Thursday, October 16, 2008

Say It Ain't So, Joe

Joe the Plumber of Toledo, Ohio won the last presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain.
Joe Wurzelbacher, 34, an exact clone of actor Michael Chiklis from The Shield, was the all-American everyman, a scrappy worker and oft-referred to symbol of the common voter.
But who is Joe the Plumber and why did McCain and Obama mention him repeatedly during the debate? What Svengali-like powers does Joe the Plumber wield over the presidential candidates to have them say his name (or in McCain’s case, almost mention his name)?
What makes Joe the Plumber so damn special? Why not mention Bob the Baker, or Jane the Accountant or Steve the Gynecologist?
Wurzelbacher has a dream. He wants to buy the small plumbing business he works for, one with revenues up to $250,000. Wurzelbacher met Obama at an Ohio rally and the two talked.
At the debate, Obama and McCain used Joe the Plumber as an example of the working guy whose dreams could be dashed because Obama plans to increase the tax rate from 36 percent to 39 percent for people earning more than $250,000.
Our hero Joe the Plumber would be screwed if he tried buying the plumbing business under Obama’s plan.
Thus the epic battle between McCain and Obama for Joe the Plumber’s vote.
The ordinary Joe – literally a man named Joe – became a focal point for explaining the different tax policies between the two candidates.
After the first ten mentions of Joe the Plumber, reporters scrambled to contact the reclusive political mastermind to glean what the Machiavellian tactician thought of all the national attention.
In an interview with the uber-conservative, published before the debate, Wurzelbacher equivocates Obama’s plan of “redistributing the wealth” to socialism. Yet he’s extremely pragmatic and down to earth in his way of thinking: if you work, you should be able to keep what you earn.
“Me personally, my American Dream was to have a house, a dog, a couple rifles, a bass boat. I believe in living life easy and simple. I don’t have grand designs. I don’t want much. I just wanna be able to take care of my family and do things with them outdoors and that’s about it, really. I don’t have a “grand scheme” thing. My American Dream is just more personal to me as far as working, making a good living and being able to provide for my family, college for my son. Things like that – simple things in life, that’s really what it comes down to for me. That’s my dream,” Wurzelbacher said.
Asked if he wanted McCain to cover the issues of taxes for small businesses in Wednesday’s debate, Wurzelbacher said: “There’s a lot of things I wish McCain would say. As far as this, yes, I would like him to speak. Not so much about small businesses, but just people in general that make this money. It’s not up to them to help America, I mean – let me rephrase that. It’s not – they shouldn’t be taxed more because they’ve succeeded. That’s envy and jealousy. Get off your butt and go work. Don’t sit there and expect the government to give it to you.”
Maybe Joe the Plumber is not so much a salt-of-the-earth everyman but just a guy who wants the simple pleasures of life. Maybe he’s not so much a celebrity but a barometer for working people who want to succeed. And own guns and a bass boat and other redneck shit like that.
The criticism with Democrats is that they want to punish people for doing well and making money. So what’s the alternative? Living a sluggish, sloth-like existence and not working? The Republicans give the wealthiest citizens tax breaks – rewarding those who succeeded. It’s almost like the Republicans are treating taxpayers like school kids: those who do well in class receive good grades and get to go on the field trip, while those who slack off and fail get left behind another grade. If Democrats ran the school, the Honors students would be reprimanded and left behind while all of the poor students pass their classes and get to visit the ice cream factory.
But what does any of this mean to Joe the Plumber, the new political diva?
Joe, you’re pretty much fucked. If your plumbing business comes up a little short, you get taxed if McCain wins. If Obama wins and your business makes over $250,000, you’ll still get taxed.
Your best bet is to leave the plumbing business altogether and run for office. Joe the Ohio State Representative might not have a snappy ring to it, but at least you’ll be doing the screwing instead of getting screwed.

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