To combat recent allegations of elitism, Obama has tried to remind people of his working-class upbringing and early-life struggles—which apparently continued long into adulthood. Obama has written, in Dreams From My Father, of growing up with a young, single mother who, he claims, “had to use food stamps at one point.” What the Obamas eat often included classic average-Joe food like “pot roasts and potatoes and Jell-O molds.” Though he now makes a pretty good living Obama isn’t so far removed from the money problems familiar to so many blue-collar families. He only recently paid off his student loans, and Michelle Obama has claimed that the couple even had debt collectors calling on them not too long ago. “I remember those days clearly, sweating to get that mail,” she liked to tell crowds in Pennsylvania, before the primary. “That collection agency, the loan debt people calling you, telling you that you’ve got a few more days before you’re in trouble.” (Though when the Chicago Tribune requested proof to substantiate the story, the Obamas were unable to immediately locate any documentation.) Of course, Obama also has real credibility on account of his early career as a community organizer, helping poor families in the projects of Chicago.
McCain: Straight-Talking Military Man
John McCain fulfills that important criteria for presidential candidates—that he’s the type of guy “Americans would love to go to the pub with,” as Jonah Goldberg wrote for the National Review. Maybe it’s because he sometimes talks like regular riffraff: not only by deploying “straight talk,” where he tell things as he sees them, supposedly without spin or political calculations, but also in his tendency to shout expletives at his elite colleagues in the U.S. Senate, as if they were barflies who looked at him the wrong way. But the salty language just points back to his military career, and—to vastly, vastly understate the case—his decidedly unprivileged experience as POW. (He did not, we should note, start serving his country because it was the only way for him to pay for college: He came from a distinguished military family and attended the Naval Academy.) For his current station in life, McCain’s yearly income is fairly humble—about $250,000 a year. (His wife is the multi-millionaire). And like so many of the nation’s hoi polloi, he gets around on a bus, the Straight Talk Express.