Normallly presidential campaign season finds Republicans accusing Democrats of being out-of-touch elitists -- but this time it seems the shoe may be on the other foot.
Huffington Post blogger Isabel Wilkinson reported on Wednesday that Senenator John McCain "has worn a pair of $520 black leather Ferragamo shoes on every recent campaign stop — from a news conference with the Dalai Lama to a supermarket visit in Bethlehem, PA."
The story was quickly picked up by CNN's Jeanne Moos, who noted wryly that "Ferragamo narrowly missed getting buried in an applesauce avalanche" on that supermarket stop.
Meghan Cleary, author of The Perfect Fit: What Your Shoes Say About You, told Moos, "I wonder if McCain fancies himself a bit of a fashion plate."
"Maybe the senator has some help in the shoe-shopping department from his fashion-plate wife," Moos speculated. "But wasn't Senator Obama the guy being called an elitist?"
Moos then played footage of Michelle Obama telling Access Hollywood during a family interview that Obama was wearing ten year old pants and a worn-out belt and hurriedly adding, "Don't pan down to the shoes -- because we've talked about getting new shoes for him."
Obama had told a newspaper last spring, "Michelle has asked me to clean up because when she first met me I had one suit. Michelle always finds this funny because I basically buy five of the same suit and then I patch them up and wear them repeatedly. I have four pairs of shoes. Recently, I've taken to getting a haircut more frequently than I used to because my mother-in-law makes fun of me."
Moos concluded with footage of McCain wearing his $520 imported loafers to walk with the sandal-clad Dalai Lama and suggested, "Shouild they meet again, perhaps this simple $275 Prada sandal might work for Senator McCain."
Christopher Hayes blogging at The Nation was skeptical about the significance of the loafer story, seeing it as one that right-wing bloggers would have loved to run with if the shoes had belonged to Obama, but "I'm not a right-wing blogger. And the $520 shoes belong to John McCain. And frankly, I don't think how much his shoes cost matters one whit for how he'd govern the country."
However, as Glenn Greenwald recently pointed out at Salon, "It's long been obvious ... that McCain's only prospect for winning would be to move the election away from debates over issues (where his positions are widely rejected by the public) and instead demonize Barack Obama as an effete, elitist, effeminate, far Leftist, terrorist-loving radical. ... What is far more notable than McCain's now almost-complete reliance on Rovian demonization themes is how obediently the establishment media has been spouting and disseminating them."
So the shoe story may have some legs after all, if only as ammunition for left-wing bloggers to fight back.
This video is from CNN.com, broadcast July 30, 2008.