That debate wasn’t about Joe the Plumber

By pams
Thursday, October 16, 2008 10:07 EDT
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(BTW, Joe the Plumber isn’t registered to vote.)

Despite being mentioned 27 times during Wednesday’s debate, Joe The Plumber Wurzelbacher wasn’t the big news of the head-to-head between Barack Obama and John McCain. IMHO, it was the final, no-mistakes-about-it repudiation of the presidency of George W. Bush by the man topping the ticket of the Republican party in 2008:

MCCAIN: Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago. I’m going to give a new direction to this economy in this country.

…OBAMA: Even FOX News disputes it, and that doesn’t happen very often when it comes to accusations about me. So the fact of the matter is that if I occasionally have mistaken your policies for George Bush’s policies, it’s because on the core economic issues that matter to the American people, on tax policy, on energy policy, on spending priorities, you have been a vigorous supporter of President Bush.

The man who voted with the current president 90% of the time just undermined his candidacy and illuminated why John McCain can’t close the deal. And the Obama campaign capitalized on it with this new ad:

McCAIN: Senator Obama, I am not President Bush.
ANNC: True…but you did vote with Bush 90% of the time.
ANNC: Tax breaks for big corporations and the wealthy
ANNC: But almost nothing for the middle class – same as Bush.
ANNC: Keep spending ten billion a month in Iraq while our own economy struggles – same as Bush.
ANNC: You may not be George Bush, but…
MCCAIN: I voted with the President over 90% of the time…higher than a lot of my even Republican colleagues.

Even McCain, by his own statements during the debate, has had enough of Republican rule. Unfortunately, his campaign and party represents Einstein’s definition of insanity: McCain and the GOP plan to do the same thing over and over again — lower taxes, deregulate — and expect different results.

The country is coming to the realization that they have been pickpocketed by the party of its own prosperity, and now it’s being led not by the jocular frat boy you want to have a beer with, but an angry, nasty, erratic man of many mansions who is out of touch with the economic reality being experienced out there.

There were several other nuggets in the debate that were meaningful of course. More below the fold. * McCain won’t take responsibility for the hate-filled rhetoric fomented by his negative campaigning. He claimed that he’s repudiated all of those infamous incidents we’ve seen out there, but hey — his supporters are patriotic.

MCCAIN: Let me just say categorically I’m proud of the people that come to our rallies. Whenever you get a large rally of 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 people, you’re going to have some fringe peoples. You know that. And I’ve — and we’ve always said that that’s not appropriate.

But to somehow say that group of young women who said “Military wives for McCain” are somehow saying anything derogatory about you, but anything — and those veterans that wear those hats that say “World War II, Vietnam, Korea, Iraq,” I’m not going to stand for people saying that the people that come to my rallies are anything but the most dedicated, patriotic men and women that are in this nation and they’re great citizens.

He tried to divert attention from the bigotry of his supporters to hide behind a man McCain formerly considered a hero, Congressman John Lewis. Obama smacked the senator down hard.

OBAMA: I mean, look, if we want to talk about Congressman Lewis, who is an American hero, he, unprompted by my campaign, without my campaign’s awareness, made a statement that he was troubled with what he was hearing at some of the rallies that your running mate was holding, in which all the Republican reports indicated were shouting, when my name came up, things like “terrorist” and “kill him,” and that you’re running mate didn’t mention, didn’t stop, didn’t say “Hold on a second, that’s kind of out of line.”

And I think Congressman Lewis’ point was that we have to be careful about how we deal with our supporters.

* Reproductive freedom: McCain believes in state womb control, and that it is a matter that should be left to the states to recriminalize, Obama believes a woman has the right to choose.

SCHIEFFER: But you don’t want Roe v. Wade to be overturned?

MCCAIN: I thought it was a bad decision. I think there were a lot of decisions that were bad. I think that decisions should rest in the hands of the states…I would consider anyone in their qualifications. I do not believe that someone who has supported Roe v. Wade that would be part of those qualifications. But I certainly would not impose any litmus test.

…OBAMA: Now I would not provide a litmus test. But I am somebody who believes that Roe versus Wade was rightly decided. I think that abortion is a very difficult issue and it is a moral issue and one that I think good people on both sides can disagree on. But what ultimately I believe is that women in consultation with their families, their doctors, their religious advisers, are in the best position to make this decision. And I think that the Constitution has a right to privacy in it that shouldn’t be subject to state referendum, any more than our First Amendment rights are subject to state referendum, any more than many of the other rights that we have should be subject to popular vote.

* We learned last night that McCain thinks Sarah Palin is a role model who is a “Bresh of freth air.” The man who has as his slogan “Country First” clearly didn’t have that in mind when he chose the wholly unprepared Alaska governor as his running mate.

(“Fresh air” remark 2:49 in.)

MCCAIN: Well, Americans have gotten to know Sarah Palin. They know that she’s a role model to women and other — and reformers all over America. She’s a reformer. She is — she took on a governor who was a member of her own party when she ran for governor. When she was the head of their energy and natural resources board, she saw corruption, she resigned and said, “This can’t go on.”

She’s given money back to the taxpayers. She’s cut the size of government. She negotiated with the oil companies and faced them down, a $40 billion pipeline of natural gas that’s going to relieve the energy needs of the United — of what they call the lower 48.

She’s a reformer through and through. And it’s time we had that bresh of freth air (sic) — breath of fresh air coming into our nation’s capital and sweep out the old-boy network and the cronyism that’s been so much a part of it that I’ve fought against for all these years.

He didn’t go on to state how she’s qualified to be president, either. And reform corruption? Hell, she’s part of the problem up in her home state. And it’s hard to sell this ticket as reform oriented with little matters like this…whoops!

Early in 2007, just as her husband launched his presidential bid, Cindy McCain decided to resolve an old problem — the lack of cellular telephone coverage on her remote 15-acre ranch near Sedona, nestled deep in a tree-lined canyon called Hidden Valley. By the time Sen. John McCain’s presidential bid was in full swing this summer, the ranch had wireless coverage from the two cellular companies most often used by campaign staff — Verizon Wireless and AT&T.

Even Joe the Plumber can’t distract anyone from the debacle we saw last night.

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