Joe the Hater

Posted By on October 31, 2008

I went to pick up my daughter at her friend Laura’s house and encountered a McCain-Palin sign on Laura’s parents’ front yard. I’ve talked politics to Laura’s mom, who’s said she leaned toward McCain. When I offered her Obama literature, she at least took it. When I picked up Lylah, Laura’s dad opened the door. I told him I was about to offer him Obama literature. He said no thanks. I said too bad. A fittingly scary conversation for Halloween night.

 Why do people vote for those who undermine them? I suspect a McCain administration wouldn’t better this family’s circumstances; surely, the Bush administration hasn’t. Okay, McCain’s familiar, and he and ueberfemme Sarah Palin may embody traditional values, or at least give lip service to them. Besides, they’re old-fashioned, though Palin’s pretty modern, at least in the chronological sense (she’s even younger than Obama, the most modern major politician on the set).

I’ve been canvassing for Obama for the past few weeks and am in the phase, a very late one, where I’m persuading people to commit to pulling the Obama lever or even vote early. It’s disheartening to encounter those on the other side of history, because history dictates an Obama win. His move – from out of nowhere, digitally empowered, original – seems inexorable to me. Not to mention his attributes.

Which brings me to Joe the Plumber, McCain’s latest substitute for an idea. Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher (thanks to Wikipedia, which also lists me, with qualifications) has come to embody Everyman and become McCain’s vehicle for middle-class identification. Joe has said he considers Obama a socialist, thinks an Obama election would signal the death of Israel (the racist subtexts here are manifold) and calls Social Security “a joke.” 

Because of the publicity, Joe’s flirting with a career as a country music singer, and a whack job Massachusetts-based Republican organization is pushing him to run for Congress in 2010. He’s clearly a flash in various jingoist pans, not to mention a faux celebrity McCain is using to pump up his own lackluster appearances.

Meanwhile, it looks like McCain has an uphill fight for the Presidency. Meanwhile, Obama appeals for money even though as of last report, he’d generated $650 million in Internet-based funds. And even in the last few days of this campaign, he’s soliciting small donations – and people like me are donating. He’s the equivalent of a fresh Macintosh, the latest Apple object of desire; you want it even if and when you don’t need it. (Not that we don’t need Obama.)

To me, Joe the Plumber is Joe the Hater, a way McCain can tar Obama late in the game. Let’s hope it’s too late and Joe the Plumber becomes a footnote, the political equivalent of Milli Vanilli. They’re equally authentic.


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I'm a veteran critic and business writer who reads and listens and writes about music, books, hotels and travel. I've been in the business for many years and still enjoy it. My pride and joy is my book, Cleveland Rock & Roll Memories. Follow me on Twitter: