The McCain camp is already in hysterics about the so-called “Housing Crisis”, indignantly fuming about how everything (Rezko, Ayers, Wright) is “fair game” and how brazen of Obama it was to open this issue. This sentiment has been echoed on Political Derby. As it’s likely to only incite more irrational babble I won’t bother trying to explain why repeating a direct quote is different than casting aspersions on past liaisons, but I will explain why, Obama’s former associations notwithstanding, McCain supporters should worry.

This gaffe evinces a previously inchoate but crucial narrative about the disconnect between McCain’s policies and the economic expediences of most Americans. While it’s true that not having a firm grasp on how many houses you own doesn’t prove in and of itself a disconnect, it helps draw a starker contrast between Obama’s progressive tax plan, which cuts taxes for 80 percent of Americans while raising them primarily on those earning more than $9.1 million yearly, and McCain’s plan, which cuts taxes on those making over $9.1 million, and whose cuts for 80 percent of Americans would be dwarfed by Obama’s by a not-so-piddling 450 percent. (This data comes from the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, though it appeared in David Leonhardt’s NYT article.) This is a very powerful message that until recently hasn’t found a compelling narrative. Given how prominently the economy will play in this election — especially in light of recent developments in Iraq — this should prove quite damaging to McCain.

Moreover, if the importance of the gaffe lies in its poignancy, its beauty is in its simplicity. Here is a quote, direct from the candidate himself in the middle of the campaign, that highlights what should be a serious advantage for Obama. Conversely, the Rezko, Ayers, and Wright affairs all rely on the more difficult to prove transitive property of sleaziness and America-hatred. The Rezko issue is not easy to understand, nor are its implications so direct. What’s more, Wright, and to a certain degree, Ayers, have already been aired ad nauseum. These attacks are not as easily digested, and their relevance is as at best peripheral.

Finally, by refraining from heavily publicizing negative attacks against McCain, Obama has allowed McCain to earn a reputation as a negative campaigner, thus limiting McCain’s credibility to claim umbrage.

All in all, big score for the Obama camp.

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