The star of the final Presidential debate Wednesday night was not Barack Obama or John McCain. It was Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher from Ohio. Joe the Plumber came to the attention of the candidates when a video of him questioning Obama about his tax policy made news. Video of Obama’s response that when you “spread the wealth around” it’s good for everybody, spread like wildfire across the internet, to some cable news shows, and to John McCain’s attention. Since Joe was a big focus of the debate, and a big hit with Republicans, the Obama thugocracy (as tagged by Michael Barone) wasted no time targeting him.
Some liberal bloggers went after Joe the Plumber saying he didn’t even make $250,000 and that he would receive a tax cut under Barack Obama’s plan, supposedly proving “Joe the Plumber” was a Republican lie. Here is what Joe said in the exchange with Obama: “I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes about 250, 270-80 thousand dollars a year. Your new tax plan is going to tax me more isn’t it?” So much for the Republican lie. Joe told Obama that he was planning on buying a company, which he hoped would put him in that $250,000 or more income range in the future, which prompted Obama’s response about spreading the wealth around. By choosing that line of attack, those on the left proved what many of us on the right already believed – that they don’t “get” the basic concept of the American dream.
The American “dream” is about aspiring to improve your lot – to take advantage of the freedoms this country affords those who are willing to work hard, invest time and energy and often to take risks, to achieve success. In the response of liberals trying to blunt the effect of Obama’s spread the wealth comment they revealed their inability to understand that basic concept. Obama did the same in the full response he gave to Joe’s question. Obama stressed over and over again not what his tax plan would do to those who have begun to experience the success of the American dream, but only what it would do for those behind them. The idea that increasing taxes on the rich could negatively impact the not yet rich is a completely foreign notion.
In addition to those who tried to make hay out of the fact that Joe doesn’t yet make $250,000 (which they would have known if they had actually listened to his question), the Obama thugocracy went after him any other way they could. First they questioned Joe’s political affiliation, some saying he had given to Republicans in the past and others saying he was not registered to vote at all. Then they moved to his personal financial and legal records – first digging up a tax lien against him, then pointing out that he didn’t have a specific license (something required for commercial work, not residential).Joe “not the plumber” Biden, evidently listening to the talking points and not to Joe the Plumber’s question, thought that Joe the Plumber made $250,000 and therefore wasn’t really a “real” plumber at all. On NBC’s Today show Biden said, “John [McCain] wants to cling to the notion of this guy Joe the plumber. I don’t have any Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood that make $250,000 a year. The Joe the plumbers in my neighborhood, the Joe the cops in my neighborhood, the Joe the grocery store owners in my neighborhood, they make, like 98 percent of the small businesses, less than $250,000 a year.” God love’em.
On Good Morning America in an interview with Diane Sawyer, Joe the Plumber said Obama’s plan to take more money from those who are successful is “scary” and a “very socialist view” and a “slippery slope.” If he continues to talk like that, and if he continues to resonate with Americans, there is no telling what we will learn next about Joe Wurzelbacher. Is he Trig Palin’s baby daddy? Does he wear silk undergarments? Is he really bald? The point those on the left now trying to destroy Joe the Plumber don’t get is that it doesn’t matter. Not only do their nasty attacks on him discourage anyone else from becoming involved in public political debate, but nothing they could dig up on him would matter anyway.
Whether Joe the Plumber is a Republican or a Democrat, a decided or undecided registered or unregistered voter, gay or straight, a wearer of boxers or briefs, a huge GOP donor or even the secret love child of John McCain doesn’t matter, because it doesn’t change what Barack Obama said. Of his own free will, Obama admitted that he believes his tax plan is a good thing because when you “spread the wealth around” it’s good for everybody.
Those of us who have believed Obama’s policy proposals to be a socialist redistribution of wealth had everything we believed confirmed, straight from the horse’s mouth. That is what was so shocking about the video exchange between Obama and Wurzelbacher -- what Obama said.
Joe the Plumber is not going to be making tax policy (unfortunately), so even if he was a plant or a liar or Trig Palin’s daddy or John McCain’s love child doesn’t matter because it would not change what Barack Obama said. If the scenario described by Joe was real or fabricated would not even change the fact that Obama, the man asking to be allowed to reshape America’s economic policies, said out loud what his philosophy on taxes is and it amounts to redistribution of wealth.
James Pethokoukis at U.S. News and World Report said that in Obama’s statement he was “playing into the most extreme stereotype” of the Democrat party “that is infested with socialists.” He pointed to what he called McCain’s best line in the debate, “Now, of all times in America, we need to cut people’s taxes. We need to encourage business, create jobs, not spread the wealth around.”
Pethokoukis then pointed to something from a Gallup poll from June: “When given a choice about how government should address the numerous economic difficulties facing today’s consumer, Americans overwhelmingly – by 84% to 13% -- prefer that the government focus on improving overall economic conditions and the jobs situation in the United States as opposed to taking steps to distribute wealth more evenly among Americans.”
That attitude may have changed a bit since June, considering the recent credit crisis and anger toward Wall Street fat cats. But even if it is not still an 84-13% split, it is almost certainly still a substantial majority. No wonder those on the Left have decided Joe the Plumber must be destroyed. What they don’t get is that he is not what will cost them votes – Obama’s own words are.