The final presidential debate launched an unlikely national superstar — Joe Wurzelbacher, otherwise known as Joe the Plumber. The weekend before the debate, Joe was approached by Barack Obama when Obama was campaigning in his area, and Joe asked Obama about tax policies that might adversely affect him if he is successful in buying a plumbing business.
Part of Obama’s long, convoluted answer included this gem: “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they’ve got a chance at success too. I think that when you spread the wealth around it’s good for everybody.” The video snippet became quite popular online.
I had the opportunity to interview Joe, an interview that appeared online before he became a household name. (You can read that interview here.) In it, he displays an admirable grasp of how the distribution of wealth is much more effective when it’s done by the private sector — job creation, trade, etc. — than when the government takes it from you and decides how it will be allocated to the masses.
When John McCain mentioned Joe the Plumber during the debate, suddenly it was impossible to get hold of him because his phone was ringing off the hook with requests for media appearances. I too was deluged with emails from media reps about how to get hold of him. CNBC actually tracked my phone number down, calling to plead with me to get them in touch with Joe. (I wonder: if they could find my phone number, which didn’t thrill me, why couldn’t they find Joe’s?)
But this story is not about me. After a slew of television and radio appearances, where he kept his cool and entranced the nation with his obvious grasp on how bigger government hurts the average American, the media made sure that we began to find out unsavory tidbits about Joe: his given name is Samuel; he has a tax lien; and he calls himself a plumber when he doesn’t have a license — even though his employer has one. And, maybe most egregious of all, didn’t Joe know that the local plumber’s union supports Obama? (I received an email to that effect from an anonymous union rep.) Heaven forbid he should think for himself. Even his divorce records were considered fair game.
Suddenly, it didn’t matter that Joe’s simple question to Obama elicited a Freudian-slip response that gave us a clear glimpse into his socialist mindset. Joe is not to be trusted because Joe has some baggage. Diane Sawyer on Good Morning America, with that ever-so-patrician sneer in her voice, dutifully gave viewers an “update on Joe the Plumber,” just one day after she had jumped all over the chance to have an “exclusive” interview with him. One wonders if she is so concerned about the, er, integrity of her guests, why didn’t her producers check out his background before inviting him on? Oh right, the “get” is more important and you can always slam him later.
The media built this guy into an overnight sensation and just as quickly they were working to tear him back down again. And they wonder why nearly 60% of Americans don’t trust them?
Listening to my favorite local radio morning show, which features the “Loser of the Week” every Friday, one caller called in to nominate Joe because he must be some sort of hypocrite. He didn’t stop to think that his personal life would be picked over more thoroughly than a turkey carcass at Thanksgiving.
Perhaps Joe should have called Sarah Palin for some advice before giving all of those interviews.
Am I missing something? Is Joe running for president? What about the guy who is running for president? If we’re going to worry about past associations and baggage, why hasn’t the dinosaur media placed their laser-beam focus on any of the following?
- Obama’s campaign treasurer, Martin Nesbitt, also has a tax lien.
- Obama’s mentor, who is mentioned in his book as merely “Frank,” was Frank Marshall Davis, a card-carrying member of the Communist Party of the U.S.
- Obama’s as-yet unexplored relationship with Khalid Al-Mansour, an Islamist with nothing good to say about whites, non-Muslims, and the West in general.
And that’s just for starters.
If the angry reception that Sarah Palin received from the press and Washington insiders wasn’t proof enough that regular people are not welcome to join in the political process, the vilification of an everyday guy who dared to ask a tough question of The One should leave no doubt.