With Republicans nationalizing parts of the nation's biggest banks, said Nina Easton in Fortune online, John McCain can't really brand Barack Obama as a "Big Government Liberal." But Joe the Plumber might be able to pull it off. After McCain mentioned Joe Wurzelbacher repeatedly in the final presidential debate, the real-life handyman's objection to Obama's proposal to raise taxes on people making more than $250,000 became the talk of the campaign.
Joe doesn't really lay a glove on Obama, said Marc Ambinder in The Atlantic online. If you look at the video (click for an AP clip via YouTube) of his exchange with the Democratic presidential nominee on the trail in Ohio, you'll see that Obama's statment about wanting to "spread the wealth" is merely an endorsement of our "progressive income tax"—not some secret socialist longing.
It's true that Obama's "appeal for higher taxes to 'spread the wealth around'" is nothing new, said Scott W. Johnson in The Christian Science Monitor. But that's only because throughout the nation's history we've had to battle against "unjust taxes." In that sense, Obama's tax plan isn't much of a change, and it's certainly "more to be worried about than hoped for."
McCain might end up regretting making Joe the Plumber his poster boy, said Jonathan Chait in The New Republic online. In an interview with CBS News anchor Katie Couric, Wurzelbacher admitted that he doesn't even make $250,000, so his taxes wouldn't go up under Obama's plan. So Joe simply made up "the one fact that gave his story any political salience." Game, Obama.
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Here comes the Pentagon's newest space plane
- 10 things you need to know today: October 25, 2014
- Let us now praise Billy Joel
- 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Extreme haunted houses: Inside Halloween's most terrifying new trend
- Why the government should pay every American child an allowance
- How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy
- 6 things the happiest families all have in common
Subscribe to the Week