In Final Debate, the Tyranny of “Joe” Continues

| 10/16/2008 7:55:30 AM

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!

Cally Carswell
10/16/2008 3:06:11 PM

According to a Toledo paper, he's also a registered Republican. But who really cares? I don't see anything extraordinary, revelatory, or particularly unique about this guy's story and perspective to merit this much attention. If all John McCain was looking for was an "average" guy who's not a big fan of Obama, I'm sure there are lots of them out there who disagree with Obama for legitimate reasons. Not being in a tax bracket that would see higher rates under an Obama administration but being worried that one day you might be, or arguing that the $250,000 threshold is somehow a "slippery slope" are pretty weak criticisms. I am at loss as to why this guy is newsworthy.

Bennett Gordon
10/16/2008 2:34:50 PM

Joe might not be the winner after all. The New York Times is reporting that he "does not hold a license. He also has never served an apprenticeship and does not belong to the union." Oh yeah, and he owes money in back taxes. Ouch.

Danielle Maestretti_1
10/16/2008 8:37:06 AM

Seems Joe the Plumber might be breaking ranks with his union. Ezra Klein pointed out that the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters endorsed Obama back in January:

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