In the Senate, Obama Yaks, McCain Is Divorced From Reality

By Lindsey Ellerson

Sep 12, 2008 1:57pm

In Dover, N.H., this morning, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., continued to argue that Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is out of touch.

“The good news is that, in 53 days, the name George W. Bush won’t be on the ballot," Obama said. "But make no mistake: his policies will. You know, because a few weeks ago, John McCain said that the economy was making great progress under George Bush, that it was ‘fundamentally strong,’ and that, in fact, we were better off as a consequence of the Bush presidency. And here’s the thing. I think John McCain actually believes it. After all, John McCain, just last night, he said, and I’m quoting here, ‘It’s easy for me to go to Washington and frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have.’ So, maybe from where he and George Bush sit, maybe things do look fundamentally sound. Maybe they don’t see what’s taking place. Maybe they’re that out of touch. But I do see what’s going on and so do you.”

Here’s what McCain actually said last night.

At a CNN/Time forum on national service, moderator Judy Woodruff noted that "at the Republican convention, a couple of speakers, most notably your running mate, vice presidential nominee, Sarah Palin, made somewhat derisive comments about Sen. Obama’s experience as a community organizer." She asked if McCain was asking his supporters to avoid belittling service.

"I think the tone of this whole campaign would have been very different if Sen. Obama had accepted my request for us to appear in town hall meetings all over America, the same way Jack Kennedy and Barry Goldwater had agreed to do so," McCain said. "Gov. Palin was responding to the criticism of her inexperience and her job as a mayor in a small town.  That’s what she was responding to.  Of course, I respect community organizers.  Of course, I respect people who serve their community.  And Sen. Obama’s record there is outstanding.  I praise anyone who serves this nation in capacities that, frankly we all know, that could have been far more financially rewarding to individuals rather than doing what they did."

Woodruff asked if a community organizer’s job is "less significant than the work of a small town mayor?"

"A small town mayor has very great responsibilities," McCain said. "Have responsibility for the budget.  They have hiring and firing of people.  They have great responsibilities.  They have to stand for election.  I admire mayors.  Listen, mayors have the toughest job … in America.  It’s easy for me to go to Washington and, frankly, be somewhat divorced from the day-to-day challenges people have.  So, I admire mayors. I admire anyone who is willing to serve their community and their country."

Later, during Obama’s period on stage, Time editor Richard Stengel asked him if Democrats belittled small town mayors.

"We’ve had an awful lot of small town mayors at the Democratic Convention, I assure you," Obama said. "I meet them all the time.  The mayors have some of the toughest jobs in the country because that’s where the rubber hits the road.  You know, we yak in the Senate.  They actually have to fill potholes and trim trees and make sure the garbage is taken away."

Do you think Obama’s "yak" remark is essentially the same point McCain was making about it being easy for senators to be "divorced from reality"?

- jpt

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