McCain doesn't lack "chutzpah." Yesterday his campaign actually accused Barack Obama of being an "elitist" for saying that it's not surprising that people in small Midwestern towns are bitter after seeing their standard of living systematically destroyed over the last three decades.
Damn right they're bitter; they have good reasons to be. And most of those reasons are the economic and trade policies that have -- and continue to be -- championed by George Bush and John McCain.
The McCain campaign is managed by a cadre of Washington-insider special interest lobbyists. He and his current wife are estimated to be worth about $100 million. He reportedly owns eight houses. His let-them-eat-cake economic policies are based on George Bush's failed radical conservative "you're on your own buddy" philosophy. One after another he supported trade agreements that protect the rights of corporations, but ignore the rights of labor, and have devastated one Pennsylvania community after another. He gets most of his campaign cash from the wealthiest corporate interests around. And he has the gall to call Barack Obama an "elitist"?
This is the same Barack Obama who spent years of his life organizing out-of-work steelworkers on the south side of Chicago -- people just like those who live in Allentown or Erie or Pittsburgh or the Monongehela Valley in western Pennsylvania. He stood shoulder to shoulder with them, sat at their kitchen tables, spent hours in their church basements.
He didn't do those things as a famous candidate, but as a community organizer being paid $8,000 a year by a coalition of churches. You don't build a resume or a client list organizing unemployed steel workers. You do it because you respect the people and you care about justice.
In fact, the trademark of Barack Obama's campaign for president is the honest, respectful way he talks to everyone -- and stands up for everyday Americans.
If you want to talk about patronizing, or "elitism", you need look no farther than the way Bush and McCain attempt to use fear and division to divert the attention of middle class people from the economic policies that pick their pockets, lower their wages, destroy their unions, and outsource their jobs. And all the while they use our money to bail out Wall Street, and give giant tax breaks to the real "elitists" -- the economic elite.
It is Barack Obama who can lead a movement to change the way things are done in Washington. He can do it by empowering and inspiring the people who live in small-town Pennsylvania, and all of the other middle class Americans who have been left out by Bush-McCain policies that have benefited the "masters of the universe" on Wall Street and the Gucci-shoed lobbyist set on "K" Street.
As for Hillary Clinton, who joined in attacking Obama's statement: she should know better. She knows that Obama is the furthest thing from an elitist, and she should know better than to join in the Republican narrative about the candidate who is the likely Democratic standard bearer in the fall.
Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.