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Posted by on Aug 22, 2008 in Politics | 25 comments

It’s All About the Arugula

When McCain’s people called Obama an “elitist,” the Obama campaign pointed out that the GOP man of the people isn’t exactly living the life of your average middle-class American (let alone your average blue collar one). After all: eight houses?

But some days the stupid is almost too thick to see through.   “This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years — in prison,” spokesman Brian Rogers told the Washington Post. (TPM)

Seems as if we’ve heard this one before. Uh….yes, I guess we have.

For those of you who haven’t kept track, the McCain campaign just recently cited McCain’s POW years in explaining away the Miss Buffalo Chip gaffe, and in dealing with the allegation that he broke the rules and listened in on Barack Obama during the Rick Warren forum.

Also, Rogers made sure to play the anti-intellectual card: “In terms of who’s an elitist, I think people have made a judgment that John McCain is not an arugula-eating, pointy headed professor-type based on his life story.” (TPM)

McCain’s far from unintelligent, so why is this a major theme for his campaign: “Do smart people scare you? If yes, vote for McCain”?

All righty then.

Do you get the impression that Obama’s silence is making the McCain campaign very nervous?

Marc Ambinder:

Sen. John McCain’s campaign is finishing a hard-hitting television ad highlighting Barack Obama ‘s ties to shady Chicago land dealer Tony Rezko, the one-time Obama patron who was convicted earlier this summer of fraud.

A campaign official said that the decision to Go Rezko was Obama’s. “He’s opened the door to this,” the official said….

Though McCain is widely perceived to to drawn first blood by attacking Obama’s character, the official said that the difference between Obama’s mocking McCain for his wealth and his shaky answer on the number of homes he owns was that McCain’s charge “reflects an existential reality,” where Obama’s charges “attack Cindy. She owns the homes. I thought he said the wives were off-limits.”

McCain strategists hope that Obama’s brass knuckles punch doesn’t work. “Americans don’t like this class warfare stuff,” the official said. They aspire to be rich, the official said. They don’t aspire to eat arugala or hang out with celebrities. (Marc Ambinder)

I guess calling Obama “elitist” isn’t class warfare. Honestly, I think Obama should just rise above it. He could bring up McCain’s “poor judgment” in re: the KEATING 5, of course, but if I were his campaign, I’d just produce ad after ad pointing out that McCain’s so lacking in any ideas for helping ordinary Americans with their ever-increasing financial burdens that all he can do is trot out Karl Rove’s same old schoolyard bully techniques.

Though I might be tempted to show a few scenes from his all-American, totally typical ex-vet lifestyle in juxtaposition with shots, say, of some typical vets enduring typical vet hardships. Or of working Americans whose jobs got sent to the far east and whose homes have gone down the latrine as a result of the housing crisis.

Anyway: “Existential reality”? That phrase does not mean what the McCain official who used it thinks it means. (Note to McCain campaign: leave the philosophical references to the Arugula-eaters. Otherwise, they might think your guys are secret arugula-eaters.) So now the strategy is….to focus on McCain as an ordinary, God-fearing vet who just happened to marry a beer heiress and whose material success is attributable to that?

By the way, the arugula meme cracks me up. Say it with me. “Ar-U-gu-la!” It’s as if any time anyone from that campaign speaks, they’re blowing a little ah-OOGA horn. I laugh every time one of them says it. But I’m laughing at them, not with them.

As for not aspiring to hang out with celebrities, is McCain’s spokesman kidding? It’s replaced the American dream as the American dream. Well, except the dream where the object of your little extramarital fling turns out to be a beer heiress. (Before you go crazy, I like Cindy and I’m not interested in McCain’s marital history. In the parlance of McCain’s people, they brought her up before I did).

I used to kind of like McCain. As Republicans go, I thought he was one of the good ones. Remember when Fox News and the far right pundits and bloggers hated his guts? Remember back when all the moderate Republicans gave the bird to Fox News and the far right pundits and bloggers, and picked the seemingly moderate guy to be the presumptive nominee?

For a Dem, Obama’s middle-of-the-road and for a Republican, McCain seemingly was. There was a time when I might have thought there wasn’t much to choose between them and that at least McCain is a known quantity. But “Neocon John” made me an Obama supporter. Think of that.

Too bad he’s taking his campaign tips from the School of Karl Rove and pandering to them and the End-Times Christians instead of the swing voters. It’s as if the McCain the Republicans are offering us is the real McCain’s evil twin. Though maybe the evil twin is the real McCain. You be the judge:

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  • DLS

    The picture and title don’t match the point being made here.

    Obama fans overreacting [once again, this time] to the elitism charge, should let it slide the way of the celebrity charge, and Move On.

    You can have some fun, perhaps wearing arugula lapel pins or becoming arugula-wine-sipping-elitist liberal snobs for the fun of it. But stop the overreacting.

    As for McCain, his campaign continues to flounder.



    My “charge” is the intrinsic hilariousness of the “arugula” meme and the silliness of an argument that blatantly asks voters to decide that Obama is a “pointy-headed arugula eating professor” and McCain a down-to-earth man of the people.

    I think the whole thing is ridiculous and insulting to the moderate McCain used to be. But also exceedingly funny.

    I am no Obama fan—though I’m supporting him now. I certainly like him better than the McCain I’ve seen since he got the nomination. Maybe he was always this way and I just wasn’t paying attention.

    A year ago, I used to think McCain was a moderate Republican. I always liked him. I wish he were running a different sort of campaign. Which was actually the point of the arugula reference.

  • PWT


  • jwest


    We differ on McCain – I can’t stand the guy. Never could. But, since Obama is the greater of two evils, I will end up voting for McCain.

    What I can’t understand is why the concepts of strategy and timing are alien to Democrats. Has there ever been an election that Democrats couldn’t win if the elections were held in July?

    The “elitist” charge was a preliminary stage setter in response to Obama’s guns and religion comments. His greatest liabilities are (in ascending order):

    • Rezko
    • Ayers
    • Wright

    Rezko will play out over the next few weeks. It will establish that Obama isn’t something new, but a typical Chicago Democrat (read “crook”).

    One of the 527’s is jumping the gun in Michigan and Ohio by playing the Ayers card now. This must be because of the timing of the University of Illinois cover-up of the Annenberg Challenge documents, but still it will drive home the “un-American” aspects of the Obama story.

    Wright will be rolled out after the convention to nail the coffin shut on any notion that Obama is “post-racial”. By the time the ads get through with him, people will be calling Child Protective Services in Chicago wondering why Obama is allowed to keep his daughters after taking them to that church.

    If you think you’ve seen buyer’s remorse on Obama so far, wait a few months.

  • Holly_in_Cincinnati

    Until recently, I had no idea what arugula was. I finally spotted some, probably at Trader Joe’s.

  • Did any of you see Countdown last night? Keith Olbermann caught McCain eating and serving couscous at the BBQ he had for the press.


  • So McCain is a couscous eating Karl Rove clone? Hey, my family is a definite middle class family, and we eat couscous sometimes. It’s really good. I don’t know that I’ve ever eaten arugula before, though.

    The thing is, I’m not choosing my candidate based on what they eat. I don’t care if Obama is pointy-headed. I don’t give a damn if McCain owns 10 houses. I care about where they stand and what their campaign tactics are. And McCain’s blatant hypocrisy, “Celebrity” ads. and his capitulation to the Karl Rove machine have totally lost my respect. Completely. To think, I used to like him. I liked him in the early debates, but now…

  • Ricorun

    Funny, I never thought of myself as a pointy-headed elitist. But, judging from my preferences in cuisine, apparently I am. Does that mean I have to switch from beer to Two Buck Chuck?

  • This just in: John “Salt of the Earth” McCain orders large cappuccino’s from Starbucks!,0,2934245.story

    Elitist! Snob!

  • DLS

    My response and use of “you” wasn’t directed only to you, Damozel. Sorry for any confusion I may have caused. Too many Obama fans have overreacted to not only a childish but ridiculous extent over the celebrity attack, the elitist attack, and so on, dwarfing any criticism that can be directed at these attacks or the “can’t count his houses” types of issues, which some have taken the time to say are trivial compared to resolving the Iraq occupation, addressing the economy, the now-long-neglected health care issue, and so on.

    What’s _really_ needed (to return to mainstream attacks) is to catch McCain drinking expensive liquors or eating _caviar_. (Russian caviar as he criticizes Putin, for extra effect.)

  • Kathryn

    Chris WWW, you forgot to mention the 9 car motorcade needed for him to get the cappuccino. (Too bad it wasn’t a latte!)

  • DLS

    “Obama is a ‘pointy-headed arugula eating professor'”

    “Liberal Democrat” is easier to say and may be more effective at repelling voters.

    Besides, Obama doesn’t have a beard, an ideal component of the stereotype.

  • This just in: “The McCains increased their budget for household employees from $184,000 in 2006 to $273,000 in 2007, according to John McCain’s tax returns.”

    If John McCain can’t count the number of houses he has, he certainly won’t be able to count the number of servants he has in those houses.

    It sure must be nice to marry rich. Good job John!

  • GeorgeSorwell

    McCain’s greatest liabilities are:

    • Bush
    • Cheney
    • Rice

    You know, the Republicans whose leadership of our country has been a disaster!!

  • jwest


    Of course, I disagree with the premise, but that doesn’t matter.

    The fact is, NBC, ABC, CBS, PBS, the NYTimes, etc. have spent the last 7 years giving McCain hundreds of millions in free air time highlighting his disagreements with the Bush administration.

    In the coming weeks, you will see ads featuring clips of every prominent democrat, along with practically every television news personality praising McCain for his independence and judgment.

    Obama’s been trying to paint McCain with the Bush brush – it just ain’t working.

  • jwest,
    Are those clips going to be more powerful than those of McCain saying he has no disagreements with Bush? I doubt it.

  • DLS

    “In the coming weeks, you will see ads featuring clips of every prominent democrat, along with practically every television news personality praising McCain for his independence and judgment.”

    My bet instead is that they’ll push the “McSame” Big Lie that McCain is another Bush.

  • My bet instead is that they’ll push the “McSame” Big Lie that McCain is another Bush.

    Despite supporting the same tax policy, having love for the same Supreme Court picks, pushing the same policies that help big oil.

    The only appreciable difference I see is that McCain is more bellicose when it comes to foreign policy. And that can’t be considered a good thing outside of the Krauthammer household.

  • DLS

    McCain has frequently defied the GOP (and Americans at large, sometimes, such as McCain-Feingold, spitting at the First Amendment). The only question you may really have is in each instance, is he really being a Dem Lite or is he just seeking attention. (As I noted, many of the same things are now, albeit suddenly, being said about Joe Lieberman.)

    Meanwhile, Obama and Clinton have (or had) nearly identical agendas, but you wouldn’t believe it from how she was treated (including on this site) by Obama fans.

  • McCain-Feingold is the best you can come up with? 🙂 The Big Lie turns into an Inconvenient Truth.

  • pacatrue

    Somebody needs to stick a muzzle on the McCain campaign spokesman Rogers. Apparently, we are all supposed to hate anyone with a professorship as well now? Does that include Condi Rice, the Stanford prof? How about Ken Starr, law professor? Jack Kemp? Rogers probably hates the wives and children of 20% of the Republican administration and Congress. I’m sure he will disown his children if they tell him they’ve decided to pursue and advanced degree as well. Someone needs to tell Rogers he’s not some dude with a blog. He sets the tone for American politics.

    Hate, hate, hate! It’s the wave of our political future.

  • pacatrue,
    I love what Sullivan said about him…
    “And who is this Brian Rogers? Apart from sounding like an asshole in every single quote of his I see?”

  • Rambie

    I think they should only serve arugula salads at the GOP convention. See how many of them notice. LOL

    What’s funny is my Grandmother’s response to the arugula thing. During the depression the only leafy green she had was wild arugula and dandelion leaf, she couldn’t stand the stuff anymore.

  • Rambie

    jwest: “In the coming weeks, you will see ads featuring clips of every prominent democrat, along with practically every television news personality praising McCain for his independence and judgment.”

    They’ve tried this one already, only ONE of the clips was within the last 4 years. But go ahead and try it, I could use a good laugh.

    Pacatrue: “Hate, hate, hate! It’s the wave of our political future.”

    I think the future arrived already.

  • DLS

    “McCain-Feingold is the best you can come up with?”

    No, just one example. No, I don’t have to provide “sufficient” (which never will be) other examples.

    * * *

    “Apparently, we are all supposed to hate anyone with a professorship as well now?”

    The general public knows fully well, and immediately, what was meant by his “professor” remark. It doesn’t fail for the “reason” you give; it fails for other reasons. (Beginning with, Obama doesn’t have a beard…)

    * * *

    “I think they should only serve arugula salads at the GOP convention.”

    Next to the tire pressure gauges…

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