No.

Or rather, it was politics as usual the next morning. And by
necessity, both campaigns are warring over their versions of fixing the
economy. Media coverage is fixed on the candidates’ answers in
Wednesday night’s debate about what they plan to do on spending and
budget cutting.

McCain is staying on his message that Obama’s plan means confiscatory taxes.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain on
Saturday accused Democratic rival Barack Obama of favoring a
socialistic economic approach by supporting tax cuts and tax credits
McCain says would merely shuffle wealth rather than creating it.

“At least in Europe, the Socialist leaders who so admire my opponent
are upfront about their objectives,” McCain said in a radio address.
“They use real numbers and honest language. And we should demand equal
candor from Sen. Obama. Raising taxes on some in order to give checks
to others is not a tax cut; it’s just another government giveaway.”

But Obama is sticking with his message.

Obama has said his tax policies would cut payments for
95 percent of working Americans, while increasing them only for
families making more than $250,000 a year. McCain has argued that 40
percent of Americans don’t pay income taxes, either because they are
seniors or don’t meet minimum earnings thresholds, so the only way to
cut their taxes is to give them various credits.

“In other words, Barack Obama’s tax plan would convert the IRS into
a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the
direction of politicians in Washington,” McCain said in the radio
address.

This message is resonating with mainstream Americans, who are
practically foreign to mainstream media. The reason Joe the Plumber has
become an instant overnight star (he shuns the very idea, and hopes his
celebrity flames out fast) is because he is Everyman in Middle America
and (as some of these media do recognize) emblematic of the economic
angst at this key moment in politics.

At a McCain rally this morning in North Carolina, there were many
signs reflecting that the collective common man has a new face. “I’M
Joe the plumber” read one sign. “Obama WILL take Joe’s taxes”, read
another. In the middle of his rousing talk to this crowd, McCain
brought up the debate…..both the televised and the ongoing one, and he
said this:

The real winner was Joe the plumber because he’s the only one who got a real answer out of Obama.

Okay, political jabs are going around on both sides. Plenty of them.

Obama and Biden are making the most they can of Joe’s presence in
the campaign, themselves. Obama told a crowd, and Biden told the press,
(casting at least some aspersions on the guy) that they don’t know of
any plumber making $250,000. It may get the crowd going, but it doesn’t
get to what Joe told Obama in the first place, in that now fateful
encounter in his neighborhood on Obama’s swing through Ohio.

Joe said he hopes to eventually buy the small plumbing business
where he works, told the candidate roughly what that business was
worth, and asked if he would take more taxes from him. Obama may not
have listened well, but the people did. They heard the question, and
the answer that he wanted to spread the wealth. That’s the central
topic of the weekend, at least so far…

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....