In the closing two weeks McCain and Palin have seized upon the “spreading the wealth” statement to warn darkly of socialism arriving with an Obama administration.
But it can be a complicated argument in this topsy-turvy year of financial collapse, when the government, from the Republican president on down, has seemed to be in the giveaway business and the wealth-spreading business an awful lot of late.
There have been taxpayer-financed bailouts of individual businesses and broader interventions like the $700 billion bailout of the financial system — which both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama supported — not to mention the Bush administration’s move to buy a $250 billion stake in the nation’s banks. In the wake of the financial crisis, everyone seems to like some state-directed form of wealth redistribution, including Mr. McCain, who wants to use taxpayer money to buy distressed mortgages and sell them back to homeowners at more affordable rates.
If this is the best campaign closer the Republicans have, I’m not sure it’s going to be that effective. Once George Bush essentially nationalized the nine largest banks in the country, the word “socialism” is not a great cudgel against the Democrats.