The odor of elitism is like onion breath: It's quick to acquire, hard to mask. Try as he might, Barack Obama cannot camouflage the political stink he exhaled when he dissed small-town Americans as "bitter" Neanderthals "clinging" to their guns, faith and belief in strict immigration enforcement. It wasn't the first time the effete Snob-ama revealed himself.
In Philadelphia, he passed up the hometown cheesesteak -- gloppy, artery clogging and blue-collar (yum!) -- for a nibble of Spanish-imported, $100/pound ham. In Iowa, he moaned to voters about the price of arugula at Whole Foods market. (Fun fact: There aren't any Whole Foods markets in Iowa.) And at an Altoona bowling alley, he couldn't even score his age. Superficial but telling glimpses of a condescending core.
Obama is reportedly flummoxed that his remarks have been interpreted as arrogant. After all, he was a "community organizer" who came from a single-parent home! He is The Everyman. The Uniter. The Soul-Fixer. The Vessel of All Hopes and Dreams. How could he possibly be perceived as out of touch?
Well, Beltway elitism isn't about biography. It's a corrupted state of mind. Obama can at least console himself with the knowledge that he has plenty of out-of-touch company in both parties in Washington.
Let's face it. Hundred-million-dollar Hillary "I'm not Tammy Wynette" Clinton, John "$400 Haircut" Edwards, John "French" Kerry and Al "$30,000 utility bill" Gore make Obama look like a peon of pretension. And it's hard to top the imperiousness of Reps. Cynthia McKinney, Patrick Kennedy and Sheila Jackson-Lee, who all abused law enforcement or service workers while demanding special privileges as "public servants."
But Republicans are just as susceptible to the Democrats' do-as-I-say virus.
Take Obama's GOP presidential rival, John McCain. The New York Times-endorsed media darling got a standing ovation from the nation's newspaper editors at a big journalism powwow in Washington this week. Some maverick. While McCain eagerly criticized Obama as an "elitist" for his derisive comments about small-town Pennsylvanians, Obama's got nothing on McCain when it comes to insulting average Americans who oppose illegal immigration.
Pandering to the open-borders lobby as cozily as Obama panders to San Francisco billionaires, McCain has attacked grassroots enforcement activists as bitter racists and xenophobes, cursed his Senate opponents and mocked the "goddamned fence" in front of his deep-pocketed business supporters. And who can forget his disdainful admonition to conservatives, whom he berated to "calm down."
GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham, McCain's ally, infamously vowed to National Council of La Raza leaders, "We're going to tell the bigots to shut up." Retired GOP-Senator-turned-lobbyist Trent Lott moaned about populist conservative talk radio being a "problem" that Washington Republicans had to "deal with."
Speaking of whom, what's old vacant Lott up to now? The Washington Post reported last week that he's "struggling" to adjust to life in the private sector. "I took the Metro for the first time," he told the paper. It's hard not having his own taxpayer-funded car and driver anymore. And this bozo bon mot: "I haven't paid for lunch in 30 years," he joked.
Memo to Beltway GOP: If you are looking to repair your image with your conservative base, this is not the kind of press you want. Makes for great cable TV greenroom small talk. Not so good for your beleaguered fundraising efforts. And not so helpful if you plan to convince voters in the general election that you are materially different from Snob-ama and his Democratic colleagues who traffic in contempt for the common man. It's going to take more than rhetorical Altoids to dispel the smell.