Friday, October 17, 2008

Plumbing the Depths of Bullshit

"WTF Plumbing," photo taken in Sacramento, CA, by Flickr user timballas, used under a Creative Commons license. (Hey, I know that street!)

I'm heartily sick of candidates trying to manipulate us with stories they've gleaned from Ordinary Americans they've met on the campaign trail. These Ordinary Americans are invariably salt-of-the-earth figures who live in small towns and have been dealt an Injustice.

It's not that I don't care about injustice. In fact, I believe passionately in justice (the social kind, not the sort that's just thinly-veiled revenge). That's precisely why I resent politicians using such stories to circumvent reasoned thinking.

The Democrats are as guilty of this as the Republicans, by the way. This is an equal-opportunity, non-partisan beef of mine.

Nonetheless: By basically making "Joe the Plumber" a third participant in the final presidential debate, McCain carried this conceit further than I'd ever seen. And so I wallowed in schadenfreude when I read this in yesterday's Columbus Dispatch:

Joe the Plumber is not actually a licensed plumber.

Here's the scoop:
Joe Wurzelbacher, better known as Joe the Plumber, the nickname Republican John McCain bestowed on him during Wednesday's presidential debate, said he works for a small plumbing company that does residential work. Because he works for someone else, he doesn't need a license, he said.

But the county Wurzelbacher and his employer live in, Lucas County, requires plumbers to have licenses. Neither Wurzelbacher nor his employer are licensed there, said Cheryl Schimming of Lucas County Building Regulations, which handles plumber licenses in parts of the county outside Toledo. ...

Wurzelbacher, 34, said he doesn't have a good plan put together on how he would buy Newell Plumbing and Heating in nearby Toledo.

He said the business consists of owner Al Newell and him. Wurzelbacher said he's worked there for six years and that the two have talked about his taking it over at some point.

"There's a lot I've got to learn," he said.
To quote Sarah Palin: "Say it ain't so, Joe!"

The amount of bullshit swirling around Joe the Plumber's fifteen minutes is pretty impressive. He's not legally licensed as a plumber. So even his folksy moniker is in doubt! Wurzelbacher is in no position to be hurt by Obama's tax plan; his plumbing business is merely hypothetical and far in the future. Honestly, it sounds like Wurzelbacher will be lucky if he makes it into the $250,000-plus bracket. Since he's not there yet, he'd most likely pay lower taxes under Obama's plan.

So how 'bout if the candidates cut the crap, stop trying to manipulate us with these tales of Ordinary Americans, and focus instead on how they would start to repair our broken economy.

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