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Oct 16, 2008

Plumbing The Truth

Joe The Plumber

I don't think I could add any better visual analysis to Jim Young's photo than the comments of Joe Wurzelbacher himself.

Joe the (unlicensed) plumber's two money quotes to the NYT include:

“You know, I’ve always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question....”
“I’m kind of like Britney Spears having a headache.”

By the way, the extended quote on the first comment helps flesh out and inform Joe's expression in the photo -- squinty Joe in the white light and the earnest Obama literally in the dark.  From The Times:

“You know, I’ve always wanted to ask one of these guys a question and really corner them and get them to answer a question ... for once instead of tap dancing around it. And unfortunately I asked the question, but I still got a tap dance.”

He added, “Almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.”

Shades of Mark Halperin's post back in March, Wurzelbacher's intent to "corner" the celebrity tap dancer was motivated by racism.  If the McCain campaign had done it's homework before tossing this guy into the national spotlight -- and whether they did or they didn't is a bit concerning either way -- you'd think the chip on Wurzelbacher's shoulder would have been pretty easy to flush out.

Joe in the Spotlight (NYT/The Caucus)

(image: Jim Young/Reuters. Toledo, Ohio, October 2008)


It's truly sad that this man is so stupid that he got the real answer and imagined it was a tap dance. Particularly as the answer is already well-known to anyone wanting to hear it and didn't require Obama to answer it. I'm always amazed when people imagine that they have some killer question to ask politicians, when usually it's something they've addressed a million times. As if this guy really thought Obama would say "Gee, I hadn't thought of that before. I guess my tax policy really would screw you over if you bought that business. Sorry about that. Perhaps I'm not the right guy for the job after all." I'm sure that's the only answer he'd accept.

It's also sad that if this guy really wants to own his own business (which he's now admitted won't be happening any time soon), Obama is the guy to have in the Whitehouse. Somehow, wannabe rich guys like Joe still haven't figured out that GOP tax policies only benefit those who are already rich. They don't help you become rich. And the Republicans want to make sure that the "free market" won't let that happen.

The McCain campaign's sloppiness is now their discipline.

Does it strike you that the background viewers here are so "red, white and blue" color coordinated? Does that say that Obama was doing the color coordinating or does this remind you of Florida's mob of screaming surrogates again...

It's just plain fishy to me.

Ohio's real slogan should be the cold, dead heart of racism. Joe, the Republican plant, is framed by his fat-faced red, blustering brethren, while serving as a pretty accurate spokesmodel for all that is wrong in the land of the poisonous nut.

You can't imagine how awful that place is for anyone with a brain and humanity.

I have a question about the Plumber Joe issue.. and the taxing of small business that make over $250,000. Is the $250,000 in the premise of the question income or profit? It make a really HUGE difference as to how I feel about it. Nobody addressed that. If they are talking about a business that brings in $250,000 but only makes a 5% profit overall - or is just breaking even - then raising taxes on these businesses seems harmful. If they are talking about businesses that are showing a bottom line profit of $250,000 -- then they can afford to pay for employees healthcare and chip in a little extra tax.

so.. does anyone know the answer?

(Sorry this is only indirectly about the photo - but I think it is a very important question)

I have read some blog posts about Joe the Plumber, but I have not watched any of the video, because I just do not want to feel any more dismay at the polarization of Americans. It may have been a crack before the current administration, but it is bigger than the Grand Canyon now, and it scares me to death. I do not want to dislike Joe the Plumber, and I feel I would if I watched his "press conference".

For what it's worth, Mr. dks ran the Obama Tax Calculator I got in my inbox the other day, and we would get $1600.00 more back under the Obama plan. And we are not poor - we will be making over $100K next year. We have a good life, with all the good things we want. We feel grateful for what we have, and we want more people to have the things we do like a nice house with nice furnishings, paid-for cars, computers, cell phones, books...even two televisions. Our kids are college-educated (the eldest getting her Master's in Dec., the baby at an Ivy League college), we enjoy our civic involvement, we go to parties, we can afford locally created art, and we even have help cleaning our house occasionally. We are more than willing to "spread our wealth around" a little, but under Obama's plan, we will even be getting more. When we started our family 34 years ago, we never dreamed we would ever be so blessed.

I just don't get the anger and the hate, especially in the face of the possibility that we might all be working harder for less in the next few years. It's time to get back to the old-fashioned virtue of living as a community, overlooking the faults of others so they will do the same for us, sharing out of our surplus, and just being damn grateful for being Americans.


Obama is talking about increasing taxes on those earning $250,000 NET. If your business brings in $1,000,000, but "only" nets $100,000 after payroll, rent, insurance and such, your taxes would not go up, but would in fact go down. From ABC News:

"Obama's higher taxes on small businesses would be leveled against those whose net profits exceed $250,000 per year, according to Obama's campaign.

"While at least 184,000 small businesses would face higher taxes under Obama, the Illinois Democrat is also proposing a series of tax credits that could aid small businesses.

"Obama has proposed a $3,000 tax credit for every new job that companies create in the United States over the next two years, a small business health tax credit on up to 50 percent of employee premiums paid by employers, and elimination of capital gains taxes on investments in small and start-up businesses.

"Regardless of how Wurzelbacher would personally fare under the candidates' plans, he suggested to ABC News' Nightline that he is against all forms of progressive taxation."

With regard to the photo -- I wouldn't generalize about the crowd behind Sen. Obama -- they could well be supporters, or independents trying to make up their minds -- or just folks who want to see and hear the next President of the United States.

OTOH, Joe the Plumber, who McCain misrepresented last night as someone who couldn't afford to buy a business because it made too much money -- says he isn't ready to buy the business now anyway, isn't a licensed plumber, and seems to want it all without working his way up. In word, and deed, he appears to be one of those "oh so sure of himself" right-wing types at whom the Sarah Palin pick was aimed. Those "qualities" seem to come across in the above photo.

Now, let's see how well Joe tap-dances with his "Britney Spears" headache.

Gasho, I think your question could be answered by this Bloomberg piece. Your question seems to conflate personal income and business revenue. If you have your own business, the best person to answer your question is, probably, your accountant. In the case of an individual, I think the benchmark is your taxable income; income net of tax allowances. But, please note, I am neither an accountant, nor a tax preparer.

Liked how much the two were mirrors, and opposites, of each other.

Light shirt/dark shirt
Dark skin/light skin

But then they were kinda the same, too. The angle of Mr. Wurzelbacher's skull matching the Sen. Obama's hairline, the intent, direct gazes. Very yin and yang.

Other read of the picture: Sen. Obama's existence is shining a bright light on middle Americans. We're seeing ourselves clearly for the first time in a long while.

I love the body language.

Joe is defensively-braced... tense?... scowling. (looks like he's about two seconds from throwing a punch...)
Barack is serious, open-armed, open-handed... head leaning a bit toward Joe... but he's also not backing down one inch. Scene is tense, but rings true....captures something about contemporary race relations.

I actually love the photo. Think it makes Barack look great.
(and even Joe doesn't come off looking so bad... salt of the earth and all that.)

Hi Bag. I liked that took note of the shadows and sunlight in the photo, and how this is a weirdly perfect metaphor for the problems. Every now and then nature gives us a clue, lol.

BTW, I wrote a unique and very funny post that still gets the points across, this morning that I invite you and your readers to check out. I think you'll really like it. ~ Kit

What About Jamal The Plumber?

Compared to how Joe W. has appeared in other news outlets, this is a particularly unflattering view of him -- makes him look burly, threatening, solid, squinting in the glaring sun. Opposed to him we get Obama, leaning in, his gestures expressing an effort to make himself clear. Seen just as an isolated image, it's giving us Barack Obama trying to make a connection with a skinhead, who remains unmoved as granite, while a representative sample of middle America looks on.

If "Joe the Plumber" had not walked into the path of the cameras of his own volition, the McCain campaign would have had to invent him. For starters, his existence gives them a name to replace "Joe Six-pack," which is a problematic term for them -- the Christianist element of Palin's people tend to bristle a bit at the "six-pack" part, most of them being very much opposed to drinking. Instead we now have not just a great new generic Joe, but a real live everyman with a face we can look into. It helps that his face is not unlike like a younger, more bulked-up McCain -- watch the brow line and the expressions in the MSNBC video. He's pro-war, pro-Jesus, suspicious of the media. He speaks well, too, articulating on the fly just the things that the McCain campaign has been saying that real Americans believe (no apologies for America, we don't owe anyone anything, I want to own my own money, etc.). If they had had a chance to vet him, I think the McCain people would be making just as much of him as they did anyways. So what if he's not been paying his taxes? He's a patriot and that was his money anyways. Not a union man? Not playing by the rules that govern his trade? How is that a problem, when McCain wants us all to believe that what we all need is less regulation at every level? Joe's problems are all the damn liberals' fault.

I'm curious about Joe the Plumber. OK - is he a guy that just on impulse decided to approach a politician in his neighborhood? Or did he go in with "Gotcha" in mind? Did McCain ask him if he could invoke him on national TV? Did McCain consult him, let him know what he was in for?

I don't have a problem with him asking Obama the question, even if he is a voter already decided for McCain. People like the spotlight, whatver, it's OK.

But I'm curious whether McCain notified him he was about to be a media darling - and then, as a logical step from there, whether they prepped him for his morning-after interviews.

IMHO, it's kinda shitty for McCain to use a guy whose impulse - no matter his motivation - thrust him suddenly into the national spotlight.

Here's an amazing photo of McCain. I would be suprised if you have not seen it, but if not I certainly would like you comments. It seems so damning. Do you think its real?

nstemm asked if this rel="nofollow">photo of McCain, was real.

Probably. McCain at times shows an almost antic physical comedy which might be amusing on late night tv, but doesn't serve him at all well now. Similar to his "Exit stage right" when he was blocking Brokaw's teleprompter.

A p.s. on "Joe" the "plumber." It's widely reported now that neither he nor his contractor/employer are licensed to do any plumbing in their working county. Every time we see McCain, we see a new fraud.

nstemm and harrier, the photo to which you refer was discussed in the thread two posts back, if you're still interested. Here's the link.

From Huff Post-you can't make this stuff up.

Well, it turns out he's the one gliding around the dance floor so much, you should expect to see him soon on "Dancing with the Stars."

You see, Joe Wurzelbacher is apparently related to Robert Wurzelbacher. Who is the son-in-law of (are you ready...?) Charles Keating!

Yes, that Charles Keating. The Charles Keating of the Keating 5 Scandal. For which John McCain was reprimanded by the United States Senate, for his involvement in attempting to illegally influence government regulators. The Charles Keating who John McCain has been trying to avoid have mentioned. So, he basically mentioned it 24 times.

bystander wrote: "nstemm and harrier, the photo to which you refer was discussed in the thread two posts back, if you're still interested. Here's the link."

Thanks, bystander. Though I wonder if our missing a few posts in a another thread was worth mentioning.

McCain certainly has the most bizarre body language, and running mate, in anyone's recollection.

Samuel Joe, the unlicensed plumber admitted in a Diane Sawyer interview that he was in contact with the McCain campaign before meeting with Obama.

The guy is a GOP plant, and this little stunt is starting to backfire.

Messege to're damn right it's class warfare. Keep up that kind of talk, and you will incite it.

Looking back at the interview, hindsight being 20/20, the better picture would be Joe wiping the sweat from his brow as he asks his question(s). Granted they are standing in the sun, but once again you see our man calmly addressing a concerned citizenry. "Joe" on the other hand, much like his candidate, is unable mask his true emotions and has his #s all wrong.

Barack nailed it as he walked away and said " good practice for the debate...".

The third debate was already over and nobody told John.

ref : “how much the two [are] mirrors, and [yet] opposites, of [one an]other.

superb insight, Megan.

imho, the image transcends the trivial "issue" of tax rates, apparent to us now ~ and when viewed many years hence it will symbolize (perhaps as no other image, it may well be the icon, thus) the historic moment of now : being that long-awaited, longed-for meeting of all of us black + white = men much more potent than the simple sum of disparate = un-equal beings, struggling to be an US.

...and the Whole World is Watching.

EXPOSED: Obama the Socialist. That is the headline that we won't be seeing. Barack tried to dodge and duck, and then let the cat out of the bag.

He is a Marxist, pure and simple. His liberal media buddies are spinning desparately to cover that fact up. It's not working.

"niemanmarxist copycat"

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