It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success too. When you spread the wealth around it helps everybody"
Now, the reason this could be so devastating is that this was a plumber he was talking to. A plumber doesn't fit into the nice box of rich fat cats that will be punished in order to take care of the less fortunate. He is hard working and does a rather unglamorous job. Yet, this particular plumber has done it successfully enough to earn the wrath of Barack Obama. The logical conclusion is that if a plumber can feel the burden of higher taxes, then who is safe from higher taxes under an Obama administration.
Then, there is the larger philosophical point. Obam talks about spreading the wealth through tax policy. That's the sort of philosophy a Socialist would have. Furthermore, using taxes to "spread the wealth" is a form of social engineering . Both the concepts of Socialism and social engineering can be used as part of a devastating attack if they are framed correctly.
Telling a plumber that he will take his success so that wealth will be "spread around" is not exactly the image that Barack Obama has set of only taking from those that are very wealthy. It is exactly the sort of gaffe that could be a game changer. Now, if the MSM were doing its job, they would be playing this exchange and analyzing it as part of their normal rotation. After all, Barack Obama has portrayed an image that only fat cats will be hurt by his tax proposal and here is an ordinary citizen that is concerned that his tax proposal will hurt them. Of course, I live in reality not some media utopia.
Still, that doesn't preclude the McCain campaign from jumping all over this comment and making it an issue in advertisements, stump speeches, and most importantly, the last debate. Given the ineptitude of the McCain campaign over the last three weeks, supporters shouldn't be optimistic.
Still, if the McCain campaign has any political acumen left, he will have an ad up by the end of the day. Here is how I would do it.
When a hardworking plumber, concerned about Barack Obama's tax plan, asked him why he was going to raise his taxes here is how Barack Obama responded.
(Cut to the video clip of Obama saying this)
I don't want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everyone that is behind you. They have a chance for success too.
Taxing small business owners, like this plumber, more to spread the wealth around. If millions of small business owners pay more taxes, they'll have less money to hire employees, pay their current ones, and invest in new capital equipment. They'll have to charge their customers more for their goods and services. How will that spread the wealth around?
Barack Obama not read to lead.
(John McCain voice over)
I'm John McCain and I approved this message.
The real key is for McCain to make an issue of this at the debate. There will no doubt be a question about taxes. Furthermore, there is no doubt that Obama will again say that his tax proposal will cut taxes for 95% of the people. As soon as he does this, here is how McCain should respond.
Folks, my opponent said the most remarkable thing the other day. A plumber was concerned that he would see his taxes go up under an Obama Presidency. Senator Obama responded by saying "I don't want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everyone that's behind you has a chance at success too. When you spread the wealth around it helps everybody. Now, here is where my opponent and I have a fundamental disagreement in philosophy. I see taxes as a necessary evil that are needed to keep the government functioning. For me, the goal is to lower taxes as much as possible for as many people as possible. To do this, we need to make government run more efficiently. We need to cut government waste. That's what I have been battling for in Washington for nearly thirty years. My opponent, on the other hand, has requested nearly one million Dollars in earmarks per day he has been in the Senate. That's because he sees spending and taxes not as a necessary evil but as a tool of social engineering. Don't believe me. That's exactly what he told the plumber who's taxes he promised to raise so that he could spread that many around to the less fortunate. We can't afford a President who's entire tax policy consists of taking from one group in order to give to another group. That's not a road to economic prosperity that's a road to social engineering. We need a President that's dedicated to making government more efficient, so that it spends less, and taxes EVERYBODY less. That's what I have been dedicated to for my whole political career. Taxes are not a tool of social engineering, that's how Senator Obama sees them. Our country is not some social experiment, so please folks, don't allow him to treat it as one.
This has a chance to become the sort of gaffe that McCain needs, and now the ball is in his court to use it.