The argument, Judis said, “is aimed ultimately at white working class undecided voters who would construe “spreading the wealth” as giving their money to blacks. It’s the latest version of Reagan’s ‘welfare queen’ argument from 1980. It if it works, it won’t be because most white Americans actually oppose a progressive income tax, but because they fear that Obama will inordinately favor blacks over them.”
I perceive the rhetoric the same way. When McCain tells white working class undecided voters that Obama wants to “take your money and give it to someone else,” he doesn’t say who “someone else” is, but he probably hopes he doesn’t have to.
Matt Feeney calls this approach “a bit loony,” insisting that if McCain were really trying to engage in race-based fear mongering, the Republican campaign would “use the word ‘welfare.'”
But that only helps to prove my point — McCain has been using the word “welfare.” He’s used it in his stump speech (Obama, McCain says, wants to turn the IRS into “a giant welfare agency”), and he’s used it in his television ads.
And why would McCain tell white working class undecided voters that Obama’s tax policies constitute “welfare” and “take your money and give it to someone else”? Here’s a wild guess — it has something to do with exploiting racial fears.
Michael Crowley pointed to this exchange from CNN last night between McCain and Larry King:
KING: Concerning spreading the wealth, isn’t the graduated income tax spreading the wealth? If you I and pay more so that ‘Jimmy’ can get some, some for him — or pay for a welfare recipient, that’s spreading the wealth.
MCCAIN: That’s spreading the wealth in the respect that we do have a graduated income tax. That’s a far cry from taking from one group of Americans and giving to another. I mean that’s dramatically different.
Actually, it’s not different at all. McCain’s argument is incoherent.
Put it this way: either McCain is deliberately trying to exploit racial fears or he hasn’t the foggiest idea what he’s talking about. I’m afraid it’s one or the other.