On Friday's Hardball, Mike Barnicle, filling in for Chris Matthews, talks to his panel of Margaret Carlson, Michelle Bernard and E. Steven Collins about whether either candidate is too elitist or not and actually "gets" what gas prices are doing to the average American.
He and Margaret Carlson do their best to paint Barack Obama and John McCain with the same stripe saying that all senators are just out of touch with America. Margaret Carlson equates Cindy McCain's unusually high credit card bills to Michelle Obama shopping for lettuce at Whole Foods. Really, Margaret? Do you really think shopping for arugula--that elitist leafy green, according to the media--is the same as Cindy McCain running up three-quarters of a million dollars in credit card debt? Why doesn't he just eat a doughnut to prove he's just like you and me?
That is just flat out obscene on its face. How pathetic to blur the lines between someone who does actually have a sliver spoon in their mouth, and someone who had to come up the hard way and who might have a clue of what it means to be poor, as Michelle Bernard points out. And I don't think he has to eat doughnuts to prove it. But while we're at it, Michelle Bernard, isn't there some middle ground between "elegant" and "angry black man"? I mean, come on.
Transcripts below the fold
Barnicle: ...and I still can't get over the hump that neither one of these guys--John McCain or Barack Obama--gets what five dollars, approaching five dollars a gallon for gasoline does to that family out there in Illinois or Michigan or Montana in which they're paying an extra $35 a week now for gas out of a fixed paycheck. It's a crusher. They don't...do you think they get it?
Carlson: I don't think they get it at the visceral level you're talking about. Cindy McCain spent $750,000 in one month on her credit card. Michelle Obama talks about shopping at Whole Foods and arugula and how hard it is to get fresh fruit. Senators in general are removed from most of us. And, you've, you've mentioned something else which is the coolness. I think one time Mike you said ‘too cool for school', which you and I are old enough to remember that saying. He... you know, you want to say, ‘eat the doughnut,' come on. Don't...do not be so elegant. Let us know that you're a little bit more like us and people, they don't care about that so much in a city councilman or a congressman, but people really like their presidents to be like they are.
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Barnicle: I am so with you on that, Margaret. Go ahead, go ahead.
Bernard: Well Mike, what I was going to say...I'm just...this is so interesting a discussion to have in the context of Barack Obama, because really, if you listen to his story, if you listen to his wife's story as two African Americans, these are people who had to really pull themselves up from their bootstraps. So you know, I often times wonder if he showed, if he were a little bit different and a little less elegant than he is I wonder how the American public would react to that and if all of the sudden, he becomes this very scary angry black man and if that would knock him out of the race. It's sort of he's stuck between a rock and a hard place.
Barnicle: You know I understand that, Michelle, and I think...I think there's as aspect of that argument you just made which is absolutely correct, but Steven we're going to take a break and when we come back, I want you to think about this question, all three of you. Not the angry black man, Barack Obama that Michelle just mentioned, but the idea that as Margaret pointed out, Bill Clinton crying with a woman in 1992 over health care up in New Hampshire. The idea that people want to see more emotion out of a candidate, not just Barack Obama but John McCain and what emotion does to our politics in this country. I think it drives a large part of our politics.