John McCain accused Barack Obama of being an elitist. He then trotted out "Joe the Plumber" to symbolize that he, unlike Obama, stood in solidarity with the American middle class. That made for great theater, but like John McCain himself, it soon became clear that Joe the Plumber maintained a strained relationship with truth.
In an October 11 encounter with Barack Obama, Joe the Plumber, or Joseph Wurzelbacher, told Obama that he was a plumber who was about to buy the business from his employer. He said the business generated between 250 and $280,000 a year. It turned out, however, that none of that was true. Wurzelbacher's scenario was contrived in an attempt to show that Obama's tax plan would hurt those in the middle class who were struggling to improve their plight.
The fact is "Joe the Plumber" has neither a plumber's license, nor has he ever served an apprenticeship as a plumber. The United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics Union indicated that he applied for an apprenticeship in 2003, but never completed the program. It was also revealed that he only made $40,000 a year, and thus, probably not in any position to purchase a business. In fact, he's currently in debt to the government for $1182.92 in unpaid taxes.
In another case, Ashley Todd, a 20 year old college student and McCain volunteer, reported that she was robbed and assaulted by 6'4" Black man. She claimed that she was at an ATM when a Black man came up behind her and put a knife to her throat. She said she gave him $60 and started to walk away, but then the man saw a McCain sticker on her car and hit her in the back of the head, knocking her down. The assailant told her, "You are going to be a Barack supporter," as he continued to kick and beat her. Then he said, I'm going to "teach you a lesson for being a McCain supporter." He then held her down and scratched a "B" on her right cheek.
There was only one problem with her story, the "B" was carved in backwards-as though done while looking into a mirror. Todd later admitted that she made up the story.
So there seems to be a pattern here-both Joe the Plumber and Ashley Todd are perfect metaphors for the lying, hypocrisy, and lack of character that's been a pervasive part of the McCain campaign. Further evidence of that is, the "straight talk express" notwithstanding, the McCain campaign seems to be made up of two separate camps-one supporting McCain, and the other supporting Palin, his running mate-but in their favor, both camps seems to have sense enough not to trust the other.
It has become clear that truth, character, and integrity, to both McCain, Palin, and many of their supporters, represents whatever they can get away with. They're like a den of thieves, whose only loyalty to one another is in pursuit of their unconsionable ambition and greed.
They've become so desperately engrossed in their rampant thirst for power that they've lost all perspective on political, or any other kind of reality. Even as the McCain camp was criticizing Obama for what some surrogates characterized as the arrogant extravagance of using his campaign jet to fly to the bedside of his gravely ill grandmother, McCain's vice-presidential running mate, Sarah Palin, was strutting around in her new $150,000 wardrobe that had been purchased by the campaign. They had completely lost touch with the fact that such extravagance wouldn't play well while they were trying to align themselves with Joe the Plumber's middle class. How could they possibly claim that they were in touch with the plight of the middle class, when they spent $23,500 more on Sarah's clothes than Joe the Plumber's home worth? And beyond that, they paid Sarah's stylist $23,800 for two week's work. Now, who's the elitist?
And now that they've been caught with their skivvies down, the only thing they can think of is to cry sexism. They're saying that if Sarah was a man clothes wouldn't be an issue. Speaking of elitist! They must think the American people are so stupid that we don't realize that clothes are not the issue-the issue is their recklessly vulgar spending, while Americans are losing their homes. And besides, how can they reconcile their claim of sexism in light of all of the fuss they made over Sen. John Edwards' "designer haircut"? Was that sexist as well?
Elitism is defined by the American Heritage Dictionary as follows: "The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources." I'd say buying Sarah a wardrobe that cost over $23,000 more than many of your supporters' homes easily meets that standard. I'd also say, spending $23,800 to have Sarah's hair done for two weeks meets that standard as well.
Question: How can a man whose father, and grandfather, were both admirals in the navy, thereby, giving him a free pass through the naval academy-in spite of severely "challenged" academic qualifications-and a man who has to refer to his staff to find out how many homes he owns, have the nerve to call a man who had to struggle through life, and get through college on scholarships, an elitist?
Just the thought of McCain calling Obama elitist is ridiculous, and it clearly demonstrates two things-first, we've allowed McCain to redefine the word "elitist"; and secondly, he is so elitist himself that he thinks the American people are stupid. And you know what? To a very real extent we are.
We've allowed the Republican Party to convince us that intellectual curiosity, and the active pursuit of excellence through knowledge is elitism. We've also allowed them to teach us that it's good to be dumb, and anyone who isn't should be suspect, because if they have sense, they couldn't possibly be "one of us."
Eric L. Wattree