The Shoe Factor
If I may return to the question of John McCain's $520 Salvatore Ferragamo Pregiato Moccasins imported from Italy, I want to say that I think the fact that McCain is an extremely wealthy man is more legitimately relevant to the campaign than a lot of liberals seem willing to credit. If it turned out that back in his State Senate days Barack Obama passed some laws that massively increased the value of a parcel of land he owned, people would report on that story. Or if John McCain was a major stockholder in a defense contracting firm and used his clout on the Armed Services Committee to steer contracts in their direction, people would consider that a relevant factor. And if a governor somewhere were dipping into the state treasury and transferring the money into personal accounts, people would care.
So when you look at something like the distributive impact of Barack Obama's tax plans versus the distributive impact of John McCain's tax plans, it doesn't strike me as ludicrous to say that people ought to spend some time pondering the fact that McCain is a member of the small minority of people who would have higher after tax income under his plan than under Obama's:
On the merits, of course, bad policy is bad policy irrespective of who proposes it. Repealing the estate tax would be a bad idea even if John McCain had no kids, and even if the McCain family didn't own eleven houses. But still, self-dealing holds a special role in conventional political discussions, and it's not for nothing that McCain makes a big deal out of the ideas of honor and sacrifice as campaign themes.