American Culture

When Joe the Plumber met McCain the loose cannon, Joe got crushed

by JS O’Brien

I feel really bad for Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, aka “Joe the Plumber.” Here is a guy, minding his own business, playing football on his front lawn with his 13-year-old son, when he looks up and sees a candidate for president walking down his street.  This particular candidate is tall, well-spoken, extraordinarily well-educated, accomplished, and black.  Joe is a Republican, so he figures he’ll confront a Democrat he doesn’t much care for.  He goes over to him and … well … embellishes a little bit, as we are all wont to do on occasion.

He tells the candidate he’s trying to buy a business that brings in more than $250,000 a year, and that would mean he would have to pay more taxes, wouldn’t it?  The candidate probably should have probed Joe a bit about whether he meant that the business charged a total of $250,000 or whether that was the profit, but he probably figured that Joe was a businessman and didn’t want to insult his intelligence.  So, the candidate from Chicago told him it would, but that tax savings for those earning less than he does would benefit others who could then afford his services more easily, meaning he could make more money from getting them as customers in a Keynesian “spreading the wealth around.”

Joe’s encounter with Senator Obama was duly reported in the media, and as befits the news cycle in this time of rapid change, quickly forgotten.

Except by John McCain and his campaign staff.

McCain, you see, had a tough debate coming up soon, and he thought that Joe’s story and Obama’s “spread the wealth” comment could be used to advantage, so he went to the debate and constantly brought up Joe’s name in an attempt to hammer Obama on tax fairness, making the point that if a plumber who had worked so hard and earned enough to buy a business could be hurt by Obama’s tax plan, then so could other ordinary Americans.

There was just one problem:  Joe wasn’t exactly who and what he said he was, and the media quickly found out about it and published what they found.

It turns out that Joe is not a licensed plumber and has never gone through any plumbing courses, which makes his work in Ohio illegal.  His employer has a license, but not to do work in Joe’s county.  Uh oh.  Joe also owes nearly $1,200 in back taxes and there’s a lien on his property.  He almost certainly doesn’t have the money to buy a business (his last public report of income was only $40,000), doesn’t really know much about business, and if the business he’s dreaming of buying (his boss’s) earns $250,000+ as he says, it must be the only two-man plumbing business in the world to do so.  And, there’s an outside chance that Joe is related to Charles Keating’s son in law.  Charles Keating is the swindler John McCain got entangled with that earned McCain a reprimand from the Senate Ethics Committee.

So where does this leave Joe?  Well, he’ll almost certainly be told to cease and desist working as a plumber until he gets a license.  The tax people will come after him.  His employer is bound to be angry.  He’s about to become a national laughingstock.  There’s a good chance that all those TV interviews people have been wanting will be canceled.  Joe is about to lose his livelihood, his good name, and his dignity.

And what about John McCain?  Well, he’s not only crushed Joe with his maverickness loose cannon-ness, he’s also made himself look like a fool for running with a story that turns out to be just another Republican fairy tale (see “Reagan, welfare queen, the”).

And this is the overarching reason why Americans should run screaming from John McCain.

I can imagine that carrier jet pilots need quick reactions and must sometimes make split-second decisions.  I’m sure John McCain’s willingness to make those quick decisions was very useful to him in wrecking three aircraft.  But who earth wants a president who makes snap judgments on complex issues?  Do we really want a man who plays Lone Ranger, parachuting into delicate legislative negotiations to “fix” things, only to exit stage right (Heavens to Murgatroid) on a whim for a debate after those negotiations fall apart?  Do we really want a guy who makes a snap judgment on a running mate, and gives us a woman who is undereducated, underexperienced, underbrained, undercurious, and under Todd Palin (surely Paris Hilton has better taste)?  A woman who has spent enough time in beauty pageants and being a television sports announcer to give a professional look on camera, but who is stumped by that most difficult of questions:  “What publications do you read?”  Do we want a man who lurches from one campaign message to another every 32 seconds, hoping something, anything, will resonate?

This time, John McCain hurt only Joe the Plumber with his impulsive behavior.  Give him the reins of the executive branch, and there’s no end to the damage he can do.  We should know, shouldn’t we?  “Fire, ready, aim” has been the motto of the White House for eight long years.

And it’s been a great ride, hasn’t it?

24 replies »

  1. We need a poll. McCain’s greatest fuck-up was:

    a) crashing half the jets in America’s force
    b) the Keating 5 scandal
    c) Sarah Palin
    d) Joe the Plumber

  2. Dr. Slammy,

    Do we really have to chose just one? I realize that you used the superlative for a reason, but “all of the above” would be really helpful. Ah, screw it i’ll go with C because, well, it was just a little too mavericky.

  3. I don’t know about C just yet. I mean, it was a great short-term pick…Keating Five didn’t have anything to redeem it by comparison.


    JOE THE NON-UNION, UNLISCENED, SCAB PLUMBER gives a bad name for Unionized Journeymen plumbers.

    Using McCain’s 6-Day 10hr shifts Joe could have made in excess of $250,000.00 WITHOUT EVEN OWNING THE BUSINESS!

    You say how? An PRIMARY “A” DIVISION JOURNEYMEN in LOCAL #1 makes $80.26 per hr (including benefits) X 6 days a week 10 hrs a day = $3,210.40 Regular Time + 20 hrs OT @ $120.29 = $2405.80 = $5616.20 x 52= $292,042.40!

    So JOE THE “SCAB” PLUMBER could pay his TAXES and get a new van if he was a PROUD AMERICAN “A” DIVISION JOURNEYMEN in LOCAL #1.

    Don’t believe the numbers? Call the Joint board and check!

    (718) 752-9630 or I can post a link to the wages.


    Vote Union Today = OBAMA 2008!

  5. Once it became clear that Joe-the-Plumber wasn’t what he was claiming… one of “us” (i.e. the cool kids who make over $250K), McCain dropped him like one of his crashing jets and went to look for his newest BFF, a REAL rich dude… enough of these peasants who don’t deserve tax breaks

  6. As a libertarian (lower case), I didn’t want anything to do with John McCain. He was the absolute last choice for all the Republicans I know as well. Somehow the media got him nominated, and now we’re faced with the choice of barf soup or a shit sandwich.

    I love the description of 0bama as ‘accomplished’. Name one. A flim-flam man from the south side of Chicago, he’s adored as the answer to all the problems of an economically troubled nation (Germany, 1933?), with his linebacker-in-drag wife who has to dress carefully to hide her ‘Kill Whitey’ tatoo.

    As for the blog admonition, ‘Think–it ain’t illegal yet…’, no, but it will be soon, and it will come from the left.

  7. It’s interesting that the media spent more time investigating Joe the Plumber’s “15 minutes of fame” than they did of Obama in two years.


  8. Neither McCain nor Obama have your best interest in mind! They are servants for the global elite. Their job is to enslave you without you knowing it. In the interview Obama claimed it would take a 40% flat sales tax rate of 40% to properly fund the government. That is wrong and he is lying to us. Dr. Ron Paul has stated a 23% sales tax rate would be sufficient because large corporations are the ones who spend the most money. Don’t let these crooks enslave us and take away our liberties. Vote for Bob Barr, write in Ron Paul. STOP BEING SHEEP.

  9. To ‘slingshot’:

    Ooh, ‘nitwit’, what a clever rejoinder. No one’s come up with that one for my handle before [rolls eyes].

    Guess what, people all over the world think and have opinions that differ from yours. Calling them names–and then having absolutely nothing else to say–isn’t exactly persuasive.

  10. Jeff:

    Please explain how the media has failed to “investigate” Obama over the last two years. You do realize that if there is no serious connection between him and Ayers, there isn’t much for the media to conclude? Unless they simply fabricate it (insert joke about Dan Rather here) — I hope we’re not blaming the media for that now, are we? And if Rev. Wright is just a crazy loud-mouthed preacher, there really isn’t a whole lot to report there either. Some wild stuff has been said at my longtime church too, but you’d have a dilly of a pickle attributing any of it to me, because I’m fairly passive in that environment.

    I guarantee that the “so-called mainstream media” would not hold back if there was any shred of a serious problem in any of these controversies. This is a very active media, regardless of partisan leanings, and such a story — if true — would be the scoop of the century for any media outlet. (Such a story, proven false, could also be its ruin — insert Dan Rather joke here.) But there hasn’t been any true, meaningful revelations yet, nor does any appear to be forthcoming given the facts of the stories: it’s all been very tangential “guilt by association” or worse, just bogus rumors and innuendo. This applies too to the continued belief that the media is “gun-shy” and holding back on some sort of bombshell because it fears the repercussions if it is false, a very unlikely proposition given the size and activity of the modern media.

    I don’t like to invoke the specter of McCarthyism, but McCain repeatedly bringing up Ayers and demanding that the American people need to know the full extent of their relationship is a little creepy. It’s “guilty until proven innocent,” it doesn’t work in a successful judicial system, and likewise it doesn’t work in an even mildly constructive and responsible media or political discourse.

  11. Steve, every intelligent Republican I know (and hey, it’s a red, red state) now prefaces any remark about Palin with, “She’s a wonderful woman and a great mother, but…” Even among the faithful, she’s gone straight to “Bless her heart.” That’s pretty fatal.

    On the other hand, McCain not only escaped unindicted from the S&L brouhaha, he was re-elected. Handily.

    I’m going for “C” this time.

  12. And I just saw that she’s still going on about Joe on the trail today… someone tell Sarah to check her Blackberry.

  13. I am going to central america next year on 4-months of volunteer work. By then, the US will have a new president.

    If Obama wins, I will visit your country, meet your people, and pump my hard-earned money into your struggling economy.

    If McCain wins, I’m giving the US a miss, and losing even more respect for the 51% majority of American people. I will just hope not too many of your children are raised by single mothers after you invade Iran.

  14. Spycake,
    Ayers, The Annenberg project, His shady real estate dealings, cronyism, sweetheart deals, direction of federal funds to supporters, his real birthplace, Chicago Thug Politics, ACORN, his wife’s sudden raise in pay grade when he became a senator and diverted funds to her employer,…..I could go on, but I don’t have all day.


  15. Yes, the evil Annenberg foundation; its funding of Sesame Street probably made me the radical socialist that i am today. Where was Obama’s real birth place…please don’t tell me it was the Panama Canal Zone, wait, that was where John McCain was born.

    Charles Keating, Liddy, lobbyists for Saddam Hussein…jeez, i could go on but i don’t have all day either.

    And i’m no Obama fan, but most of this stuff is either crap or the political same old same old right across the aisle. Of course, Obama never violated the Military Code of Conduct and collaborated with the enemy, but he is – apparently – a socialist and that’s much worse…or so i hear.