There is just about a week and a half until Election Day and for the past week the pundits have been claiming the race is over. As John McCain says, Obama is “measuring the drapes.” We may not have photos of Mrs. Obama thumbing through fabric samples to validate McCain’s claim, but we do know that Obama is planning quite an election night celebration. But Obama, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid may be getting a little ahead of themselves. Before the economy took the front page, McCain was winning this race, but his campaign has made enough mistakes to make any Republican blush. The most effective attacks on Obama seem to be the ones that come from elsewhere. And now, with less than two weeks to go, Obama is facing challenges from two unlikely sources. And they’re both named Joe.
The emergence of Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher has given McCain a way to reconnect with populists and Reagan Democrats. McCain is finally making the case that Obama’s tax plan will not just tax the top five percent of the population, as he claims. The revealing Robin Hood-esque clip of Obama, telling Joe we should “spread the wealth around” has been played over and over on cable news. That clip is now starring in a McCain ad called “I’m Joe the Plumber,” which highlights small business owners. McCain is currently on a “Joe the Plumber bus tour” in Florida. Despite the fact that Joe Wurzelbacher is a private citizen who never asked to become a star in the campaign, McCain’s strategy here is working. It is raising doubt about Obama’s ability to deal with the current economic climate because spreading the wealth around is not an American ideal. Reagan already defeated communism, now McCain just needs to defeat Obama.
The small business owner, given a face by Joe, is the backbone of the American economy. Obama and Biden reacted to the Joe flap by patronizingly joking that they don’t know many plumbers who make over $250,000 a year, but the reality is this bracket contains more than half of the small businesses in America. Obama’s tax message is that he isn’t going to tax you, he is just going to tax them. But many Americans are seeing the Joe the Plumber clip and thinking that he looks a lot more like them, and a lot less like a corporate type. So Obama can quip that McCain really represents “Joe the CEO,” not Joe the Plumber, but that won’t erase the image of Joe Wurzelbacher.
The other “Joe” criticism of Obama comes from an even more unlikely source: Joe Biden. As a conservative, I’m getting a little tired of hearing liberals call Sarah Palin an idiot when their own VP pick is the one making the biggest gaffes of the season. (When did we kick Hezbollah out of Lebanon again, Senator?) At a fundraiser last weekend, Biden gave a dire warning about what would happen if Obama were elected, throwing national security back into the spotlight and making himself and his running mate look utterly pathetic. Biden said that because Obama is so young and inexperienced, our enemies will test him with a national security crisis. He further went on to say that Obama’s reaction would probably seem like the wrong reaction, and he urged supporters to join with them in gaining back the approval of the American people. I can’t imagine what Biden was thinking. He did throw in some lame line about how we will find out that Obama has steel in his bones, but the overall statement raises a fundamental question about Obama’s ability to act as Commander-in-Chief. We all know Biden previously said Obama was not ready, and the presidency was no place for “on-the-job training,” but this comment goes even further. He says Obama’s election will cause a crisis, and further says Obama will react in a way that Americans will not support. Obama must be wishing he had reconsidered Hillary. National Security is the last place Obama wants to take this election, and his own running mate is taking him there in the worst possible way.
The polls show Obama has a fairly significant lead, and if McCain loses, he will have his own campaign to blame. Obama is such a fundamentally unelectable candidate that it is astonishing he could be doing so well so close to Election Day. McCain has been given a few gifts this week. Louis Farrakhan (the last person Obama wants an endorsement from) called Obama “the Messiah.” This doesn’t sit well with any American who is remotely religious. Pennsylvania is coming back into play, partially due to Rep. Jack Murtha calling Pennsylvanians “racists,” and then clarifying that he really meant to call them “rednecks.” Joe the Plumber from Ohio has given McCain something tangible to point to when he talks about how flawed and socialistic Obama’s tax policy is. Then, in a moment of unbelievable stupidity, Joe Biden gave such a dire prediction of an Obama presidency that you would have thought you were listening to Sean Hannity. This race is close, and it is not over yet. Obama is the most liberal candidate we have ever seen, and he is only doing so well because of the economic crisis. McCain’s campaign has been given a few opportunities this week, and now they just need to wake up and grab onto them before it’s too late.