Bumped into Joe the Plumber (aka Joe the
Non-Plumber) this morning. Our bathroom in the hotel was leaking and so I
called up the most expensive plumber I could find in the whole of America (SBS
will pick up the tab), and it turns out it was Joe the Plumber (aka Samuel
Joseph Wurzelbacher), who reckons he makes $280,000 a year being an unlicensed
I actually got along with Joe extremely well - over a $700
breakfast (SBS will pick up the tab) he and I discovered we shared similar
opinions about how we shouldn't have to pay for anything ourselves. His point to
Senator Obama was that if he made over $250,000 then he would have to pay a levy
for health insurance above that $250,000.
McCain jumped on this during
the debate, and only mentioned Joe the Plumber, a registered Republican, 42
times during the debate, to drive home his point that people like Joe, who are
only getting by on mid-six figure salaries, should not have to pay for any of
the costs of keeping his family, his employees and his society in good
Obama was very defensive about the whole thing during the debate.
Both sides in this election have been keen to make sure that voters know that
neither side believes that anyone should be made to pay for the costs of any of
the promises both sides have made. Why can't we have politicians like this back
in Australia? Why do our guys always talk about fiscal responsibility and
To be honest, this race is getting a little dark (by which I
don't mean to imply that Barack Obama's race is black, but if you want to take
that away from that sentence then go ahead). The whole campaign is getting a
little depressing. During yesterday's debate, Obama pointed out that exactly
100% of McCain's ads have been negative attacks on Obama. The overarching theme
of those ads is the question: "Who is the Real Obama?",
which is a dog-whistle to the Palin-esque Republican base, about how he's
actually a Muslim terrorist sleeper (which, of course, he is). This contrasts
nicely with the Republican's campaign slogan "Country First", which of course,
implies that Obama puts some other country first.
That's the fun part.
The depressing part is that none of these dog whistles are working. Following
the debate Obama has consolidated a double digit lead in the polls. This means
that the race won't be the close one that every pundit and
person-making-a-documentary-about-the-election hoped it would be. A close race
(white or black) means higher ratings. Damn.
Tomorrow we leave to travel
from Illinois to New York, through America's mid-west. I hope I meet a lot more
people like Joe the Plumber. There is a refreshing authenticity to his
hopelessly-self-interested, fraudulent, non-tax paying ways. McCain was right to
make him out as an archetype of Republican values. Just not in the way that