Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Plumber’s Crack

The Republicans know something the Dems still haven’t figured out: If you repeat a lie enough times it really does become true in the minds of the American public. The Dems may think they have finished off Joe the Plumber, but the Republicons are just getting started. Where there was once a little guy named Joe, now there is a towering little guy martyr.

Well after the jig was up, presidential candidate turned Fox talk show host Mike Huckabee re-delivered Samuel “Joseph” Wurzelbacher to stoke the myth that he is a working man’s hero. You might think Huckabee didn’t get the memo. But that’s the old memo. Huckabee definitely got the new one.

If you’re having trouble discerning the truth in the invented personas of McCain and Obama, take a run at the meta persona of Joe the Plumber. Which working man’s hero is he? The phony entrepreneur who plans to buy his boss’ plumbing business (but can’t actually afford to). The real unlicensed plumber who makes under $42,000 a year, who would actually receive a tax break under Obama’s tax plan? Or the idealized everyworker who can’t now but someday hopes to launch his own small business? The Republicans’ new talking point is that it doesn’t matter who Joe really is; it’s the idea of Joe that matters, all the media’s dug up facts be damned. This symbolic Joe is the Joe that the actual Joe pitched us with Huckabee’s help on Huckabee on Saturday. (Such myth-making has always been part of the strategy, but only recently has it become an overt part of the narrative. In our postmodern politics, the industrial design is part of the aesthetics.)

Huckabee began on an angry white male note, inveiging against the liberal media lynch mob which has so mistreated Joe Wurzelbacher by (making him famous and now probably rich and) dwelling on such irrelevant personal peccadilloes as the fact that he owes $1100 in back taxes – even though he rose prometheanly out of a national discussion about taxes. Huckabee then trotted out conservative Wall Street Journal economics writer Stephen Moore, who spent his first thirty seconds leading the studio audience in a call and response outpouring of support for the much maligned Joe, before lecturing us on how inimical Obama’s socialist, spread-the-wealth around tax plan would be to job creation in America.

Stephen Moore is a numbers guy. So I listened attentively when he explained that under Obama’s plan, if a guy like Joe built up a small business with half a million dollars in income, he would be paying “thirty, forty thousand dollars of extra income tax.” This means, he said, that Joe’s small business would have to hire one less worker or lay somebody off. Joe later declared funereally that Obama’s plan would “run small business right out of America.”

Meanwhile, I had gotten my calculator out. I’m not a numbers guy. But I remembered reading that Obama’s tax plan would raise taxes on individuals (including small businesses operating as sole proprietorships) by three percent – marginally – on net earnings over $250,000. That’s $7,500 in additional taxes under economist Stephen Moore’s own example, not “thirty, forty thousand.” It’s not inconsequential, but it’s not exactly an amount that requires laying off a worker. But to hear these guy’s talk about it, and fail to correct one another, it sounded like they thought Obama had invented the very idea of taxes.

Huckabee rounded out his show with an opposition figure, Al Sharpton, who quickly joined him in condemning ACORN for allowing voter registration workers to sign up some of the same gullible individuals multiple times. Huckabee and Sharpton stressed that ACORN is accused of voter registration fraud, not voter fraud. But neither of them bothered to point out that even if all of the allegations were true, and ACORN engaged in deliberate, rampant voter registration fraud on a large scale – which no one really believes – this could not possibly have any impact on election numbers unless the multiply-registered voters committed voter fraud by actually voting more than once. Sharpton made good points, including that the abuse engenders mistrust in the whole voting system and could discourage new registrants, and that whoever paid for the drives was defrauded to some extent. But outcome determinative? Not by the longest of long shots.

Most unfortunately, Sharpton squandered the chance to talk about the vastly more insidious scandal reported by the New York Times on October 8, in which “tens of thousands of eligible voters in at least six swing states have been removed from the rolls or have been blocked from registering in ways that appear to violate federal law.” In a follow up report released on October 16, Robert F. Kennedy and Greg Palast conclude that the number is actually in the millions.

The Dems may think they can coast across the finish line over the flattened cardboard cutouts of Joe the Plumber and the ACORN army, but unless they do something to combat these classically meretricious Republican narratives, Willie Horton and the Swift Boaters of 2008 may have just popped back up.

BEN ROSENFELD is a lawyer in San Francisco.

 

Your Ad Here
 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Ben Rosenfeld is a civil rights attorney in San Francisco.

October 23, 2018
Patrick Cockburn
The Middle East, Not Russia, Will Prove Trump’s Downfall
Ipek S. Burnett
The Assault on The New Colossus: Trump’s Threat to Close the U.S.-Mexican Border
Mary Troy Johnston
The War on Terror is the Reign of Terror
Maximilian Werner
The Rhetoric and Reality of Death by Grizzly
David Macaray
Teamsters, Hells Angels, and Self-Determination
Jeffrey Sommers
“No People, Big Problem”: Democracy and Its Discontents In Latvia
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail