Joe the Plumber, opponent of Obama's plan to raise taxes on folks earning more than $250,000 a year because he hopes one day to buy his boss's business and join that lofty income bracket, was the star of last night debate.
Obama poo-pooed the whole notion:
"He's trying to suggest that a plumber is the guy he's fighting for," Obama said. "How many plumbers you know that are making a quarter-million dollars a year?"
But Obama's real problem with plumbers was documented by James Taranto last summer while evaluating Obama's time as a community organizer:
These efforts at economic development having failed, Obama "began to focus on providing social services for Altgeld Gardens," a government-owned and -operated apartment complex:
"We didn't yet have the power to change state welfare policy, or create local jobs, or bring substantially more money into the schools," [Obama] wrote. "But what we could do was begin to improve basic services at Altgeld--get the toilets fixed, the heaters working, the windows repaired." Obama helped the residents wage a successful campaign to get the Chicago Housing Authority to promise to remove asbestos from the units; but, after an initial burst of activity, the city failed to keep its promise. (As of last year, some residences still had not been cleared of asbestos.)
It is both funny and scary that one of America's major political parties would offer this record of sheer futility as its nominee's chief qualification to be president of the United States. Even more striking, though, is how alien the world in which Obama operated was by comparison with the world in which normal Americans live.
Reader, when your toilet breaks, do you wait around for some Ivy League hotshot to show up and organize a meeting so that you can use your collective strength to wring concessions from the powers that be?
Or do you call a plumber?
As a "community organizer," Obama toiled within a subculture of such abject dependency that even home repairs were "social services," provided by government (or, in Obama's Chicago, not provided). It was an utterly bizarre intersection between the cultural elite and the underclass. By Judis's account, Obama's Columbia degree was useless. He would have been more helpful if he'd gone to vocational school instead.
Well, Obama didn't go to vocational school. And now Joe not only wants to show up at people's homes and unclog toiliets without the intercession of a community organizer, he aspires to make as much money as a successful author or a vice president for community and external affairs at an urban hospital.
But don't call Obama a snob.
"Joe" The Plumber Actually "Sam"
Hard to think of a rejoinder that is neither superfluous nor inappropriate.