According to a transcript of an interview with Larry King, John McCain thinks racism won't be a factor in this presidential election. I'm not sold, but I hope he's right. It's interesting how he framed this, however:
Referring to people who might vote against Democrat Barack Obama because he is black, McCain added: "It would be a tiny, tiny, minority. Because people are hurting too much now. I mean, they're worried about staying in their homes, keeping their jobs."McCain realizes that Obama's cleaning his clock on the economy, right? I mean, it's obvious from other parts of the interview that McCain wants to get the storyline back onto foreign policy in these final days because he thinks that's stronger ground for him, and to be fair, the perception that voters think he's better on that is probably accurate. (To be clear, I'm not saying he's better--just that a slim majority of voters think that.)
He backs off the charge of socialism--not much, mind you, saying that while he doesn't think Obama is a socialist, he thinks Obama is "in the far left of American politics." Please--you couldn't keep me from dancing in public if Obama was in the far left of American politics. Maybe McCain watched Stephen Colbert a couple of nights ago and decided the socialist line really was stupid.
But back to the first point I was making. Obama has done a couple of things really well in this election cycle. He's tied McCain to Bush's economic policies (with a little help from McCain himself) and he's put an earnings number on the middle class--$250,000 a year for a family. That last part can't be emphasized enough, I think, because it encompasses most Americans, and one of the most undertold stories about the Bush economy has been how the wealthy have made out like bandits, not so much at the expense of the working class--we didn't have much more to sacrifice anyway--but at the expense of the upper-middle class, those people making in the low six-figures. Obama has basically told those people "you might think you're rich, but you're really middle class, and because of that, I'm going to cut you a break."
Now, not everyone in that tax bracket will accept his formulation--some of those people want to think of themselves as rich--but we fetishize the middle class to such an extreme in this country that a lot of those people at the upper range of that income bracket love thinking of themselves as, pardon the phrase, Joe WineBox and Jane SixPack. But a number of the are accepting that place as part of the middle class and are identifying, not with the super-wealthy, but with the working poor. Putting the number out there took the term "middle class" from the abstract to the concrete, and while most politicians hate being nailed down to specifics, this is a case where the specific works. Abstracts are great for bringing people together, but there's a point in an election where you have to draw contrasts, and Obama's done it with that number--$250K a year. Make less than that, and you're one of us, and that, more than anything else, may be what drives Obama to victory next Tuesday.