My experience suggests another reason that the very privileged are as remote from reality as the tea party. It's not that they have a snob's disdain for the little people. It's that, insulated by their money, they don't know any.
The digital age and the internet has further limited what a public figure should and should not say. But that does not change the first commandment of all public dialogue: you are never off the record!
McCain was droll, offensive without being nasty and very relaxed. He was handy at spewing mixed-up rhetoric about his position and Obama's on the war, oil drilling, NATO and tax cuts -- It was seductive.