Utne Blogs > Politics

In Final Debate, the Tyranny of “Joe” Continues

 by Hannah Lobel


Tags: Politics, Election 2008, debates, presidential debate, Barack Obama, John McCain, Joe the Plumber, Joe Six Pack, Katie Couric, abortion, Colombia,

The last debate of the presidential election wrapped last night. The clear winner? “Joe the Plumber”—the latest Joe archetype to merit the candidates’ hyperfocused courting. But, to borrow a phrase from Sarah Palin, Who is the real Joe?

Well, he’s Joseph Wurzelbacher from Holland, Ohio—apparently the state’s only swing voter. Katie Couric scored another big interview by catching up with him post-debate on CBS’s webcast. And after listening to him, I wish we could return to the heady days of targeting the elusive Joe Six Pack, whose alcoholic haze must make him a tad more fun to chat with. Better yet, the campaigns could drop the Joe meme altogether. After all, the name is getting less popular.

As for the debate’s non-Joe content, Obama kept his cool under McCain’s battery of kitchen sinks. Bill Ayers! John Lewis hurt my feelings! Obama’s a baby killer! McCain didn’t manage so well in the split screens—at one point mockingly raising his eyebrows when Obama suggested that, when negotiating a trade agreement with Colombia, we should be concerned about the country's labor leaders being assassinated. Perhaps my favorite moment of the night, though, was seeing McCain sarcastically dismiss the “health” of the mother—yes, he even used air quotes—as a reason for allowing third-trimester abortions. Now that’s pro-life!