Thursday, August 28, 2008

John McCain: Weapon of Mass Projection

John McCain's recent campaign strategy of painting Barack Obama as an elitist "celebrity" is an interesting campaign strategy. See, it's interesting because this undesirable trait McCain ascribes to Obama is something that so clearly applies to McCain himself. Imbuing others with undesirable traits that you yourself possess is called projection. It's a psychological defense mechanism. But it's funny, you see, because McCain is using it offensively as a, what I like to call, Weapon of Mass Projection.

It would have been nice if his campaign rose above dirty personal attacks, but McCain has shown and his team have shown themselves unwilling to do so. When the best you have against your opponent is that he's "like" Paris Hilton, you're sort of at the bottom of the barrel. And, if I were part of the Obama campaign team, I would damn well be pointing out the inconvenient fact that McCain is quite the elite himself.


1. Yes, this is shallow. But if the rightwingers are going to play on the Barack Hussein Obama bit, let's take a look at McCain's name. John Sidney McCain III. I mean seriously. It's my opinion that those who insist on numbering their progeny as though their sons are continuing a Very Important Family Legacy just reeks of good old fashioned elitism.

2. Notoriously, McCain mocked Obama's celeb-status in a recent commercial comparing Obama to Paris Hilton. We get it, it's elitist and bad to be a celebrity who is famous solely for being a rich famous person. Yet, it is preposterous for McCain to imply that Obama, a presidential contender who is one of the most visible persons in national news precisely because he's a presidential contender, is famous solely for being a rich famous person. Obama is a national politician whose only similarity to Hilton is fame.

In fact, considering that the uber-rich Hiltons actually donated to McCain's campaign, what the heck does that say about John Sidney McCain III? I think the man is confused, quite frankly, over the definition of an "elite." An elite, you see, is not just someone with whom you disagree. Generally, elite means something along the lines of "a group of persons who by virtue of position or education exercise much power or influence." If John Sidney McCain III is not elite I am sure we can count on him to skip his fundraiser at the Beverly Hilton put on by conservative Hollywood elites. Or, maybe in McCain's new world, elite doesn't mean what we all think it means.

3. The Obamas are wealthy. What politician isn't, actually? But the McCains are much wealthier. While Wikipedia lists Obama's net worth at $1.3 million, it lists McCain's at $40.4 million. It is utterly ridiculous that McCain is playing the Obama-is-an-Elitist card in light of this ginormous disparity.

And yet, McCain perpetuates out-of-touch-with-reality statements like this line about Obama:

"Celebrities don't have to worry about family budgets. But we sure do."

Wait a minute.... "we"?! Interesting use of the word "we," John. I'm sure John Sidney McCain III and I have bunches in common when it comes to worrying about bills. But seriously, almost one thousand median-income families could be supported by McCain's net worth and he has the audacity to play the Unlike Obama the Elitist I'm Just a Common Folk Like You card? Wake up people. John McCain does not have the same worries about family budgets as you or I.

As Ed Brayton puts it:

"Well yes, John McCain has to worry about his family budget. That budget, by the way, includes $273,000 a year for 'household help.' That's $50,000 more every year just for servants, maids and gardeners than the median value of a family house in this country. But Obama, son of a single mother who sometimes went on welfare who had to work his way through college, he's the elitist."

In fact, while McCain's net worth is bolstered by that of his wife's, heiress Cindy (who has an estimated worth of $100 million), "the bulk of Obama's wealth has come only in the past few years, with the huge success of his second book, The Audacity of Hope. Oh, I get it. An elite is someone who actually earns his wealth rather than inheriting it or marrying into it. Thanks for the clarification, Mr. McCain.

4. McCain lives a lifestyle that is out of touch with the reality of the average American's life. For instance, in addition to his "household help," he lives such a privileged life that he can't even keep track of how many houses he owns. As one commentator at the Democratic National Convention said of McCain "Those who own 7 houses shouldn't thrown stones." And further, in his interview with Rick Warren, McCain defined the threshold for being "rich" as $5 million. Someone who's worth $4 million, I suppose, is not rich. So now I think I get it. An elite is someone worth less than you, who owns less houses than you, and who earns his wealth.


To those who know the facts, characterizing Obama as an elite and McCain as EveryMan is a tough sell. See, my issue is not with the fact that McCain is an elite. It's with the fact that McCain is far more of an elite than Obama, yet is attacking his opponent for something that he himself is. To me, this reeks of a fundamental lack of self-awareness or just outright deception.

But most importantly, this isn't even a conversation we should be having. All politicians are elite, by virtue of their wealth and status. That is a given. I think it's a huge problem that one has to be wealthy to be a successful politician, but let's face it, it's a given. Shouldn't we be focusing on real issues our nation is facing and how these "elites" are or are not going to make our nation better? Or, even better, shouldn't we start having conversations about why only the wealthy are "qualified" to run our nation?

No comments: