The latest round of polls from the very reliable Strategic Survey shows John McCain ahead of Barack Obama in Ohio and Florida, but behind by seven points in Pennsylvania. McCain is likely to lose formerly red states Iowa and New Mexico, may pick up New Hampshire, and is battling for Colorado to the finish. With ten days left and the markets continuing their extraordinary volatility, voters' stomachs are churning and the country is at a decisive crossroads. Obama represents a huge, very sharp turn left. Will the voters reconsider, especially the "racist rednecks" of Pennsylvania?
Democratic icon Congressman Jack Murtha first smeared western Pennsylvania as "racist" last week, and then apologized and downgraded the land to merely "redneck." Obama's famous categorization of Keystone State voters as "bitter" and "clinging to guns and God" hasn't been forgotten either, or the fact that is was delivered to his San Francisco pals. This is Steelers country, and straight-ahead football fans don't much appreciate either the trash talk or the duplicity of saying one thing behind closed doors and another when visiting the state. (But do be sure to send any PA voter you know a link to "Redneck Date" as a reminder of the Obama/Murtha view of their culture!)
As a lifelong Browns fan from northeastern Ohio --seven miles from Sharon, PA-- I can say with confidence that there is no worse football enemy than a Steelers fan. They don't forget anything, and there's a lot a Browns fan would like to forget from the last quarter-century of Browns-Steelers match-ups.
They aren't going to forget the contempt in which they are held by Democratic Party elites on both coasts. So the door is open to John McCain.
And Joe the Plumber is helping the old aviator through it.
Joe's probably a Browns fan, but his suspicion of Obama's "spread the wealth" philosophy is deeply rooted in the industrial Midwest. When people work as hard as they do in Ohio and Pennsylvania only to be told that success has to be penalized in order to ship wealth to those who haven't been working, well, that's not a winning pitch. The migration of jobs from the industrial areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania and of course Michigan has been real, has gone on for 30 years, and has been difficult to watch must less live through.
But the resiliency of the region is extraordinary, and the rebirths of the cities of Cleveland and Pittsburgh marvelous. Eventually the high-tech community is going to figure out that industrial infrastructure and very inexpensive but excellent housing and a wonderful quality of life (with snow) is to be had on the north coast, and like Google's "snazzy new digs" in Ann Arbor , other companies will take advantage of the opportunities in the region.
Provided, that is, that there is economic growth generally, and that capital is available for expansion and innovation. A stagnant or declining economy won't allow the vast engines of economic renewal to continue the amazing growth that has marked America since Reagan's tax cuts of 1981.
This is McCain's closing argument, in PA and throughout all the battleground states: The American economy is a behemoth of progress, an extraordinary engine of progress and prosperity if it is left to work its magic. The confiscatory taxes and trade barriers pushed by Barack Obama are economy killers --and there is no doubt about this! The record of a quarter century tells us that economic growth cannot be taxed into existence, and that "spreading the wealth" decreases sharply the amount of wealth available to spread.
We are in a recession. A McCain victory means a short and shallow recession. An Obama win means a long and perhaps deep decline in economic activity.
If your retirement plan has plummeted and you want your money back.
If you suspect your home is worth less than it was in September and you want the old value back.
If you wonder what careers will be open to your children and your grandchildren, and whether the country's military and national government will work to keep those children and grandchildren safe, and you want assurances on both counts.
The you have to vote for John McCain.