As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

The Simple Life

John McCain is extremely rich. Not just a little bit rich, but fabulously wealthy. This leads to awkward moments like this which are likely to be replayed throughout this "Forgotten Americans" tour.

Standing before a nearly shuttered factory pocked with broken windows, John McCain on Tuesday urged Americans to reject the "siren song of protectionism" and embrace a future of free trade.

He used his own recent political fortunes — a dramatic fade followed by an unexpected comeback to secure the Republican presidential nomination — to illustrate that depressed Rust Belt cities such as Youngstown can have bright futures.

"A person learns along the way that if you hold on — if you don't quit no matter what the odds — sometimes life will surprise you," McCain said in a speech at Youngstown State University after meeting the five remaining workers at Fabart, a steel-fabricating factory that had more than 100 employees a few years ago.

In other words, "keep working at luring your factory back home, look at me, I had a few less million to spend than Mitt Romney!"

It's really an out-of-touch statement, and the Ohio Democratic Party pounced on it:

The difference between Youngstown and McCain couldn't be starker:

• Youngstown is a working class city; John McCain is one of the richest members of the Senate.

• McCain's plans shred the safety net for Youngstown; McCain's safety net is a rich heiress wife worth $100 million.

"McCain's attempt to compare a poorly-managed campaign budget to the increasing demands on a family's budget shows the bubble McCain lives in," said Kelly.

You cannot analogize the continuing struggles in the manufacturing sector to a campaign fundraising deficit. Especially when you are, as I said fabulously wealthy. John Edwards would say throughout his campaign "We're all going to be fine, the American people won't be." McCain seems to be saying "We're all struggling together, you and I... never mind the beer distributor fortune."

Today we got a sense of how John McCain rewards his elite friends. The story dropped on the same day as the Pennsylvania primary so nobody's paying attention to it, but it's fairly devastating.

Donald R. Diamond, a wealthy Arizona real estate developer, was racing to snap up a stretch of virgin California coast freed by the closing of an Army base a decade ago when he turned to an old friend, Senator John McCain.

A letter from Senator John McCain may have helped Donald R. Diamond, a longtime friend, gain the rights to develop property at a former Army base. Mr. Diamond has raised more than $250,000 so far for Mr. McCain’s presidential campaign.
When Mr. Diamond wanted to buy land at the base, Fort Ord, Mr. McCain assigned an aide who set up a meeting at the Pentagon and later stepped in again to help speed up the sale, according to people involved and a deposition Mr. Diamond gave for a related lawsuit. When he appealed to a nearby city for the right to develop other property at the former base, Mr. Diamond submitted Mr. McCain’s endorsement as “a close personal friend.”

Writing to officials in the city, Seaside, Calif., the senator said, “You will find him as honorable and committed as I have.”

Courting local officials and potential partners, Mr. Diamond’s team promised that he could “help get through some of the red tape in dealing with the Department of the Army” because Mr. Diamond “has been very active with Senator McCain,” a partner said in a deposition.

We can keep talking about waffles and bowling and shots of Crown Royal, but in truth we have a Republican wedded to the issues of the wealthy, and Democrats discussing issues that affect workers. This is true this year as much as any primary in recent memory. And so we cannot lose sight of that.

See also Tom Frank on this issue.

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