Meet Joe the Plumber
Joe Wurzelbacher, a/k/a “Joe the Plumber,” took up an inordinate amount of time at last night’s debate, to the annoyance of many. CBS reports that:
McCain and Obama mentioned Wurzelbacher 26 times during the 90 minute debate. By contrast, Iraq came up six times, and the word “economy” was used 16 times.
As Megan McArdle put it in her live blog, “I am second to none in my appreciation of the many contributions that plumbers make to Our American Way of Life. Nonetheless, I am slightly concerned that we are spending so much time focusing on the effect of our national policy on Plumbing-Americans.”
Ezra Klein observed that the repeated references made McCain sound “like your great-grandfather telling you about his childhood milkman.” He also points out that “the United Association of Plumbers and Pipe Fitters was one of the first unions to endorse Obama.”
While we bloggers may be tired of him already, however, the mainstream press is fascinated. His hometown Toledo Blade did a nice feature on him.
Mr. Wurzelbacher, 34, was more interested in taking in the debate than in assessing his place in presidential politics.
“Honestly, I’m a small part of it,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said. “They’re just using me as an example right now for the American public. I think they’re discussing more important issues.” He excused himself so he could finish watching Barack Obama and John McCain debate.
Afterwards, even he was tired of hearing about Joe the Plumber.
But after the debate, Mr. Wurzelbacher expressed some embarrassment that he was now known across America as Joe the Plumber. “There’s a lot more important issues than me, and I’m starting to feel a little uncomfortable with it,” he said. “Everyone’s more worried about what Joe the Plumber has to say than what Obama or McCain has to say.”
While watching the debate at home with his father, he was interrupted several times by calls from the national media including CNN, Fox News, and Good Morning America. In addition, CNBC, ABC News, the Wall Street Journal, the Houston Chronicle, and the BBC called The Blade in their quest to reach Joe the Plumber.
Joe goes video:
The Blade also recaps the incident that generated his 15-plus minutes of fame.
Mr. Wurzelbacher and Mr. Obama had something of a debate Sunday as the candidate walked house to house on Shrewsbury at the start of the candidate’s four-day visit in the Toledo area. He told Mr. Obama that he was trying to buy a plumbing business. “I’m being taxed more and more for fulfilling the American dream,” Mr. Wurzelbacher said Sunday.
Mr. Obama said, in part, “It’s not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody that is behind you, that they have a chance for success, too.”I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
The exchange was caught on videotape and was broadcast on a variety of news outlets and put on numerous Web sites, including YouTube. It was the “spread the wealth around” comment that caught the attention of conservative commentators, including Rush Limbaugh, and in discussions on the Internet. Mr. Wurzelbacher was a guest of Fox News’ Neil Cavuto on Tuesday.
Apparently, Joe didn’t mind the media attention too much, since he agreed to talk with Katie Couric after the debate. He makes a truly insightful point here:
COURIC: Well, he supposedly will raise taxes only on people who make over $250,000 a year. Would you be in that category?
WURZELBACHER: Not right now at presently, but, you know, question, so he’s going to do that now for people who make $250,000 a year. When’s he going to decide that $100,000 is too much, you know? I mean, you’re on a slippery slope here. You vote on somebody who decides that $250,000 and you’re rich? And $100,000 and you’re rich? I mean, where does it end? You know, that’s – people got to ask that question.
They do indeed.
He was at it again on ABC’s Nightline:
“Joe The Plumber” has weighed in on Wednesday’s presidential debate and he says that Barack Obama’s tax plan “infuriates me.”
“To be honest with you, that infuriates me,” plumber Joe Wurzelbacher told Nightline’s Terry Moran. “It’s not right for someone to decide you made too much—that you’ve done too good and now we’re going to take some of it back.” “That’s just completely wrong,” he added.
During his telephone interview with ABC News, the Ohio plumber argued that the government should not tax some Americans at a higher percentage than others and argued that this principle should extend not only to taxpayers at his income-level but also to the world’s richest man.
“I don’t like it,” said Wurzelbacher. “You know, me or — you know, Bill Gates, I don’t care who you are. If you worked for it, if it was your idea, and you implemented it, it’s not right for someone to decide you made too much.”
I hereby take back my threat to punch this guy in the nose. Indeed, maybe McCain should announce his intention to nominate Wurzelbacher for Treasury Secretary. We’ve had worse.