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
- Why you should stop believing in evolution
- How Israel's hawks intimidated and silenced the last remnants of the anti-war left
- The real lesson of Rick Perry's mug shot
- Welcome to the age of ambivalent feminism
- The secret to handling pressure like astronauts, Navy SEALs, and samurai
- Why China thinks it could defeat the U.S. in battle
- What the 'death of the library' means for the future of books
- How Republicans could win back Silicon Valley
- What you need to know before you support the police in Ferguson
- The Catholic case for military strikes in Iraq
Subscribe to the Week