McCain's campaign against Obama isn't really about race - it is about running the same theme the GOP runs against every Democratic presidential candidate while throwing in a few images for the racists.
The objective of the media campaign the GOP wages in national elections, their meta-campaign, is to portray all the Democrats as elitists. Kerry was an elitist, Edwards was an elitist who liked to pretend he was for the poor, Dean was an elitist with an uncontrollable temper, Gore was an elitist who exaggerated, etc.
The only one this GOP PR campaign didn't work on was Bill Clinton, it just couldn't fit a good ol' boy from the wrong side of the tracks in the South. Bill just became a dishonest skirt chaser in the GOP narrative. He was also the one that won.
It is amazing they pull this same campaign just about every time. McCain is the multimillionaire with a dozen homes and $540 shoes while Obama just got done paying off his student loans but Obama is the elitist. Obama worked for years for below median income wages to get poor people better jobs and housing. Obama was raised by a single parent who struggled to make ends meet and middle class grandparents who pushed for scholarships to get him in good schools but according to the spin Obama is the elitist. This is because the GOP and their media allies build up any story that plays up the Democratic elitist myth.
What meta-campaign should the Democrats run against McCain? One likely to stick is "Doesn't McCain look tired?" "Is he doing all right?" I doubt that the Obama campaign will run with it. Democrats don't go in for that type of meta-campaign the Republicans usually win with. There is one other narrative shaping up - that McCain will reverse his position on everything to get elected.
These media narratives are how our press corps works, not just the product of the GOP spinners. This makes it much harder to fight. It also makes it more likely the meta-campaign against McCain will come from the media this year and not directly from the Obama campaign.
Some thoughts on the emerging personal narratives from a reporter covering the campaigns.
If the campaign consultants have their way, 90 days from now roughly half of the electorate will think that John McCain is an angry, nasty and bitter old man. The other half will think that Barack Obama is an egotistical, feckless and immature dilettante.