Monday, October 20, 2008

'Joe the plumber is me': An encounter in a looking-glass world

Byron York, a National Review writer who can't be easily pigeon-holed into any right-wing media box, captured a revealing "Joe the Plumber" encounter at a recent McCain rally in Prince William County, Virginia.

York provides the backdrop:

"In recent days, the Joe the Plumber phenomenon has taken on a deeper meaning for McCain’s audiences, for two reasons. First, he is a symbol of their belief that Barack Obama is going to raise their taxes, regardless of what Obama says about hitting up only those taxpayers who make more than $250,000 a year. They know Wurzelbacher doesn’t make that much, and they know they don’t make that much. And they’re not suspicious because they believe that someday they will make $250,000, and thus face higher taxes. No, they just don’t believe Obama right now. If he’s elected, they say, he’ll eventually come looking for taxpayers who make well below a quarter-million dollars, and that will include them."

The focus of York's piece is documented immigrant Tito Munoz, a native of Colombia, who's "disgusted" with the media and its coverage of Joe the Plumber:

“Why the hell are you going after Joe the Plumber? Joe the Plumber has an idea. He has a future. He wants to be something else. Why is that wrong? Everything is possible in America. I made it. Joe the Plumber could make it even better than me….I was born in Colombia, but I was made in the U.S.A.”

The reporter who tries to answer Munoz -- Mother Jones magazine's David Corn, who has done highly regarded investigative digging into "Plamegate" and other Bush administration misdeeds -- is portrayed as being no match for Munoz and his indictment of the media.

"Joe the Plumber is me!" shouts Munoz at Corn. Is he? Munoz thrusts all his documentation, including U.S. passport, in Corn's face. But let's say Munoz was from Lucas County, Ohio, and that he was a plumber -- a licensed one. Then, in the economic downturn, there are fewer plumbing jobs, and Munoz loses work to outfits like Joe's firm because Joe, being unlicensed, can charge less for a job. Would Munoz then be shouting "Joe the Plumber is me!"? Who would he be madder at -- unlicensed plumbers who can cut into his earnings or a President Barack Obama whose tax policies, Munoz fears, with no evidence, may some day clip more dollars from his paycheck?

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