Thursday, October 16, 2008

Was "Joe The Plumber" A Republican Plant?

“As I trudge the path of destiny my opinion doesn't pay,
I'm a blue collar simple mind who cannot find his way his way.” — Regular Guy, the Dropkick Murphys

Much of last night’s debate raged around the seemingly mythical “Joe The Plumber,” and how Barack Obama and John McCain’s policies were going to affect “regular Joes” like him. With the economy tanking this badly and most of America feeling stiffed by this myth of the “American Dream”, it stood to reason that the candidates would try to conjure a quintessential image of someone from middle America, trying to make up his mind who to vote for in this crucial election year.

Joe seemed to personify this modern-American everyman, one who both ambivalent voters and press, hungry for “realism” away from the too-scripted political processes looked to for help making sense of what everyone was seeing.

As it turns out, this “Joe the Plumber” was a real person: Joe Wurzelbacher (spelled Worzelbacher on his voter registration!). He was even displayed on the post-debate news spin last night on CBS with Katie Couric. In the phone interview with Joe “McCain is solid … we’ve seen McCain, we know his action.”

Wurzelbacher then expressed concerns about Obama’s tax plan, saying “I’m middle class, I don’t want my taxes raised any more.” When Couric asked him whether he made over $250,000 a year, he replied no, but then called it “a slippery slope” when someone decides $250,000 and you’re rich, then $100,000 a year and your rich.

Wurzelbacher had already met McCain, and per his story saw Obama walking through his neighborhood while he was out, and he walked over to get involved as he “always wanted to ask these guys a question and really corner them.” On Obama’s answers to his questions, old ‘Joe The Plumber’ felt "unfortunately I still got a tap dance ... almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr."

It certainly made for good anecdotal reference. And the post debate interview made great RNC spin.

Yet something there seemed a bit too standard issue FOX News to me.

So after after some digging I found that Joe is indeed a registered Republican. No surprise.

But then I began wondering if old Joe The Plumber communicated this to the McCain campaign? The McCain camp, I’m sure, would see this as a wonderful way to play off Joe as a common connection during the debaters, and someone who was presumed by many (or at least played up to be) to be the quintessential uncommitted or independent voter in this middle American battleground state. Can you say “shill?”

It turns out that Joe’s dad is reported to be a heavy contributor to the GOP. Maybe Joe’s not quite such an independent voice after all. But again no surprise, this is America the polarized.

An unrelated final note, Joe it seems was at least accused of domestic violence by his first wife Jennifer according to papers filed in their divorce in Tucson back in 1997. Part of the court costs included the County’s charges for the Battered Women’s Shelter.,1

Well, Joe’s just a regular guy all right. All the same fallibilities. And even the same pre-conceived allegiances. Nothing special.

I just wish the media would stop playing him off as “something special.”

“I'm kind of like the, uh, Everyman, so I think people just relate to that.” — Kato Kaelin, groundskeeper for O. J. Simpson

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