Last night Stephen Colbert quite cleverly invited the actualSocialist candidate for President ontohis show, to give him the opportunity to state the blindinglyobvious: Obama’s no Socialist. (Added bonus was hearing a real, actualsocialist explain his philosophy on national television. That doesn’thappen very often)

The McCainFoxDrudge campaign’s decision to focus the last few weeks ofthe election on the combined spectre of redistribution and socialism(not, it should be noted, the same thing) is, I think, really dumb.

First, it’s not working. A new WallStreet Journal poll shows likely voters favor Obama over McCain ontax policy by 14 points. Part of that is no doubt due to Obama’s nearobsessive focus on hammering home his proposal for middle class taxcuts, but it also seems entirely possible that a broad majority ofAmericans think that “spreading the wealth” isn’t such a bad idea rightabout now.

Second, they’re creating a mandate that Obama didn’t formerly have. David Sirota put it this way:

[W]hile Obama has offered up a progressive-though-moderateagenda slightly to the left of Clinton-ish neoliberalism, McCain hasgone totally ideological. In doing that, he has polarized the argumentand turned the election into a referendum on the economic Darwinism ofthe conservative movement – a Darwinism that, as my column shows, hasbuilt a machine that confiscates middle-class wealth and sends it up the income ladder.

And Marc Ambinder recently noticed the same thing:

…it might be dangerous for the Republican Party to elevate the stakes for this election to a death match between competing ideologies. If Barack Obama’s victory is as decisive as it is shaping up to be, the Democrats can justifiably claim that conservatism itself has been rejected as a political and governing philosophy. In the closing weeks of the campaign, as the Republican ticket continues to run against the very idea of progressive politics, they are sowing the seeds of the post-election realignment narrative.

I think this is exactly right, and not just because I think it’stransparently moronic to argue that the difference between Capitalismand Socialism is the difference between a 35 percent top marginal tax rate and a 39.5 percent one. Obama himself, while he does weave in an ideological story into his main narrative, he tends, instead to offer himself as post-ideological and pragmatic. The Right, meanwhile, has turned this election into a referendum on Socialism.

And they’re going to lose. Amazing.