REV. WARREN: Okay, on taxes, define "rich." Everybody talks about, you know, taxing the rich but not the poor, the middle class. At what point -- give me a number. Give me a specific number. Where do you move from middle class to rich? Is it $100,000? Is it $50,000? Is it $200,000? How does anybody know if we don't know what the standards are?
SEN. MCCAIN:...I don't want to take any money from the rich. I want everybody to get rich. (Laughter.) I don't believe in class warfare or redistribution of wealth. But I can tell you, for example, there are small businessmen and women who are working 16 hours a day, seven days a week, that some people would classify as, quote, "rich," my friends, and want to raise their taxes and want to raise their payroll taxes.
Let's have -- keep taxes low. Let's give every family in America a $7,000 tax credit for every child they have. Let's give them a $5,000 refundable tax credit to go out and get the health insurance of their choice. Let's not have the government take over the health care system in America. (Applause.)
So I think if you're just talking about income, how about $5 million?
Now, he hemmed and hawed about that. But it was a simple question: where's the line? And that was the only number he could come up with. No matter what you pick, you're bound to piss off some people. But if you understand what things cost, if you have a passing sense for what it takes to get by in the world, you can come up with a number. That number -- where you cross from middle-class to rich -- is a measure of abundance. Sure, some people feel more comfort is due the middle class than others. Certainly, if you're on the bottom of the middle class most of what's above you looks rich enough. And McCain may have shot high on purpose, giving himself a chance to look like a kidder.
But even that underlines the essential flaw here: He really doesn't know where the line is. He doesn't even have a framework for talking about it. He flies on a private jet, owns eight homes and wears $500 shoes. That's more money than most people make in a week and he wears it on his feet. Those pictures of him looking clueless in a supermarket aren't the result of a bad day--he really is clueless about the average American.
The Obama's are rich (though by McCain's line, they're comfortably middle class). But at least they recognize that. And they've devoted their careers to helping ordinary folks. And they recognize that in order to help the common person, you have to understand the common person. McCain, though he wants you to believe he has your best interests at heart, has no idea what your interests are.
In response to that blind-spot, he's essentially adopted Bush's approach to policy discussions. But instead of saying "911 911 911 911," he says, "POW POW POW POW POW."
Which answers exactly nothing. But it has the effect of halting the conversation. That's something he does understand.