Joe the Plumber Steals the Show

Joe the Plumber stole the limelight at last night's presidential debate between Barack Obama and John McCain. Who is Joe the Plumber? What is his relation to Joe Six-Pack? And what has he got to do with the elections? Bloggers from around the world weigh in.

Puerto Rican Vivirlatino accuses Joe the Plumber of being racist:

Joe the Plumber was the estrella of last night's debate, with his name being thrown around left, right, and sideways. CBS interviewed the man of the hour, Joe the plumber and it turns out he's kind of racist, no? I mean I know “tap dancin around an issue” is a figure of speech pero then when he adds the whole Sammy Davis Jr. line into it, no se, it kind of takes it to a different level.

Writing at OpenDemocracy, Guy Aitchison notes how Joe the Plumber was a constant in last night's debate:

At certain points last night it felt like there were three people taking part in the debate: Obama, McCain and one “Joe the Plumber”. Joe first popped up during a discussion of Obama's tax plan and later during the discussion on healthcare. At each mention of his name the candidates would turn sincerely to the camera and explain how they had Joe's best interests at heart.

He further asks:

Was Joe the creation of clever pollsters? Were there thousands of Joe the Plumbers out there, people who would swing this election like the “security moms” supposedly did last time round? Perhaps he was simply the product of McCain's panicked imagination (he is erratic you know).  Was this new Joe any relation to “Joe six-pack”? Perhaps they were one and the same.

Waking up the next morning, Aitchison discovers that Joe the Plumber really exists – and isn't a fictional character like his namesake Joe Six-Pack:

I discovered that Joe is very much real (something I expect oD USA readers knew all along). His full name is Joe Wurzelbacher and he comes from Ohio. It was a discussion with him last Sunday that prompted Obama to speak the four short words that so disgusted Fox News readers: “spread the wealth around”. After last night's debate Joe is apparently still unconvinced that Obama's tax plan won't punish small businesses like his.

(And a commentator on this post argues that Joe isn't even registered to vote.)

Malcolm Clark, blogging at SixFifty, from the UK, draws our attention to another Joe moment in the debate which has been closely followed on and offline:

One of the clips of the night, and quite a laugh – if you’re not McCain or a Republican supporter – comes from McCain’s reaction in the health insurance segment to hearing Obama say “Joe plumber’s fine would be zero”.   That moment has now been nicknamed McCain’s “deer in headlights” moment. See for yourself here.  Politics can be cruel.  And with all this new technology now at people’s fingertips, it can be even crueller, even quicker!

Other quotes from SixFifty on Joe the Plumber include:

Super stuff via Twitter: wabisabi says: “turns out the plumbers have already endorsed Obama.” And links to this story on the plumbing union backing Obama.

“Joe the plumber” is a lucky guy.  He is the centre of this debate on the economic rescue package, and all for asking a question to Obama at a campaign event some weeks ago.  

“Is Joe the plumber and Joe-6-pack the same person?” asks someone on CNN.  Interestingly, the response seems to be (apart from someone better register “joe the plumber” as a domain, trade name, put it on vans etc), ‘I wanted it to be more about me and the issues, not about joe”.

Everyone’s talking about … Joe the plumber.  “A whiff of absurdity” about how much he turned up says a commentator on BBC Radio 5 Live.  A CNN analyst said that McCain’s repeated mentions of him went OTT and seemed contrived and possibly counter-productive.

Still in the UK, England for Obama says:

In yaddering on about “Joe the plumber”, McCain totally and utterly wasted time and energy on a story which most of the American viewing public probably had no clue about. Which only adds to his ‘out of touch’ aura.

But for Michael van der Galien, writing at Poligazette from the Netherlands, says bringing Joe into the equating was a winning point for McCain:

Quite some pundits and commentators have talked about the “Joe the Plummer” aspect of the debate. Although it is easy to make fun of Joe, and of bringing it up time and again, I believe that this is a winner issue for John McCain. Obama made a major mistake by telling Joe that he wanted to “spread the wealth around.” When confronted with it during the debate, Obama made clear that he does indeed want to redistribute wealth.

Back to the UK with Rupa Huq, who notes:

Obama was accused of early on in this whole circus plaigarising Bob the Builder early on with the “yes we can” slogan. The theme of allied building trades was continued in yesterday’s Presidential debate with the floundering John McCain raising the character of Joe the Plumber, a supposed US everyman Obama met on the campaign trail who is being courted by rightwing media, to demonstrate to what extent Democrat policies equate with redistributive socialism. Despite the hoo-ha it looks like the US plumbing union has come out for Obama. A pro-Obama t-shirt starring the bloke himself is also doing the rounds.

And Englishman in New York points us to the discussion which took place between Obama and Joe the Plumber:

Since Joe the plumber played such a big role in last night’s debate, you might be interested in taking a look at his exchange with Obama earlier in the day. (Via Daily Intel.)

Canadian Andrew Hunt felt the Joe the Plumber card was overplayed and says:

Last night's debate was the most exciting of the three debates. Lots of verbal sparring. Plenty of tough talk. John McCain could not let go of “Joe the Plumber.” Barack Obama kept his cool.

While from Guyana, Providence Stadium remarks:

Joe the Plummer and Joe Sixpack got a lot of mention whoever they are.


  • Yamaka

    “Joe the Plumber”, who may or may not be a licensed plumber in Ohio, helped to bring the difference in the political philosophy of Obama and McCain.

    Obama is for the Redistribution of Wealth by taxing the “Small Businesses”.

    McCain is for the Creation of new wealth in America.

    This is a powerful contrast in this Presidential Election in USA.

    Most Americans will prefer creation of new wealth over redistribution of wealth, for most Americans are entrepreneurial capitalists – not Socialists or Marxist or Maoist. Will the Democratic Party understand the danger lurking under the surface?

  • [email protected]

    JOE THE NON-UNION, UNLISCENED, SCAB PLUMBER gives a bad name for Unionized Journeymen plumbers.

    Using McCain’s 6-Day 10hr shifts Joe could have made in excess of $250,000.00 WITHOUT EVEN OWNING THE BUSINESS!

    You say how? An PRIMARY “A” DIVISION JOURNEYMEN in LOCAL #1 makes $80.26 per hr (including benefits) X 6 days a week 10 hrs a day = $3,210.40 Regular Time + 20 hrs OT @ $120.29 = $2405.80 = $5616.20 x 52= $292,042.40!

    So JOE THE “SCAB” PLUMBER could pay his TAXES and get a new van if he was a PROUD AMERICAN “A” DIVISION JOURNEYMEN in LOCAL #1.

    Don’t believe the numbers? Call the Joint board and check!

    (718) 752-9630 or I can post a link to the wages.


    Vote Union Today = OBAMA 2008!

  • celeste

    It makes me so sad when I have to realize that America is made up of so many selfish,self-centered people. “Joe the plummer” just puts a face on it. Americans don’t care for the people below them on the economic ladder only about themselves.most would sell their own mothers for enough money and/or fame. It makes me sick.
    I moved to Denmark,which is a socialist country. I don’t think that the average American could handle living in a place like this because of how much people are taken care of. Americans think”why should I care that others don’t have health care,or a roof over their heads,or food to eat.That’s their fault/problem,not mine. It sickens me.

  • Joe the Plumber is just another resounding example of how out of touch McCain is with the TRUE middle class. As a single mother, with a decent job working 48 hours a week I have to budget every tiny aspect of my finances just in order to be able to buy enough groceries to get us through the week. I’m sorry if I can’t muster up some form of sympathy for Joe the Plumber. He can’t buy a business. Well poor Joe. How many out there can’t buy braces for their kids, or medicine when they are sick, or fill up their oil tanks for winter heat? Yet here McCain is trying to evoke some kind of compassion for a man that through most accounts I’ve read is not even a liscensed plumber and owes $1,500 in back taxes even though he makes a very comfortable living. I don’t want Joe the Plumber representing MY MIDDLE CLASS!!!!!

  • Joe Biden says the election of Obama may lead to a new conflict, terrorist attack, or a third war. A careful analysis of history says he may be correct.

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