Salena Zito

Share the wealth.

Those three words should send shudders down the spine of any hardworking, over-taxed, get-government-out-of-my-pocketbook American.

Yet the image and rhetoric of Barack Obama has buried his progressive government-knows-best philosophy.

Obama’s eloquence and his propensity to rarely make a mistake have made him the candidate that more Americans trust with the economy, according to many opinion polls.

Allan Meltzer, an economist at Carnegie Mellon University, says that when it comes to the economy, the other guy is better for the country.

Meltzer says John McCain “has a better health plan in several respects. It promotes competition, provides choice, and avoids nationalizing health care.”

On taxes, he says, McCain’s plan to reduce corporate tax rates is a much-needed reform. “That's much better than pumping up spending for a few quarters by giving away $1,000 per taxpayer,” he explains.

McCain’s plans are responsible populism, a good fit across party lines, especially during unsettling economic times. Too bad no one is picking up what he is putting down.

This country is generally an optimistic nation. People want to move up the economic ladder. That’s been an American credo since our creation, and anything that sounds as if it will stifle America’s entrepreneurial spirit runs contrary to who we are.

So it stands to reason that it is truly extraordinary that voters would consider Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress as the best team to fix today’s economic crisis -- because, the fact is, they created it.

Columnist Orson Scott Card, himself a Democrat, put it in perspective last week when he wrote that the financial crisis was completely preventable. Card pointed out that congressional Democrats blocked any attempt to prevent it; when House Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the Bush administration and congressional Republicans of enacting financial deregulation that caused the crisis, no one in the media called her on that lie, Card complained.

Absent in the daily-news narrative is that, as a senator, McCain tried to avert this mess and to get others in Congress to regulate lending responsibly.

Once again, the McCain message is buried, either by the daily political sideshows or by the brilliant way Obama’s campaign has “flooded the zone” with its message: A vote for McCain is a vote for four more years of failed Bush policies.

Some of the blame goes to McCain, too; he has been ineffective on the national stage at explaining his plan.

Salena Zito

Salena Zito is a political analyst, reporter and columnist.