension. Whatever you had coming in goes to the charity of your choice. After that, you're a national treasure. You can write books, make speeches to groups of wealthy people in Japan, or endorse viagra, but you and your family can't benefit financially from any of your activities.

Anyway, I don't think many people have noticed that John McCain likely knew exactly how many houses he has with his wife Miss Buffalo Chip. He said, “Well it depends on how you count condos” or something to that effect. The reason he had to have his staff get back to the reporter was that he didn't know how to spin the answer. For instance he could have easily said, “At least four and we have some other vacation properties which I woldn't necessarily count as houses. Do you have a question about a policy matter?”

He might have also easily said, “My wife and I have a pre-nup. She's made a lot of money selling beer to teenagers. I'm just a humble public servant. Did I mention that I was a POW in Vietnam and one of my guards drew a cross in the dirt once just like that scene in Solzhenitsyn?”

Or he might have said, “That doesn't mean that I don't sympathize or want to help those Americans who are losing their only homes or who have never had one. After all, my wife and I might have a lot of homes today but I had the experience of living as a prisoner of war and sharing a cell for several years. You guys must play Monopoly. You know that having 8 houses is nothing like have a hotel on Boardwalk. I'm also a Panamanian immigrant.”

Instead, Mr. Straight Talk express wanted to check in with his staff first. It's not that John McCain's wife is rich, it's really that he didn't have the guts to answer a mildly embarrassing question in public with any level of candor without consulting his “staff”.

Even stupider, the McCain campaign's ultimate response was to point out that Obama has a house worth a million dollars (for those of us who live in California , we kind of shrug that one off), took a vacation in Hawaii, and may have had help buying that house from a bad person. It's a bit like Courtney Love making fun of someone else for smoking marijuana. Maybe that's what happens when you think rich starts at making five million dollars a year.

Maybe in the long haul, the Democrats have the right response to all of this. Joe Biden is one of the few people in Washington who really does know the difference between Shiites and Sunnis. In any case, I'd like to hear a bit more about how the candidates want to navigate the various factional differences in Iraq and elsewhere. Maybe more important, how many of us actually know what the two candidates want to do about the mortgage crisis?



At 8/26/2008 09:43:00 PM, Blogger AHP said...

Perhaps McCain can donate some of his houses to people that have had to foreclose on their own.

You do raise a good point that every candidate is rich or soon-to-be rich, but it's a matter of being sensitive to the issues of real people. When you get too far from ordinary, it's almost impossible to fathom what normal people face. It's not his fault being rich, but maybe he should spend time in poor neighborhoods to see what's really happening. Bush should have done that too, but then he still wouldn't remember what a gallon of gas costs.

At 8/26/2008 09:50:00 PM, Blogger Marianne said...

You're right -- what's up with that? I think the perception that one is "elitist" (or not) is very, very important in this election, almost as important as whether or not one was or was not a "patriot" in 2004 (Remember those Swift Boat veterans? Ooh, they made me so mad!)

At 8/30/2008 12:13:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I listen to wonderfull Hillary & Bill talk about the stakes, as heartbroken and enraged at the DNC (those rotten caucuses) as I am, I'm reminded why, for all the principled temptation, I cannot be a puma but am an HFO & a HAM --- Hillaryette for Obama, Hillaryette Against McCain.

I'm really for our essential causes for which Hillary is such a brilliant and passionate champion. McCain cannot advance those causes of fairness and justice with health care, education, and a Green Future supplying jobs. So, with all the tears in my eyes, here I am, an HFO & a HAM.

At 9/02/2008 10:16:00 AM, Blogger Chancelucky said...

IT's funny how quickly this house thing faded away, now it's more about how many kids/grandkids Sarah Palin has.

You were right. I think McCain's vp pick was very much about establishing the GOP credentials as the party of "regular folk". I'm not sure it worked real well.

I remember the Swift Boat thing a bit too well.

glad to hear that you're taking Hillary's "It's not about me", it's about us plea to heart. It is about us and we need a president who knows the difference between Sunni and Shia among other things.


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