Posted by Joe Klein
John McCain had a fabulously loony weekend, flipping out charges and attacks like a mud tornado. The truly remarkable thing about McCain's attacks, especially on Obama's economic policies, is that McCain, in each case, is "guilty" of supporting some version of the policies he's attacking:
1. He attacks Obama for increasing "welfare" by providing refundable tax credits--that is giving people the cash equivalent if they don't pay enough in income taxes to reap the full benefit of the credit--but McCain's own $5000 health insurance credit is also refundable.
2. He attacks Obama for spreading "socialism," but McCain supported the bailout that enabled the Bush Administration to partially nationalize the banking system last week. If that ain't a (very mild) form of socialism, I don't know what is.
3. He attacks Obama's tax plan as a form of "spreading the wealth"--the words Obama used when talking to Joe the Unlicensed Tax Dodger in Ohio--because Obama would reduce taxes on the middle class and pay for it by restoring Clinton-era marginal tax rates on the wealthy. And yet, McCain proudly voted for a major tax hike and wealth redistribution scheme in his early days in his early days in Congress. In fact he touts it regularly, including on Fox News Sunday, as bipartisan cooperation at its finest:
Ronald Reagan's agenda was very different from that of Tip O'Neill's. Yet Ronald Reagan and Tip O'NEILL sat down together across the table and sat down and worked out a way to save Social Security for quite a period of time.
In fact, that was an enormous--and necessary--tax increase, but it tilted heavily against working Americans. Payroll taxes have been increased no fewer than seven times since Reagan was President and, so far as I know, never been cut--but large capital gains and marginal rate cuts, and all sorts of corporate loopholes, have been built into the tax system during that same period--a massive redistribution of wealth toward the wealthy.
Finally, McCain had this exchange about his campaign's skeevy robo-calls this weekend on Fox:
WALLACE: ... and you said the following [after the South Carolina primary campaign in 2000], "I promise you, I have never and will never have anything to do with that kind of political tactic."
Now you've hired the same guy who did the robo calls against you to — reportedly, to do the robo calls against Obama and the Republican Senator Susan Collins, the co-chair of your campaign in Maine, has asked you to stop the robo calls. Will you do that?
MCCAIN: Of course not. These are legitimate and truthful, and they are far different than the phone calls that were made about my family and about certain aspects that — things that this is — this is dramatically different, and either you haven't — didn't see those things
Legitimate and truthful? I supposed that's why Susan Collins, one of McCain's closest friends in the Senate, criticized him for this trashball tactic. Oh, and the "same guy" Wallace was referring to is none other than Warren Tompkins, whose name was a synonym for satan among the McCain inner circle in 2000. I can imagine John breaking the news to Cindy, "Hey, honey, great news! Remember that guy who was involved in spreading the rumors about your addiction to pain killers and Bridget being an illegitimate interracial child? Well, we've got him doing that same sort of high-minded stuff for us!"