On Behalf of Our National Joes

Plumbers disavow Joe
Boston Globe – 1 hour ago
By Brian C. Mooney, Globe Staff Real plumbers don’t like Joe. Or at least the ones supporting Democrat Barack Obama. About 100 union plumbers from a Boston-based local plan to knock on union members’ doors Saturday in Portsmouth, NH,

It ain’t easy being a Joe.

Names are important, and some names can be murder:

And he said: “Son, this world is rough
And if a man’s gonna make it, he’s gotta be tough
And I knew I wouldn’t be there to help ya along.
So I give ya that name and I said goodbye
I knew you’d have to get tough or die
And it’s the name that helped to make you strong.”

He said: “Now you just fought one hell of a fight
And I know you hate me, and you got the right
To kill me now, and I wouldn’t blame you if you do.
But ya ought to thank me, before I die,
For the gravel in ya guts and the spit in ya eye
Cause I’m the son-of-a-bitch that named you “Sue.'”

I got all choked up and I threw down my gun
And I called him my pa, and he called me his son,
And I came away with a different point of view.
And I think about him, now and then,
Every time I try and every time I win,
And if I ever have a son, I think I’m gonna name him
Bill or George! Anything but Sue! I still hate that name!

Johnny Cash, “A Boy Named Sue,”
words and music by Shel Silverstein, © 1969

This name stuff is more important than you think:

… A study published in the Journal of Social Psychology found that people tend to predict career success based on how well a person’s name matches the gender associated with their vocation. Ohio University researchers asked participants to read descriptions of people—including their name and occupation—and found that they deemed women with a more feminine name such as Emma more likely to be successful in traditional female occupations such as nursing, while men with a more masculine name like Hank were expected to excel at jobs like plumbing—traditionally considered a male career.

The results suggest that people with names that don’t “fit” their desired career might have more difficulty finding work than equally qualified colleagues with more fitting names. This surprised James Bruning, Ph.D., an Ohio University psychology professor and the study’s lead author. “We thought that with today’s political correctness, everybody would be assumed to be able to do everything equally well—but we just didn’t find that.” He suggests that parents “be aware of the name they give [because it] probably does reflect their expectations for the child.”

Psychology Today Magazine, Nov/Dec 2000
The Name Game
What’s in a name? Maybe your career success. How well does your name match your job?
by Cindy Klinger

According to an article on ‘Names and Personality’ by Laura Jana, M.D., F.A.A.P. on Dr. Spock dot com:

Expectations of achievement
In another study published in the same journal [Journal of Educational Psychology ], sixth-graders’ self-concept–how effective, attractive, and valued they felt–was related to the desirability of their first names. Moreover, children with desirable first names scored higher on a standardized test of academic achievement. One possible interpretation is that teachers expect children with more popular names to do better and so, over time, those positive expectations translate into actual higher levels of achievement.

There’s some pretty good science behind the effects of names.

In his book, The Name Game (1979, Simon & Schuster), Christopher P. Anderson talks about the research that locks us into the social expectations carried with our names from a young age; from the tragedy of bad names to the value of good names.

In 1973, psychologist Ralph Winsome polled 1,100 people on their reactions to thirty-two common first names:

… Joseph — Intelligent, earnest but dull

And that was the good one. Later, Anderson notes:*

Joe — a truck driver

[* primary sources included “the Winsome poll of 1,100, Barbara Buchanan and James Bruning’s Ohio University studies, E.D. Lawson’s research and the David Sheppard poll.” Anderson, ibid.]

Yeah, scientifically, it sucks being a “Joe.” Worse, people think it’s cute to turn “Joe” into whatever they want: Joe Six-Pack, Joe Blow, GI Joe, Joe Cool, and (ghod help us!) Joe Sperm (Planned Parenthood*). Broadway Joe, a guy named Joe, the ’60s cheapo rage classic film with Peter Boyle, “Joe”; coffee is called, ofttimes “Joe” as in the slurred 3 AM imperative “gimme ‘nother cuppa joe!”

[* STOPP News, 9-22-00: “Joe Sperm deserves the same negative response drawn by Camel cigarettes’ Joe Camel.”]

Joe the Plumber is kith and kin to Joe Schmoe, Joe Blow, Say It Ain’t So, Joe, Shoeless Joe, Tailgunner Joe, Mean Joe Green, Joe College, Joe Bob, Joltin’ Joe DiMaggio, “Smokin’ Joe” Frasier, Broadway Joe, and, of course Billy Joe McAllister (who jumped, tragically, from the Tallahatchee Bridge.)

There’s the “Average Joe” and Joe Bloggs, commonly used placeholder name in the United Kingdom according to Wikipedia. There’s Eat At Joe’s and Joe’s Diner (“fictional name for a hypothetical small, local restaurant” Wikipedia). Joe was a common nickname for U.S. soldiers, as in Vietnam’s “me love you long time, Joe.” There was Gary’s Cooper’s “A Guy Named Joe,” Sloppy Joes and “Bashful Joe.” You got your “Joe Camel” who was the subject of much controversy as to his evil influence on children, and Joe Dokes, Joe Soap and other forgotten “Joes” of dialect and philological studies. Jackie Gleason’s “Joe the Bartender” is Joe the Plumber’s great uncle. And “there’s Uncle Joe, he’s movin’ kind of slow” in the TV show “Petticoat Junction” who was a small time chiseler, an almost hayseed con-man. And there’s the up-and-coming “Joe and Mary Catholic” in the national class melée.

Generations of Americans have thrilled to the confidential autobiographies of a generic male’s viscera in the Readers’ Digest series, “I am Joe’s ….” (Liver, brain, eyes, spleen, prostate, kidneys, intestines, gall bladder, etc. etc.)

There is not another American name in the English language with so many multifarious variations synonymous with “average” or mediocre. The only place that “Joes” traditionally shine is in sports, where you can be a baseball or a football hero, especially if you’re a quarterback. From Joe Namath to Joe Montana (and the eponymous, Joe, Montana 59336). And so on and so forth.

Generally, the name has all the fire and vigor of Senator Lieberman’s ill-fated 2004 presidential run wherein he claimed to have “Joe-mentum.”

And so he did.


In politics, as with most other endeavors, a good rule of thumb is “If it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is.”

You will recall that I asked in Tuesday’s “The Bad, The Worse and the Ugly“:

Which brings me to the Burning Question of the Day (BQOD):

How is McCain going to cheat this time?

By cheat, I mean some shameless grab at the spotlight, some meme to drive the debate, and, hopefully, not releasing their bray MCCAIN WON! before the debate, as proved so embarrassing for Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal and the Rovian Campaign of McCain.

That was the first debate.

For the veep debate they ginned up the whole Gwen Ifill is BIASED! screech. And, AS I PREDICTED (“Ifill — They Vamp” on Oct 2), not a peep about it a week later. Funny, it was SUPPOSED to be important. (Unless it was just a smoke screen.)

For the second debate they had Palin open up Monday morning (before the Tuesday debate) with the “OBAMA IS PALLING AROUND WITH TERRORISTS” free infomercial without rebuttal on MSNBC, CNN and FAUX NOOZ ™.

Well, now we have our answer. T’was Michelle Malkin that gave away the game, and CBS News that confirmed it. [emphasis added] :

Reality Check

Reality Checking “Joe The Plumber”

CBS Evening News: Now Famous Ohio Man Owes Back-Taxes; Was Called By Campaign Officials

WASHINGTON, Oct. 16, 2008

… The McCain campaign, meanwhile, likes Joe the Plumber so much that officials began calling him on Tuesday and have asked him to appear at campaign rallies.

Uh, wasn’t the debate on WEDNESDAY?

Well, jeepers, the Commission on Presidential Debates webpage lists it as,

October 15, 2008
Third Presidential Debate, 9 pm Eastern

And Wednesday WAS the 15th. Tuesday being the 14th. So, Joe the Plumber was already in cahoots with the Rovian Campaign of McCain the day before the debate, which was WHY McCain carefully seeded the debate with “Joe the Plumber” references. They’d had a whole day to prime him with talking points, and just look what they already did with Sarah Palin.

Which was why they had “Joe the Plumber” STANDING by to be interviewed by Katie Couric immediately following the debate. He was a “plant.” And, worse, his entire story is a series of prevarications. (Guess they didn’t have any more time to vet him than they had with Palin.)


Just like they cheated with the earpiece in the Bush-Kerry debates, just like they cheated in THESE debates, even going so far as to smear a good and decent woman, Gwen Ifill, prior to the “Winking Debate of Non-Answers” by the candidates for Veep.

WHY can’t Republicans win a fair debate? If you’ve got to cheat, you obviously don’t think much of your own arguments. (Listening to them, I can understand why, of course.)

It was a trick, a trap, a con. And, true to form, led by the rings through their collective noses, the media obligingly followed along, and THEN the trap was spring:

The Wingnutosphere, led by Malkin, played the “HORRIBLE PRESS!” victim card.

Michelle Malkin:
Operation Destroy Joe the Plumber

This is particularly hilarious, given Malkin’s infamous stalking of the Children’s Health Care Insurance poster child, Graeme Frost in Baltimore ONE YEAR AGO! ThinkProgress:

Right Wing Launches Baseless Smear Campaign Against 12 Year Old Recipient Of SCHIP

Two weeks ago, the Democratic radio address was delivered by a 12-year old Maryland boy named Graeme Frost. Graeme told his story of being involved in a severe car accident three years ago, and having received access to medical care because of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. He said:

If it weren’t for CHIP, I might not be here today. … We got the help we needed because we had health insurance for us through the CHIP program. But there are millions of kids out there who don’t have CHIP, and they wouldn’t get the care that my sister and I did if they got hurt. … I just hope the President will listen to my story and help other kids to be as lucky as me.

The right-wing immediately condemned Democrats for daring to put a human face on the SCHIP program at a time when Bush was proposing a “diminishment of the number of children covered.” Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) — who has posed with children to advance his own political agenda — claimed Graeme was being used “as a human shield.”

Conservatives have more recently turned their targets on young Graeme Frost himself. A poster at the Free Republic propagated information alleging that Frost was actually a rich kid being pampered by the government. Among other bits of information, the post by the Freeper “icwhatudo” asserts that Graeme and his sister Gemma attend wealthy schools that cost “nearly $40,000 per year for tuition” and live in a well-off home.

The smear attack against Graeme has taken firm hold in the right-wing blogosphere. The National Review, Michelle Malkin, Wizbang, Powerline, and the Weekly Standard blog have all launched assaults on the Frost family. The story is slowly working its way into traditional media outlets as well. … Right wing bloggers have been harassing the Frosts, calling their home numerous times to get information about their private lives. Compassionate conservatism indeed.

UPDATE: TP commenter Mr. Ed notes that Malkin visited the Frost’s home and business today. A coworker of Mr. Frost tells Malkin that the family is “struggling,” but she refuses to believe it.

UPDATE II: More from John Aravosis, Whiskey Fire, All Spin Zone, Matt Ortega, FDL, and Kos.

And this from Crooks and Liars:

So what would you do if you saw that face snooping around your house? That might be a good question for the Frost’s:

Update 2:50pm Eastern [8 Oct. 2007]: I (Malkin) just returned from a visit to Frost’s commercial property near Patterson Park in Baltimore. It’s a modest place. Talked to one of the tenants, Mike Reilly, who is a talented welder. He said he had known the Frosts for 10 years. Business is good, he told me, though he characterized Frost as “struggling.” Reilly was an outspoken advocate for socialized health care without any means-testing whatsoever and an insistent critic of the Iraq war. Despite all that, he did agree with me that going without health insurance is often a matter of choice and a matter of priorities. Or maybe we were speaking two different languages.

I also passed by the Frosts’ rowhouse. There was an “01 – 20 -09? bumper sticker plastered on the door and a newer model GMC Suburban parked directly in front of the house. I’ve seen guesstimates of the house’s worth in the $400,000-plus range. Those are high. But Mark Tapscott’s point remains: “[P]eople make choices and it’s clear the Frosts have made choice to invest in property and a business, but not in private health insurance. The Maryland-administered version of the federal SCHIP program, by the way, does not impose an asset test on applicants.”

Now isn’t this the same Malkin who has complained about hate mail and threats? Ironically she did this on the same day that Free Republic decided to post the Frost’s’ home address.

And, from the same posting:

Digby has more:

This is so loathsome I am literally sick to my stomach. These kids were hurt in a car accident. Their parents could not afford health insurance — and sure as hell couldn’t get it now with a severely handicapped daughter. And these shrieking wingnut jackasses are harassing their family for publicly supporting the program that allowed the kids to get health care. A program, by the way, which a large number of these Republicans support as well.

They went after Michael J. Fox. They went after a wounded Iraq war veteran. Now they are going after handicapped kids. There is obviously no limit to how low these people will go…read on

So, tactics are changable, based on the ends. IOKIYAR! (As if anybody in North America didn’t already KNOW that.)

Here are TODAY’s crocodile tears from our stalking blogger Malkin:

Operation Destroy Joe the Plumber

By Michelle Malkin • October 17, 2008 12:02 AM

Scroll for updates…McCain defends Joe the Plumber…

My syndicated column today reports on Team Obama and the Obamedia’s mission to tear down Joe the Plumber. Yes, we are in the midst of a new contagion: Joe The Plumber Derangement Syndrome. JTPDS.

Now, pay close attention to how the MSM rushes to uncover every last bit of gossip and dirt about Joe Wurzelbacher’s life. Some of it is relevant to the public policy questions he posed to Obama. Much of it is not. Danny Glover notes the behemoth double standards of the media mavens who call it journalism when they investigate, but consider it “stalking” when those of us on the Right perform the same tasks on Democrat poster families …

Now, how’s that for neat? That’s a three-rail bank shot in a game of 8-ball persiflage.

The Devil himself could take a lesson from this one: first that she’s SHOCKED! SHOCKED! that the media would seek out someone named dozens of times — out of the blue — in the final presidential debate (who was recruited and prepped for an interview with Katie Couric immediately AFTER the debate), AND that it simultaneously JUSTIFIES Malkin’s kiddie stalking, while at the same time DE-LEGITIMIZING the media by condemning the feeding frenzy — that THEY carefully midwifed and nurtured — to attack the self-same media’s credibility!

Sweet jeebus!

If there is a Hall of Fame in Hell, where they keep this World’s Records of egregiously meretricious flat-out plain and fancy lying, this must certainly be a new World’s Record — if only for the Northern half of the Western Hemisphere. (I’m not the only one who’s noticed. And here and here and here.)

But, really, we ought to understand how this works by now.

Prime Directive: Control the Media Cycle (Conversation)

Mission Accomplished. We’re talking about this P.T. Barnum stunt of “Celebrity for a Day.” And, if he is Palinesque enough, they’re TAKING HIM ON TOUR!

Tactic: Stage upstaging stunts

Mission Accomplished. The whole kerfuffle is now obsessed with the Public Relations Golem “Joe the Plumber.” This is another stitched together from mediagenic parts Frankenstein of a disinformation blitz. If you can’t recognize ’em by now, you haven’t been paying attention. Remember, Bush the Smarter made the “Pledge of Alliegance” and “Card-Carrying Member of the American Civil Liberties Union” the “significant” issues of the 1988 campaign against Dukakis.

Tactic: Look over there!

Mission Accomplished.

The Rovian Campaign of McCain uses linguistic sleight of hand the way Wilfred Brimley uses Quaker Oatmeal. Last night on David Letterman, I watched John McCain never finish a sentence or a slur, yet convey exactly what he wanted to convey in a performance of brilliant duplicity. Astonishing. You don’t have to be corrosively evil in order to appreciate a brilliant performance work in the medium.

The trick to defeating them?

Turn the lens around.

They are always keeping the conversation AWAY from something that they ALWAYS telegraph.

They are so used to acting as the Invisible Man (as Frank Rich wisely noted, “ONCE Toto parts the curtain, the Wizard of Oz can never be the wizard again.” NYTimes, 18 Sept. 2005) that they’ve gotten sloppy.

The Invisible Man can easily be tracked — they forget — through the snow, or, in this case, the snow job.

(And the drifts are as large as we’ve ever seen in these here parts, pilgrim.)

Their — seemingly sole — operant philosophy of “I know you are but what am I?” gives it away every time. When Cindy McCain says that Obama is running “the dirtiest campaign of all time,” it means that the Rovian Campaign of McCain is doing precisely that. (Of course, their self-estimation might be a wee tad off.) When John McCain squeals “kerfuffle ACORN!” it keeps the conversation away from the astounding fact that while 200,000 new voters were registered in Colorado this year, magically, there are now 100,000 FEWER voters registered statewide. Fuzzy math.

And the shameless display of lawsuits in Ohio BY the Republicans to disenfranchise as many voters as possible. (Quashed today by the US Supreme Court.)

WHY are the Republicans against people voting?

Well, again, it sort of telegraphs where they’re coming from, doesn’t it?


Names are weirdly important in this election cycle. As they rudely use the term Democrat as an adjective, as in Bob Dole’s “Democrat wars,” so, too, making fun of people’s looks and names are important to this election.

“Barack” is often, sneeringly, referred to as “Barry,” as though a society that would force a child to “Americafy” his name just to get along is not going to accept that we all, by law and by custom, have the right to be called by the name we choose, so long as there is no intent to defraud. Costs you ten bucks in California to change your name on your driver’s license.

How do YOU feel when somebody makes fun of your name? Do you countenance anybody over the age of, say, eight years old doing it to anyone?

And they LOVE to stress “Hussein” which is just flat-out racist. We can’t all be named Percy Worthington Smyth-Dodd III. They’d do the same thing if his middle name was “Walking Eagle.” This whole stupid Republican viral campaign has been about racism without ever having to use a slur: The Hate That Dare Not Speak Its Name.

But a deaf fruitbat could tell what’s going on. It’s damned ugly.

Is this what anybody wants four more years of?

But, while this hebephrenic memeing flowers, it never occurs to them what psychic damage they’re wishing on the kids who’ll pick up this casually cruel, sadistic stuff and use it to bully some poor kid with a funny name. Like “Joe.” Cruelty begets cruelty, and decent folk need to just shut their minds to it. This Limbaugh Nation of low sniggering has got to be held accountable for their slanders, and not lionized for their libels.

But, really, if you think about it for a nanosecond, what kind of infantile mind resorts to the tricks of the playground bully as a mode of governance, and the preferred means of communication?

And WHAT does that telegraph about how they think of their fellow citizens?

You do the math.

After all, the price of liberty is the common agreement to seek consensus and accept compromise. Without these, government of the people, by the people, and for the people perishes from the Earth.

These public relations terrorists must be stopped from making any more strikes against the right of a free people to wisely select those that govern them. They seem to believe that it’s OK to set off firecrackers in a filled auditorium. It takes us saying, gently and with only firm conviction, and not cudgel nor prod: “No.”

Offhand, I’d say the only legitimate response is choose, all of us, to move the conversation in a different direction, and if they want to squawk and squall, well, that’s their privilege. The United States of America has always had more than its fair share of certifiable loons. (Comes of being kicked out of every other respectable and not so much country on Earth.)

Is this really what ANYBODY wants another four years of? Because, I promise you, McCain won’t stop doing stuff like this magically if he’s elected. We’re being shown the real face behind the mask, as though the Invisible Man were lying face down in fresh fallen snow.

But, good grief.

And, can’t we pick another name than ‘Joe’ to anoint as dumbo-Everyman the Truck Driver?

How do think all the boys named “Joe” growing up in America feel about having their name dragged through the muck this way? Just because the media Machiavellis behind the Rovian Campaign of McCain wanted to give “Joe SixPack” a face? Just let’s lay off America’s Joes for awhile, OK? Let’s pick another name for awhile, and let HIM be the “truck driver.”

Especially YOU, Sidney boy. Just leave the “Joes” the hell alone. (John Sidney McCain).

How about ‘George’?

Pretty much anybody in the world would pick up the meaning instantly, anyhow. Six Pack George. Sloppy Georges. George Schmoe. An average George. Ordinary George. George Camel.

I’m not so sure about George Cool, though.

I might nominate ‘Dick’ but that’s pretty well cornered the market for political evil.

Heck, the plumber guy’s not really named “Joe” anyway. His first name’s Sam.

Heh heh.



cross-posted from his vorpal sword.
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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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3 Responses to On Behalf of Our National Joes

  1. Darrell Prows says:

    The best rant I’ve ever seen! And the only thing that makes me feel alright about the fact that it’s all right on the money is that it is just not going to work this time. For the first time this brilliantly executed campaign is going to go nowhere because the average personal pain threshhold is high enough to drown out all of the background noise like this.

  2. Hart Williams says:

    Thank you Darrell. You’re right: it’s all white noise, but they seem to be cleaning out their rhetorical septic tanks in the last couple of weeks. I expect the roar will get louder, but no more effective.

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