I realize it’s all about winning at this point. But someone has to ask: What has happened to the Democratic Party?
It seems like just yesterday that the party of Franklin D. Roosevelt and John F. Kennedy was talking about income equality and civil rights and worker protections and going to bat for the little guy, the blue collar laborer, the everyday Joe the Plumber.
Now, the well-to-do elites who run the Democratic Party — and their surrogates — greet these people with brickbats. They insult them, talk down to them, and even try to destroy them. Isn’t that the sort of war on the working class that Democrats are always accusing those greedy and heartless Republicans of waging?
In fact, since the Democratic presidential nominee isn’t exactly a drinking buddy of Joe Six-pack, he knew enough to recruit a regular Joe to be his running mate. What? Joe Biden wasn’t chosen for his eloquence or rhetorical discipline. It’s his job to schmooze so-called lunch bucket voters.
As long as, it seems, one of them doesn’t put down his lunch bucket, straighten his blue collar, and pipe up with an opinion. Or even deign to ask a question of a presidential candidate conducting an expedition through his working-class neighborhood.
That’s what Joe Wurzelbacher did. You know the story: the Ohio resident made the mistake of confronting Barack Obama over the fairness of his tax plan. Wurzelbacher told Obama that he was a plumber who was thinking of buying his own business. But he was worried that, under Obama’s plan, he’d pay more in taxes.
For five minutes, Obama explained that Joe would only pay more if he made more than $250,000 per year.
[In media interviews, Joe acknowledged that he earns nowhere near that amount at the moment. But he said he expects to cross the $250,000 threshold someday.]
That’s where the story would have ended if not for one thing: Obama flubbed the answer. He actually acknowledged that, while he was happy that Joe was doing well — and in a position to do even better if he bought a plumbing business — what concerned him were “all the people behind you” who weren’t doing as well and needed a leg up. Obama said that, if elected, he planned to “spread the wealth around” from the well-to-do to the not-so-well-off.
That’s not good. It’s often the case that the not-so-well-off have made some not-so-good decisions and all manner of bad choices, and this sort of behavior should not be rewarded. And it’s also often the case that the well-to-do have worked hard, made sacrifices, taken risks and made good choices, and this sort of behavior should not be punished.
It’s also not a good thing for a politician say out loud, even if he believes it. They teach this in the first semester at the Kennedy School of Government, where baby politicians go to cut their teeth and learn how to get things done. Rule No. 1: Get elected. Rule No. 2: Don’t do anything that interferes with Rule No. 1.
With just a few weeks until the election, Obama made a major boo-boo that could cost him the race. What are Democrats and their simpaticos in the media supposed to do? They can’t turn back time. So instead, they turn on Joe the Plumber.
Obama and Biden take pot-shots at Joe the Plumber. And the media starts digging.
[Hey, the media has time on its hands. It’s not like they’re investigating the connection between Obama and unrepentant domestic terrorist William Ayers.]
So before you can say “character assassination,” the smear-mongers have found out that Joe Wurzelbacher is really Samuel Joe Wurzelbacher, that he owes back taxes and has a lien on his property, that he doesn’t have a plumbing license, and that he may not even be — gasp — registered to vote.
Regarding the last item, at this point, can you blame him?
It seems the Democratic Party doesn’t know what to be anymore. Given the experience of a certain plumber, the answer is obvious: It should be ashamed.