21 August 2008

Lifestyles of the rich & famous

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in an interview Wednesday that he was uncertain how many houses he and his wife, Cindy, own.

"I think — I'll have my staff get to you," McCain told Politico in Las Cruces, N.M. "It's condominiums where — I'll have them get to you."

The correct answer is at least four, located in Arizona, California and Virginia, according to his staff. Newsweek estimated this summer that the couple owns at least seven properties.
Obama doesn't wait to make this an issue:

I like this ad: it's truthful and likely to resonate well in this time of housing and mortgage insecurity. I'm glad to finally see someone making the point that the guy who owns eleven homes, wears $520 shoes, flies around in a private jet, and thinks that under $5 million is not rich is the one who's the real elitist in this race. I also like the tag line about the one more house we can't let McCain have.

This is also a rather cautious ad. Some counts put McCain's total as high as eleven (here's a nice rundown), but I suspect that Obama didn't want to fall into a gotcha trap, so they went with the easily provable number of seven. I think Ygelsias had the funniest take on it:
[There] is one reason why it’s a bit unfair to tag McCain as out of touch for being unable to remember how many homes he owns. When one of your homes is really a combination of two different luxury condos the metaphysical status of your property comes into question. You’d really need to ask a trained professional mereologist to resolve the issue and can’t expect McCain to speak to it personally.


  1. Well about one thing he is right - under $5 mil one is not really rich. Just really well off

  2. it is equally disingenuous imo for michelle obama to go around acting as if they have to worry about how much summer camp costs and pretending they are middle class.
    the obama's live in a home valued at over a million dollars plus part of the adjacent lot purchased at a discount from a person of questionable character.
    do they really want to go there?

  3. I guess this would be a real topic of conversation, as opposed to a strawman argument, if McCain is somehow trying to pass himself off as something he isn't. But I can understand your disgust, Obama has been passing himself off as something he isn't for quite some time now and his supports realize that and project their own internalize disgust at their candidate to someone who isn't hiding anything.

  4. dimitrios,

    McCain is the one relentlessly attacking Obama as "elite" and a "celebrity." Whether these attacks are relevant or legit is another question. But it's certainly legit for Obama to turn the tables and subject McCain to the same scrutiny and an episode of "Celebrity Cribs."


    Yeah, the Obamas made about $4 mil last year. Ironically, under McCain's definition, that doesn't even qualify as rich! However, it's important to remember that from the years 2000-2004, Obama only averaged $240/yr in income. Comfortable, to be sure, but not 10-house territory. It was only once he started writing books that his income took off.

    The point there is that the Obamas are still quite close to their middle class roots; the McCains are both children of privilege.

  5. I thought it would be impossible to "outlame" the McCain is old strategy, but I think the McCain has lots of houses meme does the trick.

    The former cost your candidate 5 to 10 points in the polls (depending which survey you read). This new one may drive your man below 40%.

  6. not to be nitpicky but
    they listed 4 mil in 2007
    900k in 2006
    1.67 mil in 2005
    and prior to that
    240-270k since 2000.

    i'm sure they could have made a lot more as partners in a big law firm but they weren't concerned enough about their finances to limit their spending on a house or to pay off their student loans faster.

    mccain to my knowledge has not tried to portray the family as anything but well off. however their finances have always been separate and he might reasonably not know the answer to the question, particularly if it involves things like rental properties.

    i guess you could argue that he is closer to his middle class roots since he is younger, but he lives in a million dollar home and feels comfortable enough that his wife can go part time to work etc etc. you might also argue that obama being younger has more earning potential than mccain now that he is in the spotlight, not that i think the money is what drives him.

    both are rich and to pretend otherwise is what (mildly) offends me.

    (completely separate issue here-does clinton really need to talk to the tune of 140 mil? i mean, i know he was basically bankrupt when he left office, but still jeez)

  7. err that should be 40 million but you get the point.

  8. I think his comment was appropriate.

    He has a house he lives in, I'm sure he has some investment property, his wife owns multiple properties which may or may not have his name on the deed, and he owns properties for his children, which may or may not have either his name or his wife's on the deed.

    I think he said what he did to minimize the chances of being accused of lying or otherwise misrepresenting if he counted some of his wife's properties as his own or other mistake.

  9. Middle class roots?

    Are you kidding me?

    Obama and his wife are Harvard alumni...

    I've been middle class my whole life and none of my bar buddies went to Harvard...

    Call a spade a spade... JFK was never ashamed of his dad's cash.

    That just makes Obama a hypocrite just like the rest of his elitist, democratic ilk...

  10. anon,

    You're either trolling or willfully ignorant. Obama was raised by a single mom and his parents and was on food stamps at times. Michelle also came from a blue collar family on the south side of Chicago. They got into harvard law on the basis of hard work and ability, and paid for it like I paid for med school: loans and student aid.

    McCain, on the other hand is a child of privilege. He was the son of an admiral who graduated at the bottom of his class at the academy, yet somehow landed a highly covered slot in flight school. How'd that work? He married well (at least the second time) and hasn't had a financial worry in thirty years.

    Tell me now who's the elitist.


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