Sunday, October 19, 2008

The Plumber vs. The General

I watched Senator John McCain on television speaking Sunday afternoon to an auditorium filled with supporters in Toledo, Ohio. At first I thought to myself what a nice moment. The fact is it seems there have been too few really nice moments at McCain and Palin rallies lately because they seem desperate.

Before long Senator McCain launched into an attack on his opponent, Senator Barack Obama, with great energy but little veracity. "Joe the Plumber is the only person to get Obama to answer a question," he flailed, "and he didn't ask him to come to his door." His door? "He didn't ask Obama to come to his house," he went on, "and he didn't ask for those political attacks from the Obama campaign." There were attacks by the Obama campaign against Joe? "No American should be attacked for asking a question of a presidential candidate," he steamed, "attacks on him are attacks small businesses across the country."

I rushed to YouTube to screen the more than five minute meeting between Obama and Joe. It was very cordial and Obama seemed genuinely engaged in the conversation. It took place on a campaign stop, not at Joe's house. And what of Joe? He has a lien on his house for not paying his taxes. I guess Joe just doesn't like taxes. And it is well known now that Joe is not a licensed plumber, he is not trying to buy a plumbing business and he does not make very much income.

Governor Sarah Palin used much the same thrust during her campaign stops Sunday. Praising Joe the plumber for asking Obama tough questions, Palin said Obama sounded like a socialist. Then she charged that Joe is being investigated for asking a question. Don't these candidates understand that they undermine their own campaign with these shoddy attempts to fire up their own base? Why can't they just offer some straight talk about their positions on the critical issues? Hyperbole is fine, but using this Joe the plumber seems misguided.

General Colin Powell, a true American hero, announced earlier in the day he would vote for Senator Obama. His thoughtful and articulate explanation on Meet The Press was filled with praise for both candidates. And Powell described McCain as a long time friend. An important factor in that support of Obama was all the negative campaigning he has witnessed from the McCain campaign. He also expressed his doubts about Palin's readiness for the presidency. On the other hand, he spoke of Obama in glowing terms. He had seen how the Illinois Senator has recently handled his campaign, citing his intelligence and steadiness through the recent economic crisis. "He is ready," pronounced Powell, "he has the potential to be an exceptional president."

Joe the plumber is the centerpiece of the McCain campaign. General Colin Powell's endorsement will now be an important factor in the Obama campaign. This pretty much sums up the state of this race with two weeks to go before the election.

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