A Leaky Argument

By Howard Kurtz
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, October 17, 2008; 9:40 AM

Surely I've got better things to do than to flush this column down the drain by yammering on about Joe the Plumber.

Actually, not at the moment.

The media simply swooned over Joe Wurzelbacher, regular guy from Ohio. Hard-working heartlander. Antithesis of a Wall Street shark or Washington lobbyist. John McCain kept mentioning him, and then Barack Obama kept mentioning him, and the next thing you know he's on with Katie Couric and Diane Sawyer.

I did find something odd about Joe-mania. Usually politicians find ordinary folks who perfectly symbolize the point they want to make. Joe told Obama at a rally that he objects to the Democrat's tax plan. But Joe's taxes wouldn't go up under Obama's plan, because he doesn't make anything close to 250K a year. (In fact, he took in $40,000 two years ago.) Joe doesn't want a hike in case he someday moves up the income ladder. But for McCain, that was close enough.

Joe was feeling the hot breath of the MSM on his neck for 12 hours or so. But soon it didn't smell so sweet.

The Toledo Blade: " 'Joe the Plumber' isn't a plumber -- at least not a licensed one, or a registered one."

And Politico: "Joe the Plumber really is no fan of paying taxes. According to records from the Lucas County (OH) Court of Common Pleas found by my colleague Avi Zenilman, Samuel J. Wurzelbacher has a lien placed against him to the tune of $1,182.92."

Ah -- his first name isn't even Joe. So much for Joe-mentum.

The plumber guy "suddenly found himself facing celebrity-level scrutiny" ( New York Times). He "conducted a string of media interviews while becoming the subject of Web speculation about his motives" ( Los Angeles Times). "Joe the plumber's 15 minutes of fame took a sour turn" ( Boston Globe). "Joe the plumber's story has some cracks" ( Chicago Tribune). "Unlicensed? Say It Ain't So, Joe" ( New York Post).

I wonder if he's raising his rates.

National Review's Jim Geraghty blames the "Obamabots" for "targeting" Joe:

"Thank God we live in a free country, where you can speak your mind on public issues, without fear that those who disagree will respond by exposing anything you've ever done that you regret or that could embarrass your family.

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