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 youâ€™re not McCain or a Republican supporter – comes from McCainâ€™s reaction in the health insurance segment to hearing Obama say â€œJoe plumberâ€™s fine would be zeroâ€. That moment has now been nicknamed McCainâ€™s â€œdeer in headlightsâ€ moment. See for yourself here. Politics can be cruel. And with all this new technology now at peopleâ€™s fingertips, it can be even crueller, even quicker!
Other quotes from SixFifty on Joe the Plumber include:
â€œJoe the plumberâ€ 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.
â€œIs Joe the plumber and Joe-6-pack the same person?â€ asks someone on CNN. Interestingly, the response seems to be (apart from someone better register â€œjoe the plumberâ€ as a domain, trade name, put it on vans etc), â€˜I wanted it to be more about me and the issues, not about joeâ€.
Everyoneâ€™s talking about â€¦ Joe the plumber. â€œA whiff of absurdityâ€ about how much he turned up says a commentator on BBC Radio 5 Live. A CNN analyst said that McCainâ€™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 â€œJoe the plumberâ€, 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 â€˜out of touchâ€™ 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 â€œJoe the Plummerâ€ 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 â€œspread the wealth around.â€ 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 â€œyes we canâ€ slogan. The theme of allied building trades was continued in yesterdayâ€™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:
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.