Friday, August 22, 2008

The Tipping Point

Webster's New Millennium™ Dictionary of English defines a tipping point as: "the culmination of a build-up of small changes that effects a big change." Wednesday, in response to a simple question about how many houses he and his wife owned, John McCain couldn't give a straight answer. He didn't know how many. Estimates range from seven to twelve houses, but McCain couldn't pull any kind of number out of his ass. "I think--I'll have my staff get back to you", he lamely replied.

I think that, like Bush 41's surprise and confusion when confronted with a supermarket scanner in 1992, we've reached a similar tipping point in this election. McCain's people have tried to paint Obama as an out-of-touch, arugula-eating, egghead elitist, and it's backfired on them; fatally, I believe. The Karl Rove-driven campaign has been trying to make the case that a man who was raised by a single mother who was no stranger to food stamps, a man who went to college and law school on scholarships and loans, and who literally has close relatives who live in huts, is an elitist! They now are desperately trying to hide the fact that their own man is so rich that he doesn't know how many houses he and his wife own. Who's the elitist now?

First of all, I don't understand the problem with being an "elitist". As John Stewart once pointed out, the American Heritage Dictionary defines the word "elite" as "noun: A group or class of persons or a member of such a group or class, enjoying superior intellectual, social, or economic status". Don't we want the superior candidate to have the job? I don't think judging the presidential candidates on the basis of who's the one you'd most like to belly up to the bar with, worked too well last time. Secondly, some of our best presidents, Theodore Roosevelt, FDR, and JFK, to name a few, were from "elite" families and fortunes. They may have been rich, but they understood the hopes and fears of ordinary people.

I think the phrase that more accurately describes the problem is "out of touch". If you understand that people are worried about keeping their homes out of foreclosure, then you're not out of touch. If you realize that for the vast majority of people in this country, the economy stinks right now, then you're not out of touch. If you can see that people are worried that their children won't be able to afford to attend college, then you're not out of touch. If you agree with most Americans that we need to get out of Iraq as quickly as possible, then you're not out of touch.

When he couldn't even say how many houses he owned, John McCain irrefutably proved that he was out of touch, and the tipping point of this election was reached. Take him off the fire, he's done.

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