The role willful ignorance has played in this campaign just reached critical mass.
It was bad enough when Senator Clinton said that she landed under sniper fire in Bosnia, but "fake it til you make it" is a risky strategy that has paid off in the past. It was worse when Fox News spent, in the words of one of its own, "two hours Obama-bashing" on Senator Obama's "typical white person" comment, but that's Fox News and honestly what do you expect. And while I cringe more and more violently every time Senator McCain says "Iran" instead of "Iraq" or "Al-Qaida" instead of "insurgents", I honestly believe that at some point his senior moments on the campaign are going to catch up with him.
Saying Obama is out of touch with middle class Americans, however? This is just crap.
Let's not even discuss how much Senator Obama's comment was taken out of context. Using sound bites without context has been a staple of all sides in this campaign. Let us instead turn to the sentiment he expressed - and how, rather than showing him to be "out of touch" with middle class Americans, it actually hit the nail right on the head.
I would like to state for the record that as a middle class American in suburban New Jersey, I am bitter. I am bitter about the Bush administration's complete lack of disregard for my wellbeing - mental, physical, fiscal. I am bitter about the more than 1/3 of Congress that felt it wasn't their job to expand health insurance coverage for aspiring middle class children. I am bitter about President Bush "hadn't heard that" gas was nearing $4. I am bitter about a Congress who failed to pass comprehensive immigration reform so we could finally move past the xenophobia, the political grandstanding and onto issues - like the economy - that are affecting us here in the middle class. And I am bitter about a government who encouraged bailing out Bear Stearns while placing blame of foreclosure on homeowners.
My, my baby blue, I'm so jaded.
Given this bitterness, it came as quite a shock that Senators Clinton and McCain used that turn of phrase to attack Senator Obama's in-touchness with the middle class. I actually think Senator Obama was dead on. Now, I'm not here to discuss Senator Clinton. If she wants to keep using Republican lines of attack against Senator Obama, that's her prerogative. All I will say is that while I am certainly voting for her if she wins the nomination (as I call on all my fellow Democrats, progressives, and intelligent people to do), it is times like this, when she quotes Grover Norquist to make a point, that I sympathize with the over-zealous Obama supporters who say that she does not deserve their vote.
But Senator McCain certainly deserves it even less.
When a spokesman, Steve Schmidt, said, "It is hard to imagine someone running for president who is more out of touch with average Americans," my immediate reaction was, "oh Steve, let me try. I've got it - your boss." The Drum Major Institute for Public Policy, the think tank that runs themiddleclass.org, grades legislators every year on their performance on votes that pertain to the current and aspiring middle class. In recent years Senator McCain has failed multiple times, voting again and again against legislation that would help middle class Americans. This past year, he couldn't even muster enough disdain for the middle class to show up for the votes on their issues, receiving an "incomplete" grade from DMI. He showed up less for the middle class than all of his fellow Senators, including Senator Tim Johnson, who suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2006 that kept him out of the Senate until September.
Now that is what I call "out of touch".
So let's end Senator McCain's willful ignorance of Senator Obama's "bitter" comments. Let's have a real debate over issues that are affecting current and aspiring middle class Americans every day, like exorbitant gas prices, rising college costs and dropping home values. Let's base our comments and our suggestions in the very real context of the millions of middle class Americans who are struggling to get by, who have (in Senator Obama's words) "fallen through the cracks."
Oh, and Senator McCain? We're talking about middle class Americans. Not Albanians, Algerians or Armenians. Just a reminder.