McCain committed a pretty embarrassing gaffe today when he admitted that he doesn’t know exactly how many houses he and Cindy own. The Democrats are naturally trying to take advantage of the mistake and use it to paint McCain as being out of touch with the working class voters.
Now I suppose that this could hurt McCain with some voters, but my suspicion is that it won’t gain much traction. The Democrats don’t like the way that the GOP has tried to pin the “elitist” label on Obama and seem to think that turnabout is fair play. However, I think they are misreading why the charge of elitism has been effective against Obama.
Obama hasn’t been accused of being elitist because he is wealthy. He’s been accused of being an elitist when he has made comments that appear to betray a condescending attitude towards certain segments of the population. The most damning of these was his remark about how some working class people were clinging to their guns and their religion because of the economic hardships they face.
The fact that many Democrats didn’t see what the big deal was about his remarks just illustrates how big of a problem it is for the party. Americans don’t inherently have a problem with wealthy people. In fact, lots of us aspire to be wealthy one day. But we don’t like snobs, and the Democrats seem to have more of a problem with expressing snobbery towards their fellow Americans.
Do some Republicans look down on average Americans? I’m pretty sure some do, but they don’t have as great a tendency to express such sentiments. A Democrat might argue that the Republicans are just better at lying. Maybe so…but it’s also possible that the Democrats have more of an open contempt for other Americans. Either way, voters typically see more cultural snobbery coming from the Democrats.
And Senator McCain doesn’t have a history of expressing disdain for average voters as far as I know. So trying to label him as an elitist probably won’t work. Americans resent attitudes, not bank accounts.