PJ Media

How 'Joe the Plumber' Could Cost Obama the Election

Isn’t it interesting? It took a plumber to flush out Barack Obama’s economic philosophy and make Americans realize that the Democratic candidate’s ideas on taxes don’t hold water.

Samuel Joseph “Joe” Wurzelbacher, the suddenly famous 34-year-old plumber from suburban Toledo, Ohio, who asked Obama a simple but apparently inconvenient question about tax policy, could possibly end up having the same game-changing effect on the 2008 elections that Shekar Ramanuja Sidarth had on the 2006 elections.

Shekar Ramanuja Sidarth?

How quickly they forget!

S. R. Sidarth, as he prefers to be called, is the person most likely responsible for ending the presidential ambitions of a rising Republican star and flipping the U.S. Senate from Republican to Democrat, thereby making Harry Reid Senate Majority Leader.

Senator George Allen (R-VA) turned near-certain re-election victory into defeat when at a campaign rally he pointed to 20-year-old college student of Asian Indian descent (Sidarth) who was following him around the state with a video camera while working for his opponent and said to the crowd: “Let’s give a welcome to “macaca” here. Welcome to America and the real world of Virginia.”

The rest of that campaign became as much about Allen vs. that young student as it was about Allen vs. Jim Webb, now Senator Webb. “Macaca,” it turns out, is a word used in Europe to refer to a dark-skinned person as a monkey. To make things worse, the dark-skinned student Allen asked his supporters to “welcome to America” happened to have been born and raised in Virginia. Allen first claimed that he did not realize the word was offensive and didn’t even know what it meant — but then began apologizing with ever-increasing intensity. Allen’s lead plunged, he never recovered his bearings, and he ended up losing the race he had been on track to win.

What the public saw in that exchange was an average citizen being insulted, belittled, mocked, and bullied for doing nothing more than merely differ with a political candidate in a perfectly civil manner — and it repelled voters.

Remind you of anything going on now?

Like S. R. Sidarth before him, average citizen “Joe the Plumber,” as the media dubbed him, is also being insulted, belittled, mocked, and bullied by powerful political figures. But note the astonishing difference this time around. Instead of rallying to the side of the victim, the mainstream media is instead rushing to the aid of the bullies, gleefully joining the Democrats in insulting and mocking the victim.

What we are witnessing is something that has become a predictable pattern whenever any person emerges as a perceived serious threat to the Democrats and the left in general. If they lack facts and sound arguments for making a case against that person, there is an attempt to discredit and destroy, with a blistering barrage of belittlements, without regard to whether any of it is factual. It is a deliberate strategy that they turn to again and again. Sadly, more often than not, it works. You can sum up this strategy is one word: Smear.

The reason they so often get away with it is because they can depend on the mainstream media either to turn a blind eye or even actively participate as an ally in their smears. Such blatant media bias does serious damage to political discourse and injures the public interest. It is also turning those who work in journalism into the equivalent of the used-car salesman caricature.

The smear strategy works best when the barrage of belittlements and false accusations are unloaded quickly and the target receives little or no opportunity for rebuttal before the public’s attention moves on to other things. Small wonder that such smears are referred to as “drive-bys.”

But the great risk in such a smear strategy is that it carries with it the potential to backfire — if it lingers and becomes too obvious.

This happened weeks before the last presidential election when CBS News tried to peddle fraudulent documents to the American people discrediting the National Guard service of President Bush and ended up instead inadvertently assisting his re-election.

And it happened recently when the Democrats and their media allies went to outrageous extremes in trying to discredit and belittle Senator McCain’s pick of Governor Sarah Palin to be his running mate. The unintended consequence of their conduct was to make her the candidate in this year’s race that voters most want to see and hear. Thus, her convention speech outdrew Obama’s media-ballyhooed address, her debate appearance shattered viewing records, and even her appearance on Saturday Night Live broke records.

The joint venture by the Obama campaign and its media cheerleaders to insult, belittle, bully, and smear “Joe the Plumber” may go down as the biggest blunder of the 2008 president campaign because it could make the difference in this year’s presidential election — just as the ‘macaca’ treatment of S. R. Sidarth made the difference in who was elected to the Senate in Virginia two years ago.

Imagine the potential backlash when not only the candidate and his running mate and their surrogates mock and belittle an average Joe, but on top of that the media park themselves on his doorstep and proceed to launch a full scale attack against him to aid and abet those who are smearing him.

It is truly mindboggling. What did Samuel Joseph “Joe” Wurzelbacher do? He politely asked Barack Obama questions about his tax policies, no more.

Obama came into Joe’s neighborhood to meet some middle class voters and discuss issues with them. It was a typical political photo-op stunt — nothing wrong with that. One of the persons with whom Obama happened to speak was Joe. He was pleasant and respectful throughout their discussion, as was Obama. At the end both men smiled and shook hands and Obama said, “Thanks for the question. I appreciate it.”

So what’s the big deal? Why the campaign against “Joe the Plumber”? As we know, Barack Obama inadvertently let down his guard and stated his economic philosophy more clearly than he had ever before — which smacked of socialistic redistribution of wealth: “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everyone,” Obama remarked to Joe.

Obama’s off the cuff “spread the wealth around” remark was recorded on video and soon viewed by millions on YouTube. Suddenly, millions of Americans became worried about what an Obama presidency might really mean.

What is so incredible here — and so very revealing — is that the Obama campaign and its media co-conspirators have beem twisting the facts to claim that what is significant about Obama’s conversation with “Joe the Plumber” is not what Obama said, but rather who he said it to.

This is beyond ridiculous. It doesn’t matter to whom the remarks were addressed. The point is that Obama made them.

So attention is deflected from Obama’s economic views by trying to make Joe the issue.

“How many plumbers do you know who make a quarter million dollars a year?” Obama shouted at a campaign rally, as if that mattered.  Joe, by the way, never said he made that much; what he said to Obama was that he would like to someday buy a business that might put him in that league. “It is a dream that I have,” he later stated.

“I don’t have any ‘Joe the Plumbers’ in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year,” Joe Biden told campaign crowds.

Who cares? What’s his point? Perhaps plumbers doing that well are leery about living in the same neighborhood with a U.S. Senator who thinks plumbers are incapable of achieving such success and believes that if they do, he and Obama should be able to take a considerable portion of that money away from them and give it to whomever they wish?

Not willing to risk leaving campaigning for the Democrats solely in the hands of the Democrats, the media rushed in with barrels blazing.

In a article that began “The strange tale of Joe the Plumber…,” the New York Times reported that “under the glare of the ensuing media spotlight, reporters found that Mr. Wurzelbacher did not actually have a plumbing license, and that he actually owed some back taxes.”

Stop the presses! Asking a candidate a question and people not liking the candidate’s answer makes the plumber guy “a strange tale”?

Is it not possible to be working as a plumber before obtaining your plumbing license? Yes, it is. Isn’t Joe Wurzelbacher working as a plumber under his boss who has a plumbing license? Yes — that’s common practice. Shouldn’t the New York Times know this? Or do you suppose they do but think they are being cute in pulling a fast one on their readers?

Does Joe owe some back taxes? Yes. Does that fact put his question and Obama’s answer in any different light? No. More people have viewed media coverage about Joe’s small tax lien than about the much greater tax liens owed by the treasurer of Obama’s campaign, Martin Nesbitt, and his companies. You decide if that might be a possible sign of media bias.

It took but a day for the “glare of the ensuing media spotlight” to shine on what the mainstream media perceives as the shortcomings of Joe Wurzelbacher and reveal the details of their investigations.

Yet it took them nearly a year before they reluctantly covered, attempted to rationalize, and then quickly dropped references to the lunatic ratings of Obama’s self-described spiritual mentor Rev. Jeremiah Wright. And they have yet to work up any real curiosity regarding the facts about the characters that Obama counts among his friends and allies.

No, what really matters, the Democrats would have us believe, is that the man who asked Barack Obama a question which Obama now wishes he had ducked, owes a bit over $1,000 in back taxes and is, like so many other plumbers, currently working under the plumbing license of his supervising boss.

So let’s all pretend this is a huge scandal and try to make it sound that way. Which is exactly what NBC correspondent David Gregory did.

“His first name is actually Samuel,” Gregory revealed to the world. “Joseph is his middle name.” Horrors! The man goes by the nickname for his middle name! Then Gregory also dropped another big bomb on Joe: “He doesn’t have a plumbing license although he claims he doesn’t need it when he works for other people in Ohio.” No, Mr. Gregory, he explained that he does not need one when he works under the supervision of his boss who is licensed.

At MSNBC, Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews, two characters who seem determined to do for the field of journalism what Frank and Jesse James once did for the frontier banking system, each acted as If they were uncovering a huge scandal as well — breathlessly proclaimed in roughly these words: “His name isn’t really Joe and he isn’t a plumber.”

Again, he is a plumber, he is not the only person in America who goes by his middle name rather than his given first name, and it is not a felony offense to do that. It may be shocking to the folks working in the NBC/MSNBC division of the Obama campaign that neither F. Scott Fitzgerald nor J. Paul Getty went by his first name.

“There’s a report that he doesn’t have the proper license,” gushed yet another MSNBC reporter. None of them bothered to explain how it was that Joe could go to work the next day as a plumber, probably because they did not think to ask or wish to know.

“Joe the Liar,” leftist “comedian” Bill Maher railed on CNN’s Larry King Live.

On NBC’s The View, one of the talking empty heads ridiculed Joe for having “a fantasy” about someday having his own business. A dream? An aspiration? Nope, someone who asked an inconvenient question cannot possibly be someone who might be able to someday achieve his dream of operating his own business.

Newsweek joined in mocking Joe and even picked up on the idea of knocking the McCain campaign for failing to more thoroughly “vet” Joe — implying that Joe was really a McCain campaign plant and the Obama campaign had helped them out by picking Joe’s neighborhood.

“The real picture is now emerging,” proclaimed one MSNBC journalist. Joe, he told viewers, is “a phony” and what he said about his tax bracket was “utter fiction” and, besides, he is “not an independent voter” and, guess what, his 2006 tax return shows that he earned “only around $40,000.”

Joe spoke no “utter fiction” about his tax bracket since he never mentioned it in his discussion with candidate Obama. As for the innuendo that he misrepresented himself as an independent voter, neither Joe nor Obama made any reference to Joe’s political affiliation. And what public purpose is served by the media digging up and reporting the income of this private citizen — and why do they do so with smirks on their faces?

“Joe the Plumber” just happened to ask a question and the inadvertently revealing answer put tax policy back in the forefront of the presidential race. That’s a lot better for Republicans than it is for Democrats, and that is why the Democrats are angry at him.

The sorry spectacle of the Obama campaign and the mainstream media engaging in a joint effort to wage a smear campaign against private citizen Joe Wurzelbacher for committing the offense of asking a question that their candidate answered in a way that revealed his true beliefs and intentions might be the eye-opener that changes the outcome on November 4th.

Lending credence to such a possibility is the fact that it has happened before, even when the average citizen involved was subjected to nowhere near the abuse that has been heaped upon Joe Wurzelbacher.

Not only did that similar “macaca” incident change the Virginia Senate race two years ago, but a mini “Joe the Plumber” sort of incident may have caused the greatest presidential election upset of the 20th century.

It occurred in the election of 1948 when Governor Thomas E. Dewey was coasting to victory late in the race. Back in that day of “whistle-stop” campaigning, in which presidential candidates delivered speeches from the rear platform of a train, the rear platform of the train from which Dewey was speaking suddenly moved backwards for a few seconds. It caused no harm — except ultimately to Dewey, who reacted by saying into the microphone: “That’s the first lunatic I’ve had for an engineer. He probably ought to be shot at sunrise.”

Insulting, belittling, and mocking an average citizen derailed a front-running candidate in 1948 and in 2006. There is always the possibility — and hope — that history could repeat itself in 2008.