I was initially skeptical about John Judis's suggestion that McCain's fixation with Obama's "spread the wealth" comment is really a dog-whistle message about race--i.e. an implication that Obama wants to take money from white America and give it to blacks. But McCain's appearance on Larry King tonight has me thinking again. Check out this very weird exchange, which begins with King finally (if clumsily) asking the obvious question about this line of attack:

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. I mean Senator Obama has clearly talked about for years redistributive policices. And that’s not the way we create wealth in America. [emphasis added]

Taking from one group and giving to another? In some "dramatically different" way from graduated income taxation? What on earth is McCain talking about?

This is either complete nonsense--or else Judis is right: It's a vile insinuation.

--Michael Crowley