Wednesday, August 27, 2008

McCain's Elitism Problem

In trying to spin the embarrassment that McCain has no idea how many houses he owns, the McCain McCain campaign explicitly asked people to compare the two candidate's life stories to see just who is more elitist.

So lets do that.

First up, Obama:


Obama grew up in a single parent household, living off food stamps for a time as child. He then lived with his grandparents while a teenager, and earned scholarships based on his grades to attend a private school in Hawaii because it offered the chance at the best education, which is what any parent wants for their child.

He then got scholarships and took out loans to pay for his college education, and was still paying off those loans as recently as a few years ago until his books took off.

Then instead of cashing out with a cushy lawyer job on Wall Street, and never having to worry about money again, he decided to work in the streets of South Side Chicago, helping people have a voice in their community that had been ravenged by job losses, and working to make their lives better. He got into politics because he saw that to really change things, you have to get involved, and saw running for office as a way to really make a difference in the lives of people.

His wife came from a middle class family, and she attended college also on scholarships and loans. Yes they both went to Ivy League schools, but it was based off their grades, not their family connections. It was paid not by rich parents but by studying hard and taking on debt.

Obama has lived the American dream, going from nothing to great success soley on his talents and a lot of hard work. Isn't this exactly what America believes, that with hard work anyone can be anything they want to be?


McCain was born into a life of privilage, and used his family connections to get into the Navy Academy. He then proceeded to finish near the bottom of his class (894 of 899). And despite his school years being marked by mediocrity and misdeeds (as he points out himself in his books), he managed to snag one of the most prized Navy assignments, to become an aircraft carrier pilot. His father was a 4 star Navy admiral, and McCain used nepotism to get ahead in the world.

After his POW experience, he had an undistingushed career in the Navy, and after it became clear that his family connections would not have enough pull to enable him to become an Admiral, he decided to retire from the military. And from his time hobnobbing in Washington as a Navy liason, he realized he liked the power and prestige that Senators had, and decided to get into politics. He then moved his new family to Arizona specifically to run for the a newly vacant Congress seat.

And while McCain was overseas, his first wife, a former model, was in a car accident that disfigured her. He then cheated on his wife, the same wife who had waited all those years worrying about him while he was a POW, with a woman 18 years younger than him, because as his wife said, "John McCain didn’t want to be 40, he wanted to be 25." He was married within a month after the divorce was finalized.

And the woman he married as his second wife? The heiress of a vast beer fortune, and a woman whose father had multiple political connections, which McCain acknowledges using to gain political access. And right now Cindy McCain sits on the board of her beer empire, leaving day to day operations to others, but mainly just stopping by to pick up her $6 million paycheck every year that she "earned" by being born into the right family and using her private jet to fly John around to campaign stops. To her credit though, she does really good work with philanthropic causes.

Her beer empire does raise all kinds of conflicts of interest as well:

Hensley, founded by Cindy McCain's late father, holds federal and state licenses to distribute beer and lobbies regulatory agencies on alcohol issues that involve public health and safety.

The company has opposed such groups as Mothers Against Drunk Driving in fighting proposed federal rules requiring alcohol content information on every package of beer, wine and liquor.

Its executives, including John McCain's son Andrew, have written at least 10 letters in recent years to the Treasury Department, have contributed tens of thousands of dollars to a beer industry political action committee, and hold a seat on the board of the politically powerful National Beer Wholesalers Assn.

Neither John or Cindy have ever struggled with money in their entire lives, and have no idea what it's like to be poor. And Silver pointed out that all the houses are in Cindy's name. Because they signed a prenup. Using the logic of a right wing pundit, if Cindy McCain doesn't' trust her own husband with money, how can he be expected to handle tax payers money?

Here's what the right wing was saying about Kerry back in 2004, in talking about how Kerry married a rich heiress. I've replaced "Kerry" with "McCain" and "Teresa" with "Cindy", and changed a few of the numbers since Teresa was worth more than Cindy. But the point still stands:

  • Joseph Farah, World Net Daily, "President Gigolo?":

    But if there is one characteristic of McCain's life that should disqualify him absolutely as a candidate for president, it is the fact that he has sought out millionaire wives to take care of him. Not to put too fine a point on it, he's a serial gigolo.

    Is marrying well good preparation for serving as the president of the United States? . . . . He's always had a net underneath him throughout his political career -- in his case, a net woven of homespun 24K gold.

    And, once again, as Boteach points out, his second wife, Cindy, made him sign a prenuptial agreement when they were wed: "Which begs the question: If his own wife doesn't trust him with her money, why should we trust him with ours?"

    Cindy McCain is not sure about her husband's character. Are you?

  • Ann Coulter

    ANN COULTER: John McCain can't really speak to the middle class tax cuts, inasmuch as he is ...


    ANN COULTER: ... a kept man. He lives off the money made by other men and left to their daughters or wives.

  • Ann Coulter

    ANN COULTER: Well, okay, then I don't want to hear him talk about a middle class tax cut when he has made his living living off rich women. I mean, it is simply a fact that he has married two heiresses. His specialty in life, I mean, if he has an economic plan, I think the one I'd like to hear about is how to snooker millionairesses into marrying me and living off them. I mean, that is not an, a, a trivial point.

  • Jay Leno

    Comedians have tried the Rich Guy persona along with a variation of the Gold Digger, which Jay Leno used in explaining how Mr. McCain would eliminate the federal deficit: "He said all we have to do is find a really rich country like Switzerland and marry it."

  • Rush Limbaugh

    [McCain] has lived the life of a millionaire living off the inherited wealth of his two wives. As a ... millionaire who did not have to work for his fortune, Mr. McCain never had to worry about the money he earned, the taxes he paid, ... Mr. John McCain is not effected (sic) when these neighborhoods are destroyed and working class families lose the largest asset in their retirement plans -- their home's value.

  • Rabbi Smuley Boteach, World Net Daily, May 25, 2004:
    Now, having a wife who provides you with a private jet and eight multimillion-dollar vacation homes provides for a comfortable life. But is this the right preparation for becoming president? . . .

    To be sure, that does not mean McCain never did an honest day's work in his life. On the contrary, he was a ... distinguished senator. But even while he did these jobs, his wives' wealth always gave him a safety net

  • Taki Theodoracopulos, American Conservative, May 24, 2004:

    If John Kerry wins in November, he will be the premiere president of this great country of ours to be also a gigolo. The dictionary defines "gigolo" as a man supported by a woman in return for his sexual attentions and companionship. It might sound rough for John McCain, but it's right to the point. Let’s face it. The 44th president (maybe) is as close to a gigolo as I can think of, and I have known many.

  • Rush Limbaugh

    He's a gigolo. . . . McCain is cheap. Most gigolos are. I mean -- I think it -- I think it goes with the, with the definition. . . .[W]hat do you consider a fair wage? John McCain considers a fair wage a wife with 100 million. So, he had to find a company that had one. Well, there aren't too many of these companies that have little heiresses running around that are single, have 100 million that some guy can marry into.

Does being rich make you a bad person? Of course not. Obama is worth millions now because of the books he wrote. But when everything you gained in life you got through your family connections and things given to you, I do question how well they really understand economic plight of the average American.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

McCain's POW Excuse

There's been a disturbing trend in the last few weeks that I noticed in the McCain campaign. They seem to keep falling back on his POW experience to explain away all his problems.

Now I greatly appreciate the sacrifices that McCain had to make while a POW and thank him for his service to our country. I can't even imagine the suffering he must have gone through, and hope that none of our brave service members will have to go through what he did.

But he cannot continue to use his POW status to hide behind legitimate criticisms or score political points. It cheapens and devalues the sacrifices that other POW's have made.

Here's some of the instances I had found of him using the POW excuse on topics that have no relation to being a POW. There are very few, if any, reasons to bring it up, other than possibly if there is some issue specifically related to torture. But using it to (incorrectly) explain your musical tastes? That's exploiting POW status for political gain.

And in spite of all this, the McCain campaign still feels they have "under used" his POW status. If you try to claim that McCain is not using his time as a POW for political gain, then how could his campaign claim he is under-using it?

Of course McCain himself said back in 2004 that he was "sick and tired of re-fighting" Vietnam.

"I'm sick and tired of re-fighting the Vietnam War. And most importantly, I'm sick and tired of opening the wounds of the Vietnam War, which I've spent the last 30 years trying to heal.

McCain said Kerry may have opened himself to criticism by focusing on Vietnam. In his own primary campaign in 2000, McCain said, he didn't have to because everyone knew he'd been there. For Kerry, "it's clearly a tactical or strategic move" to shield him against "charges of being too liberal and soft on defense."

I suppose this is yet another example of the old McCain not even being able to recognize the 2008 version.

And then here's one of the veterns getting pissed off about McCain's tactics:

When he uses his status as a veteran to deflect legitimate questions and concerns, it devalues not just his service to our country but ours as well.

So today, we ask not as Veterans for Obama, but as Veterans of America that Sen. McCain respect the service of his fellow POWs and combat veterans, and stop cheapening their service by hiding behind his own.

And I completely agree with Maureen Dowd's editoral, that it's important to ask if his POW status has altered his world view in ways that are dangerous for the leader of our country.

People are quick to explain away his bias when he said:

"I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live."

And I can fully understand why he would feel that way, and that in and of itself does not make him a bad person. He later explained he was referring to just his prison guards. But then why use a racial epithet that is demeaning to all Asians?

The more important issue is if these kinds of prejudices are something we want in a president. I know I feel uncomfortable knowing that his judgment isn't unbiased and rational in regards to east Asia because of his experiences. And I fear how that would affect the foreign policy decisions he would have to make as president. It seems to have affected him quite a lot in other areas of his life as shown in the quotes above. Add to that his hot temper, and it could be a recipe for disaster.