Talk Talk Talk Talk Talk Myself to Death: Joe the Plumber

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Joe the Plumber

Joe the Plumber
Went to the bar.
A couple of drinks on the house
and John McCain was calling him his old friend.

So how was the debate for you? I heard it on the radio, so I missed the facial expressions that were so entertaining on the recaps. What I've been hoping for (even if I never really thought I was going to get it) in these debates is a John McCain meltdown. He seemed to show tonight that he was capable of such behavior, but, alas, we never actually saw it. What we did see, I thought, were a lot of lost opportunities for Obama to capitalize on McCain's misstatements or dropped points. For instance, on the heated subject of personal attacks, Obama mentioned Sarah Palin's statement that he "pals around with terrorists." McCain said that his campaign has repudiated every negative comment that's been made about Obama, but if he's turned his back on this one from his very own running mate, I haven't seen it. Instead of pressing the point, however, Obama simply allowed it to pass. Toward the end of the discussion on taxes, McCain said that they shouldn't raise anyone's taxes, which was the obvious cue to mention that McCain's health-care plan includes a new, never-before-attempted tax on employee benefits.

I suppose that Obama's gameplan was probably to come in and consolidate his support. He's in a good enough situation that he doesn't need to expand his appeal if he can hold what he's already got. A safe, conservative strategy in which he didn't get ruffled was likely his primary goal tonight. Mission accomplished.

McCain, on the other hand, needed to make something happen. It's possible that he didn't even have it in his own hands to change the dynamic. However good he might've been, it may not have mattered unless Obama screwed up--and, oh yeah, Obama didn't. Trying to come up with something, McCain went all in with Joe the Plumber, who apparently previously resided somewhere in left field. One mention of the man who was meant to represent middle America might've been fine, but McCain kept bringing him up so much I had to wonder if Joe was going to be replacing Bill Ayers as the centerpiece of his anti-Obama campaign. McCain really did, at one point, refer to his "old friend Joe the Plumber." But how does Joe rate as a surrogate for "regular people"? His problem with Obama's tax plan is that it will raise taxes on a business he's trying to buy worth more than $250,000. That's good for him to be in such a positive economic situation, but how much of the public can really identify with his problems? Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), Joe the Plumber doesn't seem to be the Game ChangerTM McCain was looking for.


At 2:31 PM, October 16, 2008, Anonymous Anonymous said...

First we had "Joe Six-Pack."
Next we had "Joe the Plumber."
I wonder how "Joe the Biden" feels about all this attention he's getting?


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