If you've been anywhere other than living under a rock the past couple of weeks, you probably know more than you'd ever want to know about "Joe The Plumber". You know that he sold himself as an uncommitted voter when he's really a typical, if not a parody or caricature, American conservative voter. John McCain invoked the guy what felt like a dozen times during the final presidential debate as an example of an "average American" that was concerned that Senator Obama would raise their taxes.
And then we found out that Joe was making $40k a year, not $250k, and that he'd actually get a pretty sizable tax break under Obama, but not McCain. And also that Joe didn't pay some of his taxes at all last year.
And Joe's pissed about it. Can you blame him? Absolutely, while I sympathize with anyone who has the media "vet" them for a week straight, Joe The Whiner isn't exactly shying away from the media. He stood in his front yard giving dozens of interviews to local and national media, and whilst complaining about the media invading his personal life, he flew to New York to appear on some morning talk shows. Appearing on a friendly national program, a new show that Fox News gave to former Governor and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, Joe said "The media's worried about whether I've paid my taxes, they're worried about any number of silly things that have nothing to do with America."
I disagree for a reason that Joe hasn't seen since he's at the center of it all: this isn't about him, it's about what McCain said and did during the debate. This guy wasn't typical talking point fodder, he was held out as an example of "average Americans" when he's really nothing of the sort, unless we all cheat our taxes and distort our financial status to make a political point. The media may have seized on Joe because he's shiny (kind of like what fish do, and no, I'm not talking about his head) but this is important not because Joe cheated his taxes, but because he represents the dishonesty that has infected McCain's campaign, and that is a perfectly legitimate topic of discussion even if the media is doing it for the wrong reason.
"You know, when you can't ask a question of your leaders anymore, that gets scary," he said.
That's the kind of dishonesty I'm talking about, something Joe and McCain share in common. This guy wasn't investigated by the media just because he asked Senator Obama a question on the campaign trail, nobody even knew who he was at that point and nobody cared to know. Not until McCain brought him up to defend his tax plan (which Joe wouldn't benefit from because he's not wealthy) over a dozen times that the landslide began.
"You know, when a candidate brings your name up a dozen times during a debate bringing the media down on you, that gets scary" would be far more truthful, but the truth was never part of the equation. Like it or not, McCain used Joe to lie to the public and the media -- which has typically just repeated those lies without question for nearly a decade -- are finally in a mood to start asking questions, and neither McCain, his campaign, nor Joe are ready to deal with that reality.
I'm as sick of hearing about this guy as you are, but the blame doesn't fall on the media, it falls on McCain for trying to put his failing campaign on Joe's shoulders only to find out that the economy has crushed the "average American" enough already -- there just isn't room for more.