Over the weekend, the term “elitist” suddenly emerged as one of the labels to avoid in this year’s presidential campaign. Barack Obama has had it leveled at him by both his democrat rival as well as John McCain, as a result of some in-artful comments he made earlier this month to prospective donors in San Francisco. He was making reference to middle income, rural citizens of Pennsylvania. According to Obama, these “folks” are bitter. Bitter people, who in their bitterness are comforted by guns, religion, and xenophobia. Wow. WOW! I wonder on what basis he came to those conclusions. Throughout the weekend, he contended that he did not communicate his thoughts well, but “everyone” knows it’s the truth. [Barack, here is some free advice: One of the fundamental rules of life is this, when you are in a hole that you would like to get out of, stop digging!]
The truth is that both of the democrat candidates could be regarded as elitist, and likely John McCain could be as well. Clinton and Obama are both Ivy League educated lawyers, and both are married to Ivy League educated lawyers. All three candidates sit atop wealth that only single digit percentages of Americans have any experience with. And all three presidential contenders are members of the most elite club in America, the United States Senate. I had the opportunity a few years ago to sit in the Senate gallery and observe the goings on on the floor, during a roll call vote. It was interesting to watch these people, swoop in, with staff members in tow, vote and leave with all the fanfare they could muster. Or other “club members” who appear to be bitter rivals, especially when in front of a camera, laughing it up and putting their arms around each other’s shoulders. The pomposity was palpable.
It has been amusing to watch Obama and Clinton relate to “the folks.” Both of these Senators are out of their element when it comes to even the appearance of being comfortable in these settings. Earlier this month, Obama went bowling. Bad decision on the part of his handlers. At the very least, they should have had him practice on the tour bus with a Wii to get the hang of the sport. I heard on TV that he bowled something like a 37. Only reinforces the reality that he’s not “one of the guys in the Thursday night league.”
And this weekend, while in Indiana, Clinton tossed back a few shots of whiskey and washed them down with beer and pizza. The whole scene seemed almost surreal. Here was this 60-ish woman hanging out with the boys, “doin’ what guys do! It would have been unbecoming of a college sorority girl to do this, but for the woman who wants to be queen of the world? Once again, what were her handlers thinking?
Yeah, bowling and drinking may be relaxing pastimes for some, or perhaps many Americans, but to have these two participating, when so clearly out of their normal modus operandi, seems to almost mock. Pretension and condescension seem to describe the whole effort. And none of it makes me feel like they really connect.
And I suspect in time, we’ll see John McCain participating in equally inane efforts to appear to be just one of the folks.