This Week in WTF: Congressman Joe The Plumber?


Since I’ve stopped working on Congressional relations, I’ve lost track of the minutia that used to occupy many of my waking thoughts. For example, I didn’t realize the new Ohio Congressional map pitted Democrats Marcy Kaptur and Dennis Kucinich against each other in a primary. The end result was Kaptur beating out Kucinich and thus ending the long career of the most elfin of Representatives. I’m sure Mr. Kucinich will go on to have wonderful career as an anti-war activist because that’s been his main policy issue in recent years.

But Representative Kaptur now needs to face the winner of the Republican primary to hold onto her seat. The winner of that contest? Joe the Plumber.

Shut the front fucking door.

Remember Joe the Plumber from 2008? He’s the guy who asked then-candidate Obama a question about wealth redistribution and got all kinds of love from anti-tax people like John McCain? It turned out that his real name is Samuel Wurtzelbacher and, while he’s a skilled craftsman of some kind, he’s not actually a lisenced plumber. But the name Joe the Plumber stuck.

Now, maybe he’s becme a lisenced plumber by now and I hope he has because that’s a pretty good career move. But you know what he’s probably not? QUALIFIED IN ANY WAY TO BE A MEMBER OF CONGRESS!!!!!

Sure. There are dozens of people who have gone from unrelated fields into public policy-making with success. They are people who had a sense of civic engagement, a sense of community spirit, a desire to help, and a willingness to learn how to use the system of government to better their communities. Those people rock like Gene Simmons in a lollipop factory. But I don’t think Joe the Plumber is one of them. I think Joe the Plumber is a wanna be reality tv personality using a Congressional campaign as his shot at stardom.

Being in Congress is hard. I know I bag on them a lot here in this space because I often think their collective priorities are out of whack and they’re operating as perpetual candidates, not as true public servants.  But I respect the work of legislating and the level of operations any Member of Congress has to oversee. What Members and their staff do all day every day amounts to the policy version of Lucy and Ethel on the candy factory line: information blasts by them at an alarming rate and they have to process and react to it as best they can. Sometimes that results in an orderly progression of learning, writing bills, and passing laws that better the nation. Sometimes it results in a clusterfuck of facts and opinions stuffed into their cheeks like chocolates and spewed forth in meaningless hearings and press conferences. Either way, it’s not easy, it’s not glamorous, and it’s not something people should do for the glory of getting to speak before before cheering crowds and sycophantic tv pundits.

::coughcough:: Sarahpalin ::coughcough::

I suspect Joe the Plumber is on the stump for a number of reasons. One: Some svengali in the GOP thinks the electorate in that part of Ohio can be bedazzled by a slightly famous Everyman who can say he’ll go represent the ordinary working people on Capitol Hill. Two: Joe the Plumber believes his own press and thinks he truly can be an Everyman who represents the ordinary people man on Capitol Hill. Three: Both Joe the Plumber and the electorate have confused candidacy with legislating and think the whole job is about the speeches and tv appearance and not the other stuff. The stuff like learning procedure, being familiar with US legal code, understanding the balance of powers between the three branches of government, understanding the legislative process, knowing a LOT about current affairs at home and abroad, and having a staff in place who can manage the practical aspects of serving the community directly through case worker who help with Social Security claim, military academy recommendation, passport expedition, and a million other things that constituents need.

You know. The real work of being in Congress.

If Joe the Plumber has spent all his time since 2008 studying up on how to do that stuff, awesome. I have underestimated him. If he hasn’t, if he didn’t even know a Member has to follow parliamentary rules and hire case workers, then he needs to get the fuck out of the race and clear the way for someone who knows what their doing or is excited to learn. THAT would be serving the working people of Ohio way more than this grandstanding campaign that’s going on now.

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6 comments for “This Week in WTF: Congressman Joe The Plumber?

  1. amy
    March 8, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Kucinich was PISSED he lost. That little elf was jumping up and down and spouting all kinds of stuff.
    Joe The plumber…ech

  2. March 8, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    Well said.

  3. March 8, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    I just love you. Not in a stalkery kind of way, but in a let’s-cut-the-bullshit-and-get-something-done-in-congress-without-joe-the-plumbers-running-around kind of way.

    Word, Girl. You rock it better than Gene.

  4. kim
    March 10, 2012 at 1:28 am

    First of all, LOVE your blog. You have very well though out ideas and have a great sense of humour.

    Just a small pet peeve: use of they proper there, their or there. I understand that you’re busy and maybe don’t proofread everything, but unfortunately sometimes people diminish the importance of what someone is saying when they see improper use of grammar. I am trying not to do this especially in light of your great commentary in many of your pieces.

    “clear the way for someone who knows what their doing or is excited to learn. ” not their, they’re (or the slightly longer version, they are)

    sorry sometimes I just have to give in to my peeves!

  5. kim
    March 10, 2012 at 1:29 am

    Aaaaaaaaand I’m guilty of not proof-reading. I said though instead of thought……karma at work????

  6. April 15, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Did you know that Joe the Plumber does not have a License? All 50 states in the U.S. require Barbers to have a License to cut hair but not all 50 states require plumbers to have a License. Ohio and Pennsylvania are among the few that don’t require a License. Joe the Plumber says he is a Plumber but he don’t have a License. I am a Plumber out of Illinois. We keep ours is at the top of our website.</ Joe's is not to be found!! Who knows where his is! As far as we know he don't know crap about Plumbing. Even if the though the state doesn't require you to get one. You still have to get one from one of the towns or you can't legally work in them. I think it is lazy on the States behalf to say well we are not gonna give them a License at the State Level and we will just give the Towns and Cities the power to License them and decide weather or not they should require a License or not. Sometimes the towns say " well the state doesn't require a License so why should we"? Next thing you know you got a bunch of people Practicing Plumbing on Commercial Jobs and in big building who don't know what they are doing and are not qualified. I feel for the State in the future because they are gonna end up having some pretty bad issues before the law changes. Right now any of the towns can give out Plumbing License if they decide that they want to require that Plumbers be Licensed in their town and they can give the Exams and stuff like that. Basically if you know the right people I'm pretty sure it won't be hard to get a License. Its very obvious that it is something that should be handled through the state. That way people don't slip through the cracks everywhere.

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