Joe the Plumber Angry at McCain, Palin
Wurzelbacher touched on several different points during his speech, and many of them were surprising. He said he doesn’t support Sarah Palin anymore. Why? Because she’s backing John McCain’s re-election effort. “John McCain is no public servant,” he told the room, calling the 2008 Republican nominee a career politician.
I pointed out he’d just be plain old Sam Wurzelbacher of Ohio — Joe the Plumber wouldn’t exist — without McCain. His response was blunt. “I don’t owe him s—. He really screwed my life up, is how I look at it.”
Wurzelbacher said, “McCain was trying to use me. I happened to be the face of middle Americans. It was a ploy.”
So why’s he still milking the Joe the Plumber image, appearing at conservative events across the country? Wurzelbacher says it’s his duty to take advantage of the platform he’s been given. He wants to talk up the issues he cares about, and encourage the grassroots tea party movement.
Wurzelbacher also told the room to lay off the extreme personal attacks on President Obama. He said people who question whether Obama was born in the United States or compare him to Hitler “belittle and set back” the conservative movement. “The birthers, the truthers — if people are trying to bunch them [with tea partiers], that would kill us. That just pushes away Democrats and independents who might come out for our cause otherwise.” He said he actually likes Obama, in some ways. “I think his ideology is un-American, but he’s one of the more honest politicians. At least he told us what he wanted to do.”
It’s an amusing spectacle. On the one hand, McCain gave him a huge platform that he’s taking advantage of; on the other, McCain ruined his life. On one hand, we shouldn’t say outrageous things about Obama; on the other, his ideology is un-American.
As to McCain, he did spend a quarter century in the Navy, several years of which were spent in an enemy prison camp. But, yes, he’s been on the national political scene even longer and if you reflexively hate politicians, there’s not much denying McCain is one.
But this is all the predictable result of the Joe the Plumberization of the Republican Party. It’s one thing to exploit populist angst as a means of motivating voter turnout and distinguishing yourself from the opposition party. It’s quite another to embrace reflexive anger as the face of the movement. Not only does it not have an intellectual core, which some might say is a feature rather than a bug, but it ultimately stands for nothing. And, inevitably, that anger will be directed back at the party. Because, after all, Republicans who get elected to office become politicians, too.