FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Checking In With Joe the Plumber

Anyone who followed the 2008 presidential campaign will recall Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, the man who was plucked out of obscurity by Republican candidate John McCain to be paraded around as “Joe the Plumber,” intended, presumably, to represent the voice of the American Everyman.

No one is suggesting that Joe was stupid or dimwitted or in any way mentally challenged. It wasn’t his native intelligence that troubled us. Rather, what made Joe so damned infuriating was his annoying combination of abysmal ignorance and near suffocating arrogance. While practically every word out of his mouth was factually inaccurate or unsupportable, he uttered them with the supreme confidence of a Nobel Laureate.

For example, while portraying himself as a “small businessman,” he complained that if Obama were elected, his proposed tax plan would almost certainly ruin him, even though the most cursory inspection of Obama’s proposal revealed that the plan would help Joe and everyone else who earned less than $250,000 annually. At the time, Joe was making less than $40,000 a year and had a $1,182 lien against him for failure to pay back taxes.

Also, Joe fudged the truth a bit by presenting himself as a journeyman plumber. Maybe it was the result of McCain’s people pressuring him to present himself as such, or maybe he simply got swept away by the moment, but in truth, Joe didn’t possess a journeyman’s card (he never passed the certification test). His actual job title was “plumber’s assistant.”

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the difference between a journeyman plumber and a “plumber’s assistant” is profound. It is analogous to the difference between an auto mechanic capable of overhauling an engine and one capable of changing the spark plugs and oil.

In 2009, in a speech in Wisconsin, Joe—showing himself to be a student of colonial America—stated that the Founding Fathers “….knew socialism didn’t work, and knew Communism didn’t work.” Wow, those Founders really were the geniuses that historians say they were. Apparently, they had already rejected Communism 30 years before Karl Marx was even born.

Joe not only described Obama’s policies as “socialist,” he publicly objected to labor unions, which proved embarrassing for him, given that he had once emblazoned the logo of the plumbers’ union on his website (until the plumbers ordered him to remove it or face legal action).

So what does a guy who knows next to nothing but insists on expressing an opinion on virtually everything do once his 15 minutes of fame have expired? What’s a guy like that supposed to do? Well, he does two things: He becomes a “motivational speaker” and he runs for Congress. In 2012, Joe ran as the Republican candidate for Ohio’s 9th congressional seat. In no surprise, he was flattened by the incumbent Democrat, Marcy Kaptur.

Things haven’t gone well for Joe following his election loss. While lots of would-be congressmen manage to have soft landings, Joe wasn’t one of them. Not only did he never get his journeyman’s card, but the public made it clear that it didn’t wish to be “motivated” by his speeches. His “speaker” career went bust.

In 2011, Joe had enthusiastically spoken in favor of Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s busting of the state’s public sector unions. It was a speech Joe was more than willing to give because, deep-down, he had always been anti-union (plumbers’ logo notwithstanding), seeing organized labor as one further step on the road to socialism.

But in 2014, things picked up. Joe was finally able to land a decent job—one with livable wages and benefits. He got hired on at a Jeep plant. Alas, it was a union plant, represented by the United Auto Workers. Joe the Plumber—the rugged individualist and self-made man—is now a member of the UAW. Who would’ve thunk it?

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

Weekend Edition
November 16, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jonah Raskin
A California Jew in a Time of Anti-Semitism
Andrew Levine
Whither the Melting Pot?
Joshua Frank
Climate Change and Wildfires: The New Western Travesty
Nick Pemberton
The Revolution’s Here, Please Excuse Me While I Laugh
T.J. Coles
Israel Cannot Use Violent Self-Defense While Occupying Gaza
Rob Urie
Nuclear Weapons are a Nightmare Made in America
Paul Street
Barack von Obamenburg, Herr Donald, and Big Capitalist Hypocrisy: On How Fascism Happens
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fire is Sweeping Our Very Streets Today
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s New President, Other European Fools and the Abyss 
Pete Dolack
“Winners” in Amazon Sweepstakes Sure to be the Losers
Richard Eskow
Amazon, Go Home! Billions for Working People, But Not One Cent For Tribute
Ramzy Baroud
In Breach of Human Rights, Netanyahu Supports the Death Penalty against Palestinians
Brian Terrell
Ending the War in Yemen- Congressional Resolution is Not Enough!
John Laforge
Woolsey Fire Burns Toxic Santa Susana Reactor Site
Ralph Nader
The War Over Words: Republicans Easily Defeat the Democrats
M. G. Piety
Reading Plato in the Time of the Oligarchs
Rafael Correa
Ecuador’s Soft Coup and Political Persecution
Brian Cloughley
Aid Projects Can Work, But Not “Head-Smacking Stupid Ones”
David Swanson
A Tale of Two Marines
Robert Fantina
Democrats and the Mid-Term Elections
Joseph Flatley
The Fascist Creep: How Conspiracy Theories and an Unhinged President Created an Anti-Semitic Terrorist
Joseph Natoli
Twitter: Fast Track to the Id
William Hawes
Baselines for Activism: Brecht’s Stance, the New Science, and Planting Seeds
Bob Wing
Toward Racial Justice and a Third Reconstruction
Ron Jacobs
Hunter S. Thompson: Chronicling the Republic’s Fall
Oscar Gonzalez
Stan Lee and a Barrio Kid
Jack Rasmus
Election 2018 and the Unraveling of America
Sam Pizzigati
The Democrats Won Big, But Will They Go Bold?
Yves Engler
Canada and Saudi Arabia: Friends or Enemies?
Cesar Chelala
Can El Paso be a Model for Healing?
Mike Ferner
The Tragically Misnamed Paris Peace Conference
Barry Lando
Trump’s Enablers: Appalling Parallels
Ariel Dorfman
The Boy Who Taught Me About War and Peace
Yves Engler
Ottawa, Yemen and Guardian
Binoy Kampmark
The Disgruntled Former Prime Minister
Tracey L. Rogers
Dear White Women, There May be Hope for You After All
Faisal Khan
Is Dubai Really a Destination of Choice?
Arnold August
The Importance of Néstor García Iturbe, Cuban Intellectual
James Munson
An Indecisive War To End All Wars, I Mean the Midterm Elections
Nyla Ali Khan
Women as Repositories of Communal Values and Cultural Traditions
Dan Bacher
Judge Orders Moratorium on Offshore Fracking in Federal Waters off California
Christopher Brauchli
When Depravity Wins
Robby Sherwin
Here’s an Idea
Susan Block
Cucks, Cuckolding and Campaign Management
Louis Proyect
The Mafia and the Class Struggle (Part Two)
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail