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Tilting at Windmills

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February 3, 2009

JOE THE REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST.... Once in a while, I get the sense Republicans on Capitol Hill want to be made fun of.

Fresh off his stint as a war correspondent in Gaza, Joe the Plumber is now doing political strategy with Republicans.

When GOP congressional aides gather Tuesday morning for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group, Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher -- more commonly known as Joe the Plumber -- will be their featured guest. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week.

Wurzelbacher, who became a household name during the presidential election, will be focusing his talk on the proposed stimulus package.

This is what it's come to for Republican staffers in Congress. In the midst of an economic crisis, and after balking at a stimulus package, the GOP is turning to an unlicensed plumber/campaign prop to discuss legislative strategy on economic policy.

The line between Republicans' approach to governing and satirical performance art blurs just a little more.

One can only assume that the Conservative Working Group was dazzled by Wurzelbacher work as a pseudo-war correspondent for a right-wing website. He did, after all, insist that journalists shouldn't be allowed to cover a war, in part because reporters "make a big deal" over events on the ground. Wurzelbacher added, "I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting."

Why wouldn't Republican staffers want to seek guidance on economic policy from a visionary of this stature?

As for the new round of attention for Wurzelbacher, something Atrios said a few weeks ago still resonates: "Conservatives persist with him because they wrongly believe he pisses liberals off. As with many such things, Joe the Plumber never pissed off liberals. What did piss off liberals was a mainstream news media who allowed some random dude who would benefit from Obama's proposed economic plan to become some sort of stand in for the everyman who Obama would be keeping from achieving success somehow. Now? We're just laughing at you, clowns."

That was true when conservatives asked Wurzelbacher to pretend to be a war correspondent, and it's especially true now that Republicans on the Hill want him to pretend to be a political strategist on economic policy. The problem isn't the prop, it's the right's use of the prop that's embarrassing.

Steve Benen 8:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (60)

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Comments

The answer to the question "Stupid, or lying?" is becoming clearer.

Posted by: jimbo on February 3, 2009 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

Republican is quickly becoming synonymous with joke.

Posted by: KJ on February 3, 2009 at 8:02 AM | PERMALINK

What did piss off liberals was a mainstream news media who allowed some random dude ... to become some sort of stand in for the everyman who Obama would be keeping from achieving success somehow.

What difference does it make? Either way, it seems the strategy is to piss off liberals. Deepen the chasm between "we" and "they" so you don't have to deal with actual issues. And then call for civility and bipartisanship just to piss 'em off a little bit more.

Posted by: Danp on February 3, 2009 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

Repugnacan.

The plan is to position themselves 2 years from now, hopefully with a bunch of voters who are pissed off about the dismal first 2 years of the Obama Presidency.

The memory span of these goons is barely longer than a weekend, so no one will be blaming Bush for the dire mess that is our wasted economy.

In this environment, Joe, is a perfect leader for the GOP, clueless, belligerent, ignorant, pro-gun, pro-war, pro-sleaze, anti-intellectual, etc.

Posted by: Tom Nicholson on February 3, 2009 at 8:17 AM | PERMALINK

What does (not)Joe the (not)Plumber bring to the repubs that hasn't been hashed to death on right wing radio for the last decade? Maybe he's there to consult them on fashion or something.

That they're seeking advice from such an ill-informed, publicity hungry fraud is just further proof of the repubs messy divorce from reality.

Posted by: JoeW on February 3, 2009 at 8:25 AM | PERMALINK

The line between Republicans' approach to governing and satirical performance art blurs just a little more.

Republicans have no interest in "governing," so there is no difference at all between their behavior and 'satirical performance art.'

Posted by: JM on February 3, 2009 at 8:34 AM | PERMALINK

What's embarrassing is the Republicans decade-long shift to believing their own flim-flam.

With Reagan it was obvious the top guys understood most of their political rhetoric was BS (maybe not the topmost guy, but he was always a Joe-like campaign prop anyway). With Bush Sr this was even more obvious.

Then starting with Gingrich, then DeLay, and finally Bush Jr and Cheney, Republicans shifted towards actually believing in the BS. And then using it to guide policy. The results are plain for everyone to see (except Republicans).

And now, the apotheosis - the campaign prop has gained a respectful audience in the highest circles of power. Not the image-makers - the policy-makers. Man, looks like the process of learning from their mistakes is going to take a long, long time.

Posted by: Basilisc on February 3, 2009 at 8:35 AM | PERMALINK

Journalists shouldn't be allowed to cover an economic stimulus, in part because reporters "make a big deal" over events on the ground. Wurzelbacher added, "I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting."

Then on other matters: "Rid-X can save you big bucks on septic tank cleanup!"

Posted by: Capt Kirk on February 3, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

DanP nails it. If the result of Joe the Plumber getting paraded around is it pisses off liberals in any way that's worth gold to the Right. So the Left's venom is with the compliant press, so what? Bile is bile is bile. As for the press, they don't care, there's money to be made playing to the rubes. It's but a small minority of the public that is high-earning, highly educated and attuned to the inanity of the 4th estate. That demographic is not the target audience of your local news, Fox, MSNBC, CNN or most major dailies. Otherwise I couldn't catch the start of the 6 o'clock broadcast of my local TV drivel (on one of numerous sets in my local gym) and have the lead story be an elderly woman plowing into a garage and injuring a dog. This in a city of over a million. I'm sure whatever followed was a set of national stories Media Matters could spend days correcting, some local news tailored to piss off the yokels (implying various local government officials are out to destroy your neighborhood, if not the nation) and then something about NASCAR and snow. Oh, and how could I forget? Ending with the water skiing squirrel. Rinse and repeat at 7. Getting pissed off at the media is a perfectly fine alternative to getting pissed off at Joe as far as the Right is concerned. You're playing into their hands.

Posted by: steve duncan on February 3, 2009 at 8:38 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, I'd like to see more, more, more of Jabbering Joe and Phalaenopsis Palin.

In fact, give them to me every hour, forty hours every week...as someone once sorta said.

Posted by: h on February 3, 2009 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

What is the value-added in "pissing off liberals?"

How do conservatives or conservative philosophies and policies benefit by using some moron to piss me off?

Posted by: Winkandanod on February 3, 2009 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

For chrissakes, what's next? Joe to set up a lab and try to cure cancer?

KJ nails it. The Republicans truly are a giant joke. I know they're trying to "piss off liberals", but doesn't being pissed off mean you have to take them seriously first? This is like Calvin telling his mom he's going to grow a giant beard like those guys in ZZ Top (even though he's 8). Go right ahead, honey. :)

Posted by: DH Walker on February 3, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher - the perfect white trash prop for a white trash political party. What a bunch of losers.

Posted by: Hunter Gathers on February 3, 2009 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

Wink: What is the value-added in "pissing off liberals?"

Republican strategy here is a perfect example of the Underpants Gnomes' business model.

1. Do things to try to piss off liberals
2. ?
3. Profit!

They really haven't thought it through any more than this.

Posted by: DH Walker on February 3, 2009 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

Does any liberal still have a problem with the press re: their pimping of Wurzelbacher? At this point, he is just a clown who makes the Republican brand look horrible to anyone with an independent thought. Because he is completely incompetent to talk about anything and it shows. More please, "Joe the Plumber" has basically become a punchline for a million jokes.

Posted by: Shalimar on February 3, 2009 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

"How do conservatives or conservative philosophies and policies benefit by using some moron to piss me off?"
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It rallies the base and helps reinforce the stereotype of Lefties as a pack of whining girlie-boys always crying into their hankies. Ever watch a good magician? While he's waving about his left hand and has you agog with its various feints the right hand is performing the real trick. You know, the one that involves picking your pocket?

Posted by: steve duncan on February 3, 2009 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

The Imperial Japanese Empire had Tokyo Rose; the Imperious Republican Pit Latrine has its Down-the-Drain Joe. In both cases, the cure was/is to laugh hysterically while focusing the anger proactively---the hysterical laughter for the clowns, and the proactively-focused anger reserved for the evil from whence the clowns came.

If a congressman can afford to send a member of his staff to see this clown, then there clearly is not enough work in the congressman's office to justify the employment of that staff member. In light of the current economic crisis, these "surplus congressional widgets" should be let go....

Posted by: Steve W. on February 3, 2009 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

And here I thought that Politics might be a lot less entertaining now that Bushco. left and grown-ups are in charge. Thanks a bunch GOP, for keeping the Daily Show humming along as ever.

Posted by: palinoscopy on February 3, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Steve:

The thing is, the Republican party is no longer the talented magician / con artist it once was. Instead of deft misdirection, all they have left is "hitting themselves in the nuts for laffs". I don't think much of anyone is going to be so distracted by it that they miss what a bunch of incompetent sleazebags people like Boehner, Cantor, etc etc etc really are and how they're doing their best to screw the rest of us.

Posted by: DH Walker on February 3, 2009 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Duncan did leave out the "What Global Warming?!"; it's been a staple on our local news.

Posted by: coldhotel on February 3, 2009 at 9:04 AM | PERMALINK

I love this shit. The republicans think they are pissing us off by looking stupid. It doesn't make me angry...it makes me think we really could run this country for a long time. Keep it up republicans...you are making us really mad. If you really want to upset us, nominate Sarah Palin in 2012, 2016, 2020 and then nominate her retard after that. You guys sure are mean to us.

Posted by: Patrick on February 3, 2009 at 9:06 AM | PERMALINK

All Jerry Springer, all the live-long day :D

Posted by: MissMudd on February 3, 2009 at 9:10 AM | PERMALINK

Joe should feel right at home being back in a Cess Pool.

Posted by: berttheclock on February 3, 2009 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Well now, not so fast. I'm perfectly willing to concede that Joe the Plumber is smarter and better informed than the average Republican politician or pundit, so it makes perfect sense that they should be turning to him for advice. (/snark)

Posted by: N.Wells on February 3, 2009 at 9:23 AM | PERMALINK

The President could offer Mr. Wurzlbacher a job as a White House plumber.

Posted by: colldhotel on February 3, 2009 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

David Duke/Joe Wurtzelbacker in 2012!

Posted by: mellowjohn on February 3, 2009 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Lay off the kids Patrick, not cool.

As for Palin and Joe being the new conservative brain trust, I couldn't be happier--not pissed off at all. I'm joyous.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 3, 2009 at 9:28 AM | PERMALINK

"....nominate Sarah Palin in 2012, 2016, 2020 and then nominate her retard after that."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Real classy. I'll be in the shower.......

Posted by: steve duncan on February 3, 2009 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

For as much as some folks suggest that the current woes for Republicans are temporary in nature and they'll be back to their scary selves by 2010, I'm really wondering if it's so much more in the other direction. Specifically, if it might not be too much longer until the Republican brand is just turned over to the amateur nutjobs and that we'll soon be seeing the Dems splinter into the old lines of debate, as all professional politicians will be Democrats (This isn't unprecedented, folks). And while I wouldn't say this scenario is "likely," I wouldn't say it's so unlikely either.

And overall, this isn't a new phenomenon, but rather the conclusion of an old one. Because Republicans have been attacking experts and professional politicians for years. Being knowledgeable and competent were seen as evidence that you shouldn't be trusted and lacked "common sense." And after having built shrines for years to a blue-blooded incompetent like Bush, it only makes sense that they'd start finding incompetents within their own ranks and building shrines to them. And the fact that Republican staffers are helping this happen just shows how far they themselves have fallen.

And the problem is that the Republicans don't seem to have anyone left who remembers that their whole schtick was a fraud. It was an empty ruse to win votes by convincing poor and middle class whites to vote against their economic interests, and wasn't to be believed. But all the original fraudsters have gone away, and so they're stuck with the true believers who sing the same tune, but never learned why. Honestly, it's quite possible these rubes will only lead them even deeper into the wilderness and they'll never come back again.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on February 3, 2009 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

Quick - Someone please explain to me the difference between Joe the P and Hannity and the rest of the brain trust on Faux News. The lowest common denominator presented as an authority.

Posted by: John R on February 3, 2009 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Joe might have finally found a way to help the country. If he told reporters they should stop reporting, maybe he'll tell the GOP legislators they should stop legislating.

Posted by: gradysu on February 3, 2009 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

Someone please explain to me the difference between Joe the P and Hannity

The suit. It's kind of like lipstick, except for men.

Posted by: Danp on February 3, 2009 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Joe is quite funny, and so are the Republicans who are supporting and pushing him and his career. It's easy to make fun of them. But there is a deeper truth exposed by Joe's apparent rise in prominence.

Joe is a conservative, and he is representative of conservatives. Some conservative power person met Joe, and was impressed, not by his competence (obviously) but by his dedication to "Conservatism." He is being given jobs to try to move him up to where his conservatism can change things.

This is an old pattern. It's how Michael Brown became head of FEMA. It's how the AEI staffed Bremer's CPA in Iraq. Another example is John Bolton, recent and unlamented recess appointment as Bush's Ambassador to the UN (An organization he totally wanted destroyed for ideological reasons.)

Now we see Joe being pushed into the public eye by conservative powers - probably money men - because of his level of dedication to "Conservatism!" This is not because of his competence in anything that matters, clearly. It is because he is willing to be a Conservative who goes out and publicly pushes the things the Conservative political leaders want pushed even if it makes him look silly in public. He proved himself publicly when he confronted Obama. He is now rising in the movement because of his dedication to "Conservatism" and because he is more than willing to take a hit for the team time and time again. He's useful to the leaders.

He is another tool of the conservative money-men who have pushed and financed the conservative movement since the fifties, and they have probably offered him a long, well-paying career in spreading the propaganda of Conservatism. There's an army like him, useful conservative tools. Men like him are dangerous.

Keep that in mind as you laugh at his antics.

Posted by: Rick B on February 3, 2009 at 9:49 AM | PERMALINK

It's not the magician analogy, it's the high school jock crowd. You always need to be reaffirming that you are in the popular crowd, and that there is an outcast group. And while the rubes may not be in the popular crowd, they don't want to be considered an outcast, so they join in mocking the outcasts.

It's about keeping the group think going that the republicans are the popular ones and not the vilified dirty hippy outcast democrats. Remember, the popular crowd deserve more because they're better people!

Posted by: royalblue_tom on February 3, 2009 at 10:01 AM | PERMALINK

I disagree with one thing, Joe definitely pisses me off. I don't have a problem admitting that, I would be happy if he died.

Posted by: Elbows on February 3, 2009 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

And also, if that's all conservatives have in life, pissing off liberals, well then they're completely pathetic and deserve to never control anything ever again.

Posted by: Elbows on February 3, 2009 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

I have never seen a more "tone deaf" group of people than the Republicans. I guess they didnt realize that guys like Joe-Not-a-Plumber are part of the reason they lost.

Posted by: cminri on February 3, 2009 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

I don't see how Joe the Plumber is the fault of the press. Should they have muted John McCain's mic during the debate whenever he spoke about him? Honestly, most of the media reports I saw were negative (he's not a licensed plumber, he didn't pay his taxes, etc).

Posted by: will on February 3, 2009 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

The current GOP leadership is making the job of the writers for "The Onion" almost impossible. How can you portray these people as more ridiculous than they actually are? Satirists will be reduced to adopting the Tina Fey/Sarah Palin methodology: keep audiences rolling in the aisles with word for word quotes.

Posted by: Mandy Cat on February 3, 2009 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, they're dumb. It's like they're actively trying to destroy the party.

Posted by: EarBucket on February 3, 2009 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

Looking at that recent survey of goopers where 55% of them want the party to be like Sarah Palin, having the "party leaders" do all this with Joe - the male Sarah Palin, ignorant and unaware of how ignorant he is - sounds about right.

Boobus Americanus, the Budweiser booboisie, strikes again.

Posted by: TCinLA on February 3, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Joe is a perfect sponge for right-wing nonsense and talking points. Who better to have come to a meeting to show you how well your propaganda and nonsense are making it to "the base"?

I'm sure Joe can do a fine job telling all those GOP staffers exactly what he wants to hear from them so that his bizarre, topsy-turvy worldview will be enhanced, so that he and people just like him will continue to support the GOP and despise the Democrats, just the way they want to.

No one expects Joe to actually help them govern. But the GOP isn't interested in governing. Joe will tell them how to appeal to their base, in a way no actual sane person could, and that's what the GOP cares about now: maintaining their grip on their core constituency - angry delusionals.

Posted by: biggerbox on February 3, 2009 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to be able to laugh at Repubs foisting Wurzelbacher on us and I'd like to feel cocky that by doing so it's a sign that they have nothing better to offer which will result in a many years-long ride for Democratic Party dominance. But I can't.

There's so many things seriously wrong right now that we need creative ideas, bold leadership, constructive contributions, a common purpose to overcome extremely difficult problems no matter where they come from. In other words we need everybody on board.

Obviously one side has none of that to offer and a true effort from both sides could be very powerful. There is no sense of urgency and no sincere intention to do the job they were supposedly elected to do.

We're being seriously shortchanged.

Posted by: PS on February 3, 2009 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

John McCain turns out to be a really really bad judge of character. For the crimes of bringing Joe the Plumber a never ending 15 minutes of fame and pointing to Caribou Barbie as the "Next Leader of the Conservative Movement" he needs to lose his seat in the Senate.

On the upside, with Rush and Joe as frontmen for the party, it will be nearly impossible for anyone who cares about the country to take the Republicans seriously.

Posted by: bcinaz on February 3, 2009 at 10:58 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, they're dumb. It's like they're actively trying to destroy the party.

I think it's best that we all just stand out of their way.

Posted by: Allan Snyder on February 3, 2009 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

If he told reporters they should stop reporting, maybe he'll tell the GOP legislators they should stop legislating.

No, that's advice they obviously took a long, long time ago.

Posted by: DH Walker on February 3, 2009 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

There's so many things seriously wrong right now that we need creative ideas, bold leadership, constructive contributions, a common purpose to overcome extremely difficult problems no matter where they come from. In other words we need everybody on board.

Any drama, no matter how serious, needs comic relief. 'Nuff said. :)

Posted by: DH Walker on February 3, 2009 at 11:10 AM | PERMALINK

Oh yes, Kristen Breitweiser, Cindy Sheehan, Lilly Ledbetter and Ben Affleck are SOOOOOOOOO much more credible.

Posted by: Chester Bannister on February 3, 2009 at 11:24 AM | PERMALINK

Chester: Oh yes, Kristen Breitweiser, Cindy Sheehan, Lilly Ledbetter and Ben Affleck are SOOOOOOOOO much more credible.

Who? It sounds like you're trying to make some kind of point, but I can't figure out what it might be.

Posted by: DH Walker on February 3, 2009 at 11:37 AM | PERMALINK

The tax jihadists at the Club for Growth are also proud to stand by Joe the Economist. Of course, their usual stable of economists are about as credible as Joe.

Posted by: veblen on February 3, 2009 at 12:03 PM | PERMALINK

What else can you expect from group that's just "pretending" to be a political party.

Posted by: Ted Frier on February 3, 2009 at 12:17 PM | PERMALINK

I am all for the Palin - Wurzelbacher - Limbaugh Republican leadership axis!

I don't know how they could be less serious. Wait, they just elected Michael "How you like me now?" Steele to power(?).

Posted by: TBone on February 3, 2009 at 12:32 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, this hatred for a man is unbelievable.
Hey Dems you won, BE HAPPY

Posted by: jdeldin on February 3, 2009 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Let's see his name isn't Joe nor is he a licensed plumber. Call him Sam the Liar, and of course that is who Republicans are listening to! Hahahaha.

Posted by: teresa on February 3, 2009 at 3:20 PM | PERMALINK

"....nominate Sarah Palin in 2012, 2016, 2020 and then nominate her retard after that."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Real classy. I'll be in the shower.......

Well, that does seem to be the direction the GOP is heading.

Posted by: Tomas on February 3, 2009 at 4:16 PM | PERMALINK

How is Lily Ledbetter not believable, exactly? You know that as a matter of fact, everything she's said about her employer has been proven. She lost her case because the Supreme Court ruled that the statute of limitations had expired.

Posted by: pete on February 3, 2009 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

"Oh yes, Kristen Breitweiser, Cindy Sheehan, Lilly Ledbetter and Ben Affleck are SOOOOOOOOO much more credible."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Um, Chester, you are aware that Lilly Ledbetter is a lifelong Republican, right? Not to mention that neither she or any of the others you mentioned was recruited to plan strategy for Democrat staffers/legislators. If I call your analogy a false equivalence, I hope I'm using words short enough for you.

Posted by: Michael on February 3, 2009 at 5:27 PM | PERMALINK

Did Joe the Plumber Kill Pajamas Media?

Get CSI to examine the evidence.

Posted by: Mike Licht on February 3, 2009 at 8:26 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that the Democrats have control of the government because they went to the people and talked about problems and solutions. The Republicans, it seems, are NOT in power because they NO LONGER discuss problems and solutions.

Never mind the quality of the Dems' solutions - at least they are making a good faith effort at governance. Meanwhile 55% of the GOP is busy making sure the party looks like Sarah Palin, (http://www.newsmax.com/insidecover/GOP_poll_palin/2009/02/03/177925.html) a woman who is categorically unable to discuss a single national issue. While she ramps up to prominence, they turn to Joe the Sewage Guy, whose greatest asset is being a confrontational white dude who is also UNABLE TO DISCUSS PROBLEMS.

I am caring less and less what Rush or Jon Kyl or Jacques the Garbage Transporter have to say. We have real strategic problems and only one party even in the game. I guess that narrows down the choice.

Posted by: Brock Ducharme on February 4, 2009 at 8:24 AM | PERMALINK

Definitely love yahoo, cool stuff.

Will read up and hopefully have something good to say.

Cya.
StiltsChickBetsy

Posted by: StiltsChickBetsy on February 4, 2009 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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