WASHINGTON (Fortune) — John McCain has tried to paint his Democratic opponent as a big-spending, big-taxing liberal.
How do you condemn Obama as a Big-Government Liberal when your fellow Republicans in the White House are busily nationalizing portions of the country’s biggest banks, bailing out the world’s largest insurer, taking over semi-private mortgage securities firms – and, along the way, putting several hundred billion dollars in taxpayer money at risk? When your own plan, borrowed from Hillary Clinton, commands the Treasury Department to spend $300 billion to buy up home mortgages from people who can’t make their payments?
So in Wednesday’s debate, McCain shifted tactics to accuse Obama of being one of those liberals eager to take your hard-earned wealth and redistribute it to those less hard working or less fortunate. And that’s when we got to meet Joe the Plumber, whose name came up 26 times in the course of 90 minutes.