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McCain’s Vetters


John McCain has clearly learned from experience and anyone doubting it had only to watch the third debate. With all the thousands, if not millions, of things that have been written about Mr. Wurzelbacher, none has tumbled to the real reason John McCain introduced him to the American public during that debate. It was part of a pre-inauguration-cabinet selection process that Mr. McCain put into motion prior to actually taking office. And it was inspired by the flawed process he followed in selecting his vice-presidential companion.

It has become common knowledge that the vetting of Sarah Palin was somewhat less than complete. Although Mr. McCain has put a brave face on the selection and would have one and all believe that she was selected only after months of digging into her background and beliefs, it has become increasingly clear that there were a number of surprises that followed her selection such as the scandal known as “troopergate” in which the investigator said: “I find that Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. ” (Sarah said she had been exonerated, a conclusion not all who read the report understood.)

There were a number of disclosures following her selection and campaigning that showed she was lying about what she had done as governor. It is safe to say that if Mr. McCain had known more about her before naming her he might have looked a bit further for a running mate. And that is why Mr. McCain’s action in the third debate is nothing short of brilliant.

Like Sarah Palin, Joe “the plumber” Wurzelbacher, was a complete unknown to the electorate until some time between 9 PM and 11 PM EST on October 16. And it was during that time period that Mr. McCain introduced him to the American public. What was known to only a very few is that this was not a random act by John McCain, in an attempt to poke fun at Barack Obama. It was the first step in an elaborate scheme to vet Mr. Wurzelbacher.

Mr. McCain saw in Mr. Wurzelbacher someone who would be an excellent Secretary of Labor. Among many potential qualities that attracted Mr. McCain to Mr. Wurzelbacher was that Mr. Wurzelbacher, unlike, for example Elaine Chao, the person now filling that post, is an actual laborer. (Ms. Chao had a distinguished career prior to entering government, having served as President and CEO of United Way of America and having served as Director of the Peace Corps, to name just a few of her many accomplishments. Nonetheless, it is safe to say she has never installed a toilet or dug a septic tank, the sorts of things John McCain expects his Secretary of Labor to have done and to be able to do. In addition, she represents the Washington elite that Mr. McCain’s running mate has repeatedly attacked.)

Stung by the failure of his staff to fully vet Sarah Palin and, therefore, unwilling to entrust future vetting to those who had so bitterly disappointed him in connection with her selection, he determined to use a completely different process to vet future appointments. And that is why Mr. Wurzelbacher was repeatedly referred to by Mr. McCain during the third debate. By mentioning Joe repeatedly, what Mr. McCain hoped to accomplish and, indeed, did accomplish, was a thorough vetting of Mr. Wurzelbacher by completely unbiased persons.

Although Mr. Wurzelbacher says he is a plumber, a quick check of Ohio records shows that he lacks a plumber’s license. According to Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations where Mr. Wurzelbacher works, Lucas County requires plumbers to be licensed. The vetting also discloses that the state of Ohio has filed a tax lien on Mr. Wurzelbacher’s house in the Lucas County Court of Common Pleas for $1,182.98. Although Mr. McCain continues to use Mr. Wurzelbacher’s name at campaign rallies, we also now know that Mr. Wurzelbacher doesn’t have a chance of raising enough money to buy the business as he said he wanted to do, nor does he have enough income to earn $250,000, the point at which Mr. Obama’s tax plan would cause him to pay more taxes.

None of the foregoing is meant to cast aspersion on Mr. Wurzelbacher since he did not ask to be considered for the position of Secretary of Labor and had he known he was being considered would have told Mr. McCain in advance, why his nomination might be in trouble were it publicly announced. As it is, Mr. McCain has been spared another embarrassing episode. For that he can thank the hated liberal media for doing the vetting he neglected when selecting Sarah Palin.

CHRISTOPHER BRAUCHLI is a lawyer in Boulder, Colorado. He can be reached at:




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