No. Really. You're kidding me. 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.
A while back I chatted with a University of Chicago professor who was a frequent lunch companion of Obama's. This professor said that Obama was as close to a full-out Marxist as anyone who has ever run for president of the United States. Now, I tend to quickly dismiss that kind of talk as way over the top. My working assumption is that Obama is firmly within the mainstream of Democratic politics. But if he is as free with that sort of redistributive philosophy in private as he was on the campaign trail this week, I have no doubt that U of C professor really does figure him as a radical. And after last night's debate, a few more Americans might think that way, too. McCain's best line: "Now, of all times in America, we need to cut people's taxes. We need to encourage business, create jobs, not spread the wealth around."
And by the way, I just noticed that the IBD/TIPP poll, the most accurate in 2004, has McCain down by just 3 points. If the contest is perceived by the voters as a contest between a wealth redistributor and a wealth creator, then it could be a long night come Nov. 4. This is still a center-right country, gang. Note this Gallup poll from June:
When given a choice about how government should address the numerous economic difficulties facing today's consumer, Americans overwhelmingly—by 84% to 13%—prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.
There you go.