Friday, October 17, 2008

Joe the Plumber Becomes Collateral Damage


Obama talks with Joe Wurzelbacher, who should not have had any reason to fear that his life was about to change.
(Photo: Jae C. Hong / AP)

The snap judgment about Wednesday night's Presidential debate, according to headlines all over the Internets, was that "the big winner of the debate was Joe the Plumber." The line brought a smile to my face, and I daydreamed about how he could build a marketing campaign around it.

Not so fast.

HOLLAND, Ohio — Joe the Plumber's story sprang a few leaks Thursday.

Turns out that the man who was held up by John McCain as the typical, hard-working American taxpayer isn't really a licensed plumber. And court documents show he owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes.

"Joe," whose name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher...
The implication here is, this guy lied about being a plumber, he's a tax cheat, and his name isn't even Joe. I'll be damned before I'll post any links to the left-wing fever swamps (or the right-wing fever swamps, for that matter), but if you search for a bit you'll find all of these allegations and more, stated explicitly. The reality, of course, is much more nuanced, and you can find those details elsewhere.

My point here is that this feeding frenzy is the blogospheric equivalent of a rapist's defense attorney grilling the victim about her sex life on the stand.

An unidentified emailer on The Corner summed it up better than I can:
That said, the way the pro-Obama media and bloggers, and Obama himself, have responded to Joe has got me nearly shaking with rage. They are attempting to destroy a man — a private citizen — who had the audacity to ask The One a question. Mind you, Joe was on his front lawn playing football with his son when Obama strolled up to give him his hopenchange spiel. Obama approached Joe, not the other way around. And Joe asked Obama an honest question. And Obama gave him an honest — and very, very revealing — answer. Again, mind you, the embarassment was on Obama's end, not Joe's. It wasn't a gotcha question.

And yet, for that Joe is being pilloried, every aspect of his private and professional life being sorted through and exposed.
It wasn't a gotcha question, but to be clear, it certainly was a challenging question. It was the kind of question an ordinary citizen might ask if he's trying to decide which candidate to support. It was the kind of question candidates ought to hear. If McCain had strolled up to Wurzelbacher's front lawn, Joe might have asked, "is Sarah Palin really ready on Day One to be a heartbeat away from the Presidency while we're fighting two wars?"

Through absolutely no fault of his own, "Joe the Plumber" was mentioned 11 times during the debate (if I remember correctly from something I surfed past and can't find right now). And what was the result?
Reporters camped out by his house overnight and by midmorning there were 21 people on his driveway surrounding him, holding cameras and notebooks.
Thought experiment: Is there any aspect of your life that you would prefer not to have to explain and defend to reporters on your driveway? Yes, I'm talking about that incident... that one, right there. [Me? I've got a whole menu of choices.]

Because of that incident, you know better than to run for President -- or, if you're running for President, you've had plenty of time to think about how to explain away that incident.

But it turns out that if you truly want to safeguard yourself and your family, you'd better not have the audacity to question The One.

Update from the Comments: SuDoNum said [in response to another commenter]... I am a small government, low tax, personal freedom/responsibility conservative. What this administration has done in the last 7 years is a travesty. Torturing US Citizens? You condone that under any circumstances? BS, I don't care what crime you have or may have committed, if you are a US citizen you are entitled to all the rights provided under the Constitution.

It's pointless to debate you. Arguing over the internet is an exercise in futility. My advice to you and all "conservatives" is quit making excuses for the impending avalanche. We are reaping what we sowed.

Chris said... Obama's "spread the wealth around" slip still stands. Although Obama's fans in the media and on forums worldwide tried to bury it with "Joe's not a plumber and he doesn't pay his taxes" tabloid fodder, that one comment keeps popping up, haunting the biggest socialist to have a good chance at the White House since FDR....

We already have too much socialism in our system. We don't deserve to "reap" more, regardless of anything the current administration has done.

9 comments:

  1. I'm glad you noticed this too. Obama's fanbase did more digging into Joe than they ever did (or would ever consider doing) to Barack. They even found a tax bill he didn't know about. But they glossed right over Obama's revealing answer. How telling.

    And now every citizen is sufficiently intimidated into never asking a legitimate question of The Media's chosen candidate, whoever that may be. Do not question the Dear Leader. It is for your own good.

    If Obama is elected, will we have portraits of him on walls all over the cities, as we've seen with Mao, Kim Jong Il, and Saddam Hussein in their countries? Oops, did I just say "Hussein"? I guess I better get ready for that audit...

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  2. This isn't China or North Korea. I think any Obama pictures will be displayed voluntarily, enforced "only" by peer pressure.

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  3. No, this isn't China or NK... yet. But between the media's scrutiny of Joe Wurzlebacher and the Obama campaign's own use of law enforcement (Missouri DA's office, requests for U.S. A.G.'s office to investigate GOP) to stifle criticism, we are headed there. If Obama gets elected, I worry that he and his supporters will make the Clintons look like pansies. And if we get a Democrat supermajority...

    I've been thinking about writing of Amanda's experiences with living in (and leaving) a communist country on my Livejournal page, or starting a blog on RightNation. It would be an eye-opener for many.

    And the peer pressure is bad enough. Obama supporters can put stickers on their cars supporting their candidate without worry, but I don't dare put a McCain-Palin sticker on my cars because they will get vandalized. Especially the XJ!

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  4. Chris, I live in a part of the country where the opposite is true. If I were to put an Obama sticker on my car it would get trashed if I put it on any of my cars,the 750Li, the Escalade, or the 'Vette.

    As to your worry about the Justice Department being "politicized" where the hell have you been the last 7 years? Not to mention the fact that according to the powers this president has appropriated for himself, he could name ANYONE, even "That One" as an enemy combatant and have them shipped off to Gitmo. Is it politically possible? Not hardly. But according to this administrations interpretation of the Constitution, he sure could do it legally. That sounds a lot more like China or NK then anything Clinton did.

    As to "Joe the Plumber" and the s**t storm he's enduring, for him to ask it, it was indeed a "gotcha" question. As later reports have documented, the business neither makes $250k, nor is he, as an unlicensed plumber, able to operate it if he were to buy it. Do I feel bad for the guy? Absolutely. However McCain should have done some more homework before making Joe the centerpiece of his attack on Obama's tax plan. Like maybe even contacting Joe and asking him if he had a problem with it. If McCain did do that, and Joe didn't think twice, then he deserves everything he got.

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  5. There were a couple of Obama stickers and an anti-Bush sticker on my 1996 Chevy Geo when my wife bought it for me from her boss a few weeks ago. (The 1992 Mazda 626, which she had purchased new, had needed repairs one too many times. It was time for a "new" car.)

    She drives a 1999 Honda Civic that used to belong to her brother. (Hi Chris!) Eventually we aspire to own a car that was made in this century.

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  6. I think it is important to realize that Joe The Plumber was held up by the REPUBLICAN candidate as some sort of idealized struggling everyman during the debate. I have a word for you Senator McCain - its VET.

    We then watch as Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher did not attempt to avoid the media over the following few days - he showed up on the news being interviewed by a reporter and has now supposedly hired a lawyer to shop a book deal. Really, why the outrage? He has chased the limelight and it has come back to haunt him. Bemoaning the fact that the Corporate Media has done actual journalism and uncovered some uncomfortable truths about him, and that some left leaning blogs have reported that actual journalism in order to discredit him, is more than a little disingenuous.

    The tragedy in all this Joe the Plumber nonsense is that conservatives are blaming liberals for this guy's faults. There was no real digging into this guy's past - it took 48 hours for these Joe the Plumber facts to be uncovered. Moreover, Senator Obama has been on the campaign trail for almost 2 years. Listening to conservatives drone on about not knowing the real Obama is sad and absurd.

    Chris the Commenter's image of 1984 style posters adorning public spaces during an Obama presidency is especially ironic. Where were you during the last 7 and a half years of the Bush "BIG BROTHER" Doctrine that espoused lies, secrecy and doublespeak on everything from Iraq, the politization of the DOJ as well as rendition and torture? If you have been living in a cave, do yourself a favor and walk out into the light - it will feel good after the Gollum-like years of solitude during the Bush Era.

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  7. sudonum and anonymous, do your memories only go back 7 years? Do you not remember previous presidents (or first ladies, for that matter) using their political power for intimidation of or retaliation against personal or political enemies? Do you not remember Hillary Clinton convening a "war room" to destroy every woman that came out with new allegations against her husband? Or how critics of the Clinton administration were subject to IRS audits every year of their administration? Did you not study about how FDR treated the U.S. Supreme Court? And the DOJ was never politicized before Bush? Have you already forgotten Janet Reno?

    Bush could name anyone, even "That One" as an enemy combatant and have them thrown in Gitmo? Really? Gee, you would think he would've taken advantage of that, instead of wasting it on people caught on the battlefield and providing them with three Allah-approved squares a day and all the ACLU lawyers they could fool.

    anonymous: No, I haven't been living in a cave. I haven't been getting my political views from crappy Hollywood movies either. In fact, I've probably been "politically aware" from an earlier age than anyone posting or reading this blog (Sorry Kirk, but that may even include you.). The suggestion that I've been living in a cave because I don't share the same paranoid "Big Brother" views you live by is insulting, and tells me you're already running out of legitimate argument. (Bush posters? Where?)

    Nobody is blaming liberals for Joe Wurzelbacher's imperfections. What liberals are getting blamed for is using Joe's imperfections as an excuse to dismiss his perfectly legitimate question of a candidate. A question that caused Obama to slip up and reveal his true views. Work harder, and your rewards will be confiscated and given to those who didn't work as hard. Oh yeah, that's "new". If that's what you want, there are already several countries currently using this system, including the one my girlfriend left.

    So claiming that voters don't know the "true Obama" is sad, but believing Obama's campaign promises by willfully ignoring his record isn't? Scrutinizing the life of a man because he asked a question of a candidate, using the excuse that he needed to be vetted, that isn't a pathetic attempt to draw attention from his valid question?

    Yes, it took only 48 hours for Joe's life to be laid open to everyone with an internet connection or a television. AND YOU COMPLAIN ABOUT BUSH'S "BIG BROTHER DOCTRINE"?!?

    That 48 hours was a few days before his first appearance on tv, Huckabee's show. Have you seen him on tv? The first time I watched Hannity & Colmes in years was to see this Joe Wurzelbacher guy. And you know what? That plumber (sorry, unlicensed plumber) made Colmes look bad. If only Biden could be trusted to speak with such clarity.

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  8. Chris,
    My memory goes way back past the last 7 years, all the way to the Nixon White House. Nixon was a piker compared to W. The excesses of the executive office have been so profound in the last 7 years that anything that occurred in previous administrations seems like "abuse of power lite".

    As to the Clinton "abuses", so because the Clinton's attacked the people that were attacking them, using the same tactics, it was an abuse of power? How much time and money was wasted with Whitewater and Travelgate and nothing was found? Look, I hate the Clinton's as much as anyone, but I refuse to buy into the BS attacks from the fringe of the far right.

    I am a small government, low tax, personal freedom/responsibilty conservative. What this administration has done in the last 7 years is a travesty. Torturing US Citizens? You condone that under any circumstances? BS, I don't care what crime you have or may have committed, if you are a US citizen you are entitled to all the rights provided under the Constitution.

    It's pointless to debate you. Arguing over the internet is an exercise in futility. My advice to you and all "conservatives" is quit making excuses for the impending avalanche. We are reaping what we sowed. Take a good look inward and refocus on true conservative values, not just the religious ones. Respect your opponents opinions (disagreeing with someone does make them anti-American) and try to find common ground for the good of the country. That is the true spirit of Reaganism. Once the party does that, and gets it house in order, conservatives can come back from the wilderness. Until then it's just a bunch of cry babies in denial.

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  9. sudonum, in one sentence you say it is pointless to debate me, but then you try to claim you are somehow more conservative than me, knowing nothing of me or my background. (First hint: I'm not a "religious" conservative. My conservatism is secular. My faith, what little scraps remain of it, have nothing to do with my politics. Conservative values stand on their own merit and do not need the crutch of theology to prop them up. I've spent the past 33 of my 41 years exploring, supporting and defending conservative principles, and I've yet to crack open a bible in the process.) Then you go on to tell me to respect other's opinions? Lovely.

    All the BS about how "nothing" was found during the Whitewater and Travelgate investigations and aside, the point of this particular blog entry is Joe Wurzelbacher and how the (pro-Obama faction of the) media tore into this guy's life in a manner not seen since, oh, Palin's selection. It was not necessary, not productive, and accomplished nothing more than tossing red meat to the Left's attack dogs and intimidating anyone with a less than pure past from questioning the Left's chosen leader (Except for Wurzelbacher. He doesn't seem to be backing down.).

    And yet, Obama's "spread the wealth around" slip still stands. Although Obama's fans in the media and on forums worldwide tried to bury it with "Joe's not a plumber and he doesn't pay his taxes" tabloid fodder, that one comment keeps popping up, haunting the biggest socialist to have a good chance at the White House since FDR.

    And why does Obama have such a good chance at becoming president? Because Bush took a page from Woodrow Wilson's book on spreading democracy? Maybe it was the Medicare prescription drug expansion? Making the "they're only doing jobs other Americans won't do" excuse for illegal aliens? (Like beating and strangling my neighbor to death and sexually assaulting the corpse? There was a market demand for that?) Or is it because congressional Republicans abandoned their Contract with America and took up the same bad habits of spending, pork and cronyism that cost many of the previous majority holders their jobs?

    Oh wait, it's all about a war that's already ending? Really?

    The funny thing is, all the items you've presented as reasons to not support John McCain (Not my first pick either, but that's for another thread.) aren't points against McCain. He's against torturing anyone, U.S. Citizen or not. He's against excessive spending, even when it comes to the government being overbilled by private contractors supporting the effort in Iraq. And I would think that picking Palin would eliminate any cronyism claims. Sure, he's had his weak points when it comes to illegal immigration, but the senator from Arizona went to Iowa and learned that Americans and legal immgrants really do want the borders secured and applicants vetted.

    Typically, the further the pendulum swings to one side determines how far back it will swing to the other side. But now it will swing from the not-really-very-far-right to the far, far, far left? Oh well, physics wouldn't be the first thing politics has defied.

    We already have too much socialism in our system. We don't deserve to "reap" more, regardless of anything the current administration has done. The concept is flawed and fails when practiced. Period. Hats off to "Joe the (non) Plumber" for bring that back into focus.

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