Really, do the McCains' real estate holdings and his failure to keep count of his wife's Coronado condos make Mr. McCain oblivious to the concerns of ordinary Americans -- any more than their family estates made Franklin D. Roosevelt or John F. Kennedy incapable of feeling the pain of the common man? Do Mr. Obama's four fireplaces, music room, wine cellar and four-car garage count against him? Likewise, Mr. Obama has long said that he had a lapse in judgment in getting entangled with Tony Rezko, a friend and fundraiser who in June was convicted of 16 counts of felony corruption in an influence-peddling scheme, in buying his house.Hey, I've got an idea! Maybe, when ads like these are run, the WaPo could dig into the substance in its news stories. For instance, when it asks, "do the McCains' real estate holdings and his failure to keep count of his wife's Coronado condos make Mr. McCain oblivious to the concerns of ordinary Americans?" it could take a look at his tax cut proposals, his plans to privatize Social Security, his health coverage plan, and other policies that might address the pocketbook concerns of ordinary Americans - and see whether or not they reflect that obliviousness.
But anyone who votes on the basis of this sound-and-fury politics deserves the president he gets.
And then, of course, do the same with Obama's.
Or even better, the WaPo could be proactive, so that candidates wouldn't have to play games like these to get their messages across. Maybe when either candidate makes a speech about a particular issue (as opposed to his regular stump speech), the WaPo could treat it as news, and have a front-page story that primarily addresses the specifics of the candidate's proposals, and only secondarily addresses how it will play.
It could even, from time to time, do news stories comparing what the candidates say on their websites about different issues. It's not like they even have to wait around for a speech anymore, unless the speech says something new.
But if candidates can't get coverage when they talk seriously about policy, who can blame them for talking about how their opponent doesn't know how many houses he has? If that's what the TV and the newspapers will cover, then what else should they do?
It's a shame there's nothing Fred Hiatt can do to change this state of affairs.