There’s No Place Like Home

Can you see her? Judy Garland in her red shoes, clicking her heels and repeating the mantra: “There’s no place like home. There’s no place like home.” Voila! She wakes up in her very own little bed in her very own little shack out on her very own little Kansas farm, surrounded by family and farm hands, all safe and sound. Kitsch doesn’t get any more All-American than that.
What would happen, do you think, if John McCain clicked his heels together and mumbled, “There’s no place like home”? Apparently he might wake up in any one of about eight different places. I’ll bet none of the eight is located in Kansas.
Obama hopes to make political hay out of McCain’s inability to remember exactly how many houses he has. This is reminiscent of the elder George Bush’s expression of amazement about bar codes in a local supermarket during the 1992 campaign. Both gaffs make the candidate seem out of touch.
Obama boasts of having only one home. He hasn’t mentioned that his crib set him back a reported $1.65 million. That amount just about equaled the Obamas’ combined income for the year they made the purchase. The Chicago Tribune reported in November 2006, “They were drawn to a 96-year-old Georgian revival home that has four fireplaces, glass-door bookcases fashioned from Honduran mahogany, and a 1,000-bottle wine cellar, according to real estate listings and an interview.”
Obama’s book deals and his wife’s $300,000 a year vice presidency with Chicago University Hospitals together accounted for their seven-figure gross annual income.
Well, heck, Olympian Mike Phelps is expected to gross $30 million in product endorsements during the year ahead. So what’s the big deal about Obama and spouse pulling down $1.67 mil? Phelps no doubt will start accumulating real estate, too.
Meanwhile, he’s taking some heat for adding Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes to his list of clients. Writes one web pundit, “The deal has earned Phelps harsh criticism from some doctors, such as nutritionist Rebecca Solomon of Mount Sanai Medical Center. In a Daily News article posted this morning, Solomon said, ‘I would not consider Frosted Flakes the food of an Olympian.’ That’s the understatement of the day. I would consider Frosted Flakes to be the food of a generation of obese, diabetic, ADHD kids who need real role models they can follow, not sellout junk food promoters who trade fame for unethical profits.” (
This guy’s rap on fatties reminds me of the last time McCain got into trouble, but not for anything he said. A McCain advisor, Phil Gramm, created the flap by calling America “a nation of whiners.” Well, sorry folks, but I tend to agree that the overweight whiner has become an American archetype. If the shoe fits (and the pants don’t), I say wear it.
But let’s stop whining for a minute here and take a reality break. McCain is rich. Obama is rich. Even a kid, whose only apparent distinction is the ability to move from one end of a swimming pool to the other faster than anybody else, is rich. If you’re rich, too, then more power to you.
The simple truth is, ain’t no poor folks likely to run for president, or senator, or most any other important post. The last poor president, I guess, was Harry Truman. As a sitting U.S. Senator seeking reelection, Truman sometimes slept in his car while on the campaign trail. Once upon a time he had gone bankrupt. When his term in the White House was over, he and wife Bess moved back to the home in Independence Missouri that they had shared for years with her mother.
They just don’t make ‘em like old Harry any more, folks. Senator Obama may play the “poor mouth” card against Senator McCain, but in reality his feet are just as firmly planted on the Yellow Brick Road as are his opponent’s.
[Jim Castagnera is the Associate Provost and Associate Counsel at Rider University. He is writing his 14th book, about terrorism’s impact on higher education, for Praeger.]


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