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Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Slate's John Dickerson sees the same thing that I do:
The minute McCain took the stage at a high-school gymnasium in Dayton, he unspooled the chain of nightmares Obama would unleash after the inauguration. McCain heralded "Joe the Plumber," as he has for the last two weeks, to make the case that Obama's tax policies are aimed at redistributing wealth. He also pointed to a 2001 interview in which (so the McCain campaign says) Obama claimed one of the tragedies of the civil rights era was that it failed to redistribute wealth. "That is what change means for Barack the Redistributor," he told a crowd of about 2,000, which didn't fill the gym. "It means taking your money and giving it to someone else."

But he notes that the scary words are hitting a stiff wind:
One reason his attacks are not effective is that Obama's remarks are simply not very subversive. Reading them in context, and trying to keep from napping, it's clear that when Obama talks about redistribution, he's not talking about taxing the rich to give handouts—as McCain would have us think. Obama's talking about the Supreme Court's reluctance to force school districts to spend money to provide equality in schools. Later in the same interview, when Obama again discusses redistribution, he also talks about the complexities of school funding after Brown v. Board of Education.

With so little time left, McCain needs clear and effective critiques. So far, his tax attacks have been ineffective. Polls show that, over the last month, voters nationally and in key states like Virginia have come to trust Obama more on the question of taxes. Making hay of a seven-year-old quote about the civil rights struggles of a previous generation is not going to change the dynamic.

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