First They Came for Joe the Plumber...

Joe's question about taxes threw a wrench into Barack Obama's campaign pitch. So, oh what a background check Joe got. Within days, reports were all over the news that Joe owes back taxes, he doesn't have an Ohio plumber's license, his real name is Samuel, and he is -- shock and horror -- a registered Republican. Within days, Obama and Biden were holding up Joe to public ridicule, and by implication mocking any American working stiff who might have the audacity to want to earn more than $250,000 per year.

Obama may be full of talk about delivering the American dream, but he apparently has enormous disdain for Americans who actually sweat to earn it for themselves. He wants to take Joe's money and spread it around in the name of helping others get ahead -- but if anyone gets ahead more than Obama deems fitting, watch out.

It seems that Joe's sins are less than the litany would make them. He may not have a plumber's license, but he works for someone who does. He owes back taxes, but less than $1,200. And at least to date, it is not a crime in America to use a nickname or be a registered Republican.

But to squabble over Joe's record is to miss the real point. Obama is the one running for public office, aspiring to the country's highest position of power and public trust. Joe is not. He's a private citizen, who had every right to ask a very good question. He wanted to know why he was being taxed "more and more for fulfilling the American dream?"

What he got from the well-heeled Senators Obama and Biden was mockery and contempt.

Most disturbing is this: If that's how Joe the Plumber gets dealt with while Obama is still stumping for votes, then what happens to Joe, or anyone else who dares question Obama's plans, should Obama win the White House?

Should we expect that that the answer will be targeted investigations, a public display of whatever can be dug up in the way of private laundry, and sneers from the Oval Office?

In the interest of having an informed electorate, it would be far more valuable were the media teams working less frantically to dig up dirt on Joe, and a lot harder on filling in the gaps in the record of candidate Obama. Why won't Obama release his Columbia transcripts? What exactly was he doing during those gaps in the bio?

How are we supposed to square the lavish praise of Obama's intellectual powers and refined sensitivities with his professed failure during years of intimate acquaintance to notice the hate-speech of Rev. Wright? What is the real story with the ties to Bill Ayers, to Tony Rezko? What does that say about his judgment in choosing friends and advisers and associates?

Would Obama appoint similar pals to high office in Washington? Would he bring similarly blinkered perceptions to the job of making policy? Would his critics receive the kind of savaging just dished out to Joe? If there's any chance that the answer is yes, then the drubbing of Joe the Plumber is a warning to us all.