Commentary Magazine


It’s Not Joe, It’s Barack

The lefty bloggers and mainstream ghouls will be looking for dirt on Joe the Plumber. But the issue isn’t Joe, it’s Barack. As James Pethokouis put it:

Barack Obama actually told that Joe the Plumber guy that he wants to “spread the wealth around.” What, did Obama just get done reading the Wikipedia entry on Huey “Share the Wealth” Long or something? Was he somehow channeling that left-wing populist from the Depression? Talk about playing into the most extreme stereotype of your party, that it is infested with socialists.

This, it seems, is the nub of Obama’s problem: he’s been telling everyone he’s a moderate who really respects markets and wants only to return to the glory days of the 1990′s. But if your core philosophy is redistribution above all else – even in a depression — then what are people to make of him? It does, after all, suggest that grabbing money from the “rich” is the highest priority.

In fact, he told Charlie Gibson just that in the Philadelphia primary debate in April. Back then he acknowledged that even if a hike in the capital gains tax rates had a history of bringing in less revenue, he’d be in favor of it because of “fairness.” There he was — spreading the wealth, regardless of the economic consequences.

This is precisely the line of argument McCain needs to pursue: do Americans want to grow the economy out of the recession/depression? Or use this as an opportunity to sock it to the rich? Suddenly, the race card doesn’t look as important as the class warfare card.