He became a media sensation without spending a dime on PR – Joe the Plumber.
It all started when Samuel “Joe” Wurzelbacher, who works as a plumber, told Obama during his campaign in Ohio that his tax plan would keep him from buying the business that currently employs him.
It would have ended there, if both presidential hopefuls would not have started referring to “Joe the Plumber” every opportunity they got. Maria Gavrilovic of CBS news counted that both candidates mentioned his name more than 25 times during their 90-minute debate, compared to the 16 times they mentioned Iraq. Needless to say, Saturday Night Life spoofed it brilliantly.
The media jumped all over poor Joe, digging into his private life. In a time where you worry about the loyalties and ties of your neighbors (especially if they have "Middle Eastern-sounding names), the relentless US newshounds tried to find any piece of dirt they could on our hardworking plumber. They claimed that Joe does not have a license to operate as a plumber, is behind on his taxes, and would actually enjoy a tax cut of about $500 under the Democrat's plans, because his real income is much lower than he claimed. Whatever.
It for sure didn’t stop Republican Senator John McCain to turn our Joseph into the ultimate Average Joe or Joe Six-pack symbol, in an attempt to gain the upper hand over rival Obama. Up till now, the only clear winner is Joe himself.
He got coverage (without any sponsors or funding!) that many celebrities (or wannebees) would dream of. For starters, the prestigious Times Online wrote a 2-page profile on him. Wurzelbacher was also interviewed by Katie Couric of CBS Evening News, Neil Cavuto of Fox News and Diana Sawyer of Good Morning America. The only one who didn’t show any interest in him was Oprah – no wonder since she is a staunch Obama supporter.
Not everyone is happy with our Joe. Female plumbers, construction workers, pipefitters and other skilled tradeswomen are peeved, since no one has bothered to try to court their interests. As Lauren Sugerman, executive director of Chicago Women in Trades points out, real women like “Sarah the plumber” “Yvette the electrician” and “Meghan the carpenter” are facing pressing issues of their own. Personally, I am not quite sure what these are, since working in those professions raise the same concerns for men and women: payment, regulations and safety issues. But maybe I am missing the point here, being a high-tech nerdette. Feel free to leave your comment on this blog to that effect (please note that any comments of current and/or ex-lovers will be promptly purged unless they are extremely positive and make sense). Anyway, we always refer to “your average Joe”; we never talk about “your average Sarah”, sorry! I am sure you don’t want to be referred to as “Jane Doe”, do you?
In an eerie blur of reality and fantasy, Joe is being quoted on the left and on the right (pun intended) with the authority of a Bill Clinton. His (Joe's not Bill's) latest view on Obama and Israel promptly made it to the leading Israeli media. When asked by a retired Florida lawyer if he also believed that a vote for Obama is a vote for the death of Israel, he answered "I'll go ahead and agree with you on that." In contrast to Condi Rice et al, our favorite Joe loves plain talk! Is he a new Secretary of State in the making?
With Halloween around the corner, guess which outfits are the bestsellers this year?
Correct: Sarah Palin wigs, greedy banker outfits and….. Joe the Plumber plungers!
No matter who will win next month – our Joe for sure spiced up the 2008 elections!