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The General vs. The Plumber

15

The Christian Science Monitor has an interesting article looking at the effect of Colin Powell’s endorsement versus Joe the Plumber’s symbolic resonance. Do people care more about the decision of a statesman or about the concerns of an aspiring small businessman?

The CSM article gives both sides of the story. But, as far as I’m concerned, Republicans’ fascination with Joe Wurzelbacher borders on the bizarre. I mean, it’s fine to give the guy credit for tripping up Barack Obama and prompting the Democratic candidate to admit that sharing the wealth is more important to him than rewarding success. But what’s with treating Joe the Plumber like he’s some Peter the Fisherman called up from his humble life to serve a higher power? The man expressed an opinion on taxation. That’s it.

Joe Wurzelbacher makes an adequate symbol of the small businessman’s concerns, and he certainly hasn’t deserved the kind of invasion of privacy and snide treatment he’s received from certain segments of the left. But the John McCain campaign’s obsession with this man is fundamentally unserious. I’m glad McCain is finally hitting Obama on taxes, but I’m sorry he’s felt the need to rely on an insta-celebrity and not on a more serious repudiation of Obama’s tax plan.

I guess it’s too late in the campaign to expect McCain to delve into the details of tax policy, or to expect the media to care. But this deification of Joe the Plumber by McCain and his conservative allies has left me wondering if they even take themselves seriously anymore. A political party really shouldn’t have to rely on a plumber from Ohio to make their case. I’m sorry if I sound elitist, but an endorsement from a general and former Secretary of State means more.