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Posted by on Oct 16, 2008 in At TMV | 26 comments

(Updated) Joe The Plumber Springs A Leak


I am a great believer in making one’s own luck, but at this point John McCain can’t catch a break.

His invocation during the debate of Joe “The Plumber” Wurzelbacher was a winner, but Joe promptly threw a wet blanket over that modest coup in telling CBS News that Barack Obama’s response to a question that he had posed about the economy had left him feeling uneasy:

“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 . . . Almost as good as Sammy Davis Jr.”

Ouch, ouch, ouch!

Wait. It get’s better.

Joe says that his exposure hasn’t yet resulted in getting more work, but that might be a problem because he doesn’t have a plumbing license. He claims he doesn’t need one because he only does residential work, but that doesn’t smell right.

Methinks that Joe will end up being relieved when his 15 minutes of fame are over.

Photograph by Jim Young/Reuters Click here for reuse options!
Copyright 2008 The Moderate Voice
  • DLS
  • DLS, that is an extremely unflattering picture of Senator McCain. What mad him react like that?

    A picture’s worth a thousand words indeed… YIKES!

  • elrod

    Reuters had that picture up. I saw McCain make that gesture after the debate and thought it was funny. The picture looks like Grandpa Munster.

  • elrod

    Comparing Barack Obama to Sammy Davis Jr. is probably not going to sell Joe the Plumber is a serious pundit.

    In fact, it seems that Joe Wurzelbacher is a typical Republican in many ways: wealthy and not very well-educated. He admits that he doesn’t fall into the $250,000 tax bracket but he “worries” that the tax-hike threshold would drop under Obama. He offers no reason for worrying about that other than, well, years of GOP talking points.

  • SteveK

    Thanks DLS… for some reason the picture reminded me of one of my favorite comic strips… “Calvin and Hobbs”. 🙂

  • PWT

    From the piece you quote, I’d think that Joe the Plumber was talking about both candidates. From the original article, it is clear that he is referring only to Obama and thus, would be throwing the wet blanket on Obama and not McCain. That’s just my reading. Like a sunday school teacher on monday…

  • CStanley

    In fact, it seems that Joe Wurzelbacher is a typical Republican

    Is that anything like a typical white person?

  • Not the typical “insert your color” person line! That’s one phrase I wish was never uttered.

  • CStanley

    I can’t even keep count of all of the phrases that I wish were never uttered, or never uttered ad nauseum as they have been in this loooooong campaign.

    “Throw him under the bus”

    “Not the ….I thought I knew”

    “Hearbeat away from the presidency”

    “Fire in the belly” (an oldie)

    “Lipstick on a pig”

    “Change we can believe in”

    “Change we need”

    “Ready to lead on day one”

    “Answering the 3 am phone call”

    “Not ready to lead”

    “Country first”

    Ugh….my head hurts, time to take a good long break from blogging.

  • elrod

    By “typical Republican” I mean somebody who thinks he’ll be rich some day if not for the big bad mean liberals taking his money away through taxes.

    That Joe does not pay his taxes, hates Social Security, and has no plumbing license (probably doesn’t want to spend the money) makes him the kind of guy who tries to get rich on the sly. I know people like this in my wife’s family. And they are a vital part of the Republican base.

    • PWT

      To save time in the future just call him a “cracker”.

  • superdestroyer


    Joe is probably old enough to remember that Clinton promised not to raise taxes (to fund his programs). I did not recall hearing the word “Parse” until Clinton became president.

    Maybe Joe is just parsing what Senator Obama has said.

  • Newest bit of Joe-info: the infamous Joe the plumber is actually related to Charles Keating. Sound too ridiculous? Here’s a McCain supporter:

    Not sure if he’s the “typical Republican”, but something tells me he wasn’t an undecided.

  • Rambie

    SD, the word “parse” is hardly new and was used way before President Clinton. Perhaps not in a political sense. In the hope of not sounding to elite is a link to the Webster’s site on the word Parse.

  • Plus, Joe the plumber doesn’t pay his taxes. Joe is not only related to Keating, he is himself a fraud and a crook. He bashes Social Security, which doesn’t play well in Florida. Bad pick, McCain. Really bad pick. (removed: the assertion that he’s not a registered voter. apparently he is.)

    But you know what? We don’t need any guilt by association to win this one big. How stupid of McCain to bet his last chance on an unvetted and unsympathetic character. On the other hand, unlike Sarah Palin (another bad unvetted pick), Joe the plumber IS giving press conferences.

    • RememberNovember

      ironically, He would get a tax break that would even out his outstanding tax debt.

  • Slamfu

    “That Joe does not pay his taxes, hates Social Security, and has no plumbing license (probably doesn’t want to spend the money) makes him the kind of guy who tries to get rich on the sly. I know people like this in my wife’s family. And they are a vital part of the Republican base.”

    Truer words have never been written here.

  • rudi

    CS I wonder how many of your relatives were lynched for whistling at a black woman? Or if your marriage to a black man would be illegal in many states?

  • superdestroyer

    Small business men always hate social security because they have to pay both haves of the bill. An independent businessman would, if he is totally honest, end up paying over 14% in Social Security taxes of the first $90K. the small businessman also cannot expense the social security against his income taxes.

    That is why most small business men end up cheating on their taxes by not paying themselves for their family member a salary. that way they get to avoid all of the payroll taxes. Of course, in the coming Obama Administration it will become even more advantageous to cheat on our taxes.

    I have always suspect that the success of Korean owned cleaners or Vietnamese owned nail salons is partially built on cheating on taxes and the ability to mix personal expenses with living expenses.

  • DLS

    Howdy, T. The photo was showing McCain’s reaction when he realized he was going the wrong way around the furniture to get to the front of the stage at the debate.

    (Is that a metaphor — “wrong way” — for what the voters think of the GOP. Could be.)

  • DLS

    For the record, Elrod, I refer to Obama and Biden routinely as “Sammy and Dean-o” because they have appealed greatly to emotion (marketing savvy, to be more explicit) this year, and there’s not one thing racist about me or my saying that. (Do you really want Obama and “three-letter word, J-O-B-S” Biden to be agitated and inhibited like McCain* or dyslexic like Dubya?)

    * McCain’s problems include physical problems from his torture years ago. No escape from that, sadly.

  • DLS

    Super D: I’ve lived and traveled all over North America. (OK, you’ve heard that before. Read on.) I grew up in the Bay Area and one year in school, then seven years after school I lived in Southern California. That included working with Koreans in addition to Vietnamese and Chinese and everything else you could name. (We used to snicker at what the Iowa people thought when they visited.) I suspect if you asked them, you’d find references to working eighteen-hour-plus days as the real secret to getting their businesses going. That and of course child labor, though hardly brutal or evilly exploitive. (What’s wrong with kids working in family businesses, for crying out loud?)

  • DLS

    Did it occur to any of you lefties that maybe Joe the Plumber was conscripted because the Sarah Palin swoon has expired? No, you’re too busy bashing in the same old tiresome way.

    By the way, Green Dreams, I don’t like Social Security as it is today. Unlike so many of my critics, I know the program is a poor investment substitute, and much more importantly, unlike my critics, I know the program as it is, is unsustainable, and I’ve tried bringing that fact to people’s attention, with either ignorance as a response or dishonest denial (and worse self-destructive behavior on the part of those critics). I’ve even advocated the kind of tax increase that is actually needed to sustain the program — assuming benefits won’t be reduced, and in fact I’m on record as saying there likely will be a demand for increased benefits later once the Baby Boomers actually age en masse. (See “replacement ratio” and “insufficient” if researching.)

  • DLS

    Rudi — times have changed since the 1960s and the hangover in the South going into the 1970s. (You can read accounts as I have, for example, Ezell Ware’s, the account of a Vietnam War helicopter gunship pilot who was black and saved the life of a racist West Virginian captain when they crashed in the jungle in Vietnam. Eyes down, never look at a white girl or woman, don’t initiate conversation with whites, etc.)

    It’s different now, in case you haven’t noticed. (It’s different in Detroit, even!!!)

  • DLS our entire lifestyle is unsustainable. For now, we have millions of retirement age folks who have paid into this program their whole lives and they are depending on it for their retirement. I’m not in favor of the United States breaking its promise to its citizens. It’s projected that Social Security will go to bust in about 75 years. As I’ve noted before, we have no idea what the economic situation will be 75 years from now. It is not an imminent crisis, and in this troubling economic time, there’s no reason or sense in altering yet. However, if the Republicans want to lose Florida by suggesting that we privatize it, well I’m all for them trying.

    Consider too, what would have happened if we had privatized Social Security, further depleting its reserves and plowing people’s retirement benefits into the stock market. We’d be bailing them out right now, or do we expect them to live in a cardboard box and eat cat food?

  • UnaffiliatedIndie

    Forget the character attacks, however deserved or not. Let’s deal with the actual issue that was raised. Here’s a relevant excerpt from the (very) conservative Wall Street Journal article of OCTOBER 17, 2008, ‘As Joe the Plumber Grows Famous, the Politics Get Murkier’:

    “To reach a level that would be affected by Sen. Obama’s proposed tax increase, Mr. Smither said, a mom-and-pop plumbing company like Newell would have to clear $5 million in annual sales. [Joe’s company actually reports only $100,000 in sales.]

    Even if Mr. Wurzelbacher reaped taxable income from his business of $280,000 a
    year, he’d pay only about $900 more a year in taxes under Sen. Obama’s plan, which
    would raise the tax rate on the income between $250,000 and $280,000 to 36%
    from 33%.


    If Mr. Wurzelbacher earns the wages of a typical Ohio plumber, $40,600, and holds a $90,000 mortgage, he would see a TAX CUT (emphasis added) under Sen. Obama’s plan of more than $1,000, compared with no tax reduction under Sen. McCain’s.

    If he succeeds in buying the plumbing business where he works, he could see even more tax benefits, including Sen. Obama’s proposed elimination of capital-gains taxes for small-business investment, a 50% tax credit to purchase health insurance for employees and a $3,000 tax credit for every new hire over the next two years.”

    Yep … facts are pesky things.

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