I think Obama’s talk about McCain’s houses will not fly. The usual implication of wealth in a political campaign is that someone is out of touch with and indifferent to the sufferings of ordinary people. But as a former military man and POW, McCain will always have “street cred” with the working classes as someone who has suffered in his life, and, better yet, suffered for his country.
These charges won’t stick. It’s part of a general odd tone of the Obama campaign, as if any attack is equal to any other. There is no narrative unity. Consider Obama’s whiney argument that McCain (and his surrogates) should not question his patriotism, and in return he won’t question McCain’s. Huh? McCain’s commitment to the country is undeniable. He might be wrong-headed and embrace a liberal version of open-borders, but his subjective intent and life experiences count for something. Obama, by contrast, spent much of his life affiliating with people highly critical of the country and its core institutions, people like Jeremiah Wright and terrorist Bill Ayers. Coupled with symbolic acts like his resistance to rituals like the national anthem, frankly his patriotism is questionable. Either way, he should stay off the topic. It is as if McCain were to say in pseudo-magnaminous fashion, “I won’t question my opponent’s commitment to civil rights.” No shit.
By contrast,the Rezko stuff and Obama’s shady housing deals are easily coupled with Obama’s prep school years and Ivy League alma maters and occasional resentment of America to show him as a guy who thinks he is so smart and so worthy that the rules do not apply to him. Instead of reflexively suggesting that McCain’s snobbery is extant and equal to his own, Obama would benefit by contrasting his native smarts with McCain’s pig-headedness and bad judgment. This character debate is a dead-end for Obama and ultimately helpful to McCain.
Obama has another challenge. He has boxed himself in by campaigning like this post-political voice of reason. Every time he strikes or strikes back, even if it’s reasonable on the merits, it hurts his main narrative and marks him as indistinguishable from every other politician. You at least knew that Clinton played hard-ball the minute he got rolling in 1992. Of course, this “post political” narrative should have been deconstructed a long time ago. This charlatan rose through the ranks of Chicago politics and has played the race cards about as frequently and obnoxiously as McCain appealed to his POW credentials. We have too power-obsessed biography candidates who avoid ever being clear about any real policy matters.
In the end, this stuff is only of mild academic interest to me. I find this campaign boring beyond belief, not least because I don’t plan on voting for either of the two front-runners, and I find them both to be slaves to political correctness, unserious in their treatment of our nation’s problems, and both represent different variations of consensus liberalism.