$400 Haircuts Vs. $520 Italian Leather Loafers

I don’t care that John McCain is extremely wealthy. I don’t care that he became wealthy by marrying into a wealthy family. I don’t care about his Armani clothes, his multiple luxurious homes, his wife’s private jet, or his Black Centurion American Express card. His enormous wealth is his business (though it does strike me as more than a little offensive when an obscenely rich senator like McCain votes against an increase in the minimum wage, and argues that our economic problems are “psychological,” but that’s just me).

So, when I saw this report in the Huffington Post about McCain’s Italian leather loafers, which cost $520 a pair, my first instinct was to pay it no mind.

This summer John McCain is traveling in style. He has worn a pair of $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes on every recent campaign stop — from a news conference with the Dalai Lama to a supermarket visit in Bethlehem, PA. The Calfskin loafers, with silver-tone “Gancini” buckles, are imported from Italy.

In response to Barack Obama’s foreign tour, McCain spent much of his energy last week emphasizing his focus on domestic issues. What better way to show his American pride than to tour the country in Italian leather?

The piece shows McCain wearing his extremely expensive Ferragamo shoes all the time.

And while I continue to think this is largely just candidate trivia, it is not without a certain political salience.

I was talking to a friend earlier who summarized the underlying theme of the Republican push against Barack Obama in four words: “He’s not like you.” That sounds about right.

And if so, I have a message for every American family who can’t imagine spending $520 for a pair of loafers: John McCain isn’t like you, either.

I think Chris Hayes gets this just right.

If I were a right-wing blogger, and I found out that Barack Obama was wearing Ferragamo loafers that cost $520, I would spend about 50% of my waking hours making sure everyone knew this. I would mock him for being an out-of-touch elitist and make jokes like, “If you think that’s a lot, you should see how much his purse costs ” I would send the link to Drudge and wait for Instapundit to pick it up, and then watch gleefully as Fox News ran segments about how Barack Obama’s $500 loafers vitiate his entire economic platform.


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But of course, I’m not a right-wing blogger. And the $520 shoes belong to John McCain. And frankly, I don’t think how much his shoes cost matters one whit for how he’d govern the country.

Put it this way — if Barack Obama paid $520 for a pair of Italian loafers, every voter in America would know about it. Every media outlet would report it and every Republican would talk about it.

I’m reminded, of course, of John Edwards’ $400 haircuts. Last year, that story was everywhere, with the Washington Post writing multiple articles about it. “How could Edwards relate to regular folks if he has that kind of lifestyle?” the media asked, over and over again.

Indeed, the media seems to go to great lengths to look for evidence to bolster the far-right meme that Obama is some kind of outsider. From bowling to orange juice to arugula, reporters love to characterize Obama as something less than a “real” American.

Well, McCain has a half-dozen homes and spends on shoes what some families spend on rent. All the while, he advocates more tax cuts for millionaires, opposes increases to the minimum wage, and tells Americans their economic problems are in their heads.

Which candidate is outside the American mainstream?

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