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Clarification Of The Day

Responding to John and Noam's suggestion that McCain's "spreading the wealth" closing argument is meant to conjure the idea that Obama will take money from white people and give it to black people, Matt Feeney wrote:

I still think that Judis and Scheiber have gone a bit loony on this one. Why? Because McCain isn’t using the word “welfare.” “Spread the wealth” and “socialism” simply aren’t “welfare.” They muster literally none of its deep associations, not because the tropes don’t share substantive features, but because “socialism” and “spreading the wealth” haven’t been part of the old discourse of, well, welfare. I’ll even stipulate something that Judis and Scheiber seem to take for granted, that GOP crowds are teeming with people itching to discharge some tribal animus, to locate an Other and marginalize it, but that still doesn’t get us anywhere near the scenario they’re envisioning. It leaves us only with a revved up crowd that, upon hearing these supposedly loaded terms, are left scratching their heads and saying, “‘Socialism’? ‘Spreading the wealth’? My reptilian Republican brain tells me that these are code words, especially because Senator McCain keeps using them so insistently and clumsily, but I can’t figure out what they’re supposed to be code words for.”

Ask, and ye shall receive:


Update: Ross Douthat allows that this "makes John Judis's 'race and Joe the Plumber' argument seem at least slightly more tethered to plausibility." Slightly?

--Christopher Orr