John McCain hung his final presidential debate performance on an Ohio plumber who campaign aides never vetted.
A day after making Joseph Wurzelbacher famous, referencing him in the debate almost two dozen times as someone who would pay higher taxes under Barack Obama, McCain learned the fine print Thursday on the plumber’s not-so-tidy personal story: He owes back taxes. He is not a licensed plumber. And it turns out that Wurzelbacher makes less than $250,000 a year, which means he would receive a tax cut if Obama were elected president.
The selection of Sarah Palin as McCain’s running-mate isn’t looking like such an aberration anymore.
But the really weird thing today is that McCain and his backers are still talking about Joe the Plumber as though his story is not only legitimate, but iconic. As I noted yesterday, this is a particularly extreme example of the eternal Republican effort to put a middle-class face on fisal policies designed to relieve the wealthy of tax liabilities. Having found their white-male-from-Ohio poster boy for regressive taxes, they aren’t going to let go of him even though he’s pretty much a fraud. Indeed, some are even using ol’ Joe to reinforce the mood of self-pity and victimization that has infected conservatism so profoundly this year. Here’s the reliably obnoxious Michelle Malkin:
Obama-Biden simply can’t tolerate an outspoken citizen successfully painting the Democratic ticket as socialist overlords. And so a dirty, desperate war against Joe Wurzelbacher is on.
The left’s political plumbers are attacking the messenger, rummaging through his personal life and predictably wielding the race card once again. It’s standard operating procedure for the Obama thug machine.
So here’s a guy who gets himself on televison (and right-wing talk radio) by making up an imaginary identity for himself and confronting a presidential candidate with a pack of lies. John McCain refers to him twenty-one times in a debate, as though his gripping tale of fiscal woe provides the irrefutable evidence of Obama’s socialist perfidy. And anyone who has an issue with that is a “thug.”
Why not just design an avatar and name it “White Working Class Voter” and parade it across the airwaves? Come to think of it, that’s pretty much what Joe the Plumber has become.