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I did a bit of griping earlier this week about Rick Santorum's bogus "blue collar cred." Now Laura's got a front-pager up about Mitt Whatshisname going on about living in France without a toilet for the press gods at the Detroit Free Press.

Wrong day for me, guvnah. Really wrong day.

I don't think of myself as poor, though I might could. I'm actually a lot better off than I have been over the years. Got chow, the rain stays on the outside, etc.

Some of my neighbors can't brag like that. Let me give you a brief glimpse into the life of one of them.

She's 90 years old and a very good Christian (though she's broken a few commandments along the road--in ways that would turn Rick Santorum whiter). She prays for the people she loves and those she doesn't, because who is she to judge?

She lives on Social Security and a home heating stipend and commodity food and Medicare and her wits. She's fortunate that she can still get around enough to be independent and unfortunate that she can't afford to do it well.

Part of that mixed blessing involves her house. She pays an incredibly low rent, with the understanding that what's there's what's there. No repairs, no bitching. She can't use the front room, as the roof hasn't really been right since Katrina, but she's got a bedroom and a kitchen and a bathroom.

Well, she did until yesterday, when the rotten floor finally gave way and the toilet went down. Not as in "stopped working," but as in "went down there."

Now, just about every week, my duties include calls to Social Security, Catholic Charities, Housing Authority of New Orleans, etc., trying to find her a better place, but today, our relationship got a bit more physical, so to speak.

I spent my day pulling the commode out of the floor, cutting away the rot, setting in a new soil stack, laying out a new subfloor, re-seating the crapper and hooking up a new line to the tank.

So a 90-year-old woman could take a shit in her house.

Look, Mitt. Rick. Newt. Ron. Stop trying to grab po' cred, okay? The only believable thing you can say about how poor people live in America is, "I honestly can't say I can relate, but what I've seen and heard makes me determined to do something."

Saying, "They had funny toilets in France" or "My granddaddy was a miner" or "Some of my patients were broke" doesn't cut any ice 'round here.

If you had any shred of credibility on the issue of how poor people live, how poor people have to live, you'd be saying things like, "There has simply got to be a floor below which we, as Americans, refuse to allow our fellow citizens to fall."

Or their toilets.

But then again, y'all are running for the Republican nomination, so how's that going to help you?

Originally posted to Crashing Vor on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 03:28 PM PST.

Also republished by Income Inequality Kos.

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