Forrest Plumber

Wait, what?

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. He’s apparently not a fan of the economic rescue package, according to members of the group.

I think it’s nice that the GOP has found its new BFF with Joe the Plumber, but if memory serves correctly, every time Mr. Wurzelbacher opens his mouth on the issues of the day, ignorance vomits forth in rushing gouts. I believe the GOP is packaging this as “wisdom from the heartland,” but speaking as one in the heartland, dude, it’s just ignorance. And what’s not ignorance is a GOP talking point, so I expect from the GOP point of view, whatever Joe says is going to be pure gold. He makes so much sense! He’s saying things we’ve always believed! Well, yes.

This is not to disparage Mr. Wurzelbacher for being an opportunist, incidentally, and if you are of a mind to, here’s a quiz for you:

Hey, you’re a bald, chunky, blue-collar nobody from a crappy little midwest town! By chance, you find yourself thrust into the national spotlight and have a chance to do something more interesting with your life than sit in your crappy little midwest town and get balder and chunkier. Do you:

a) Say, “no thanks, I’d rather stay a nobody”;

b) Do all the wacky crap everybody asks you to do for as long as you possibly can, because in your heart you know it will never ever get any better than this for you for as long as you might possibly live.

Take your time on that one, people.

So, no: I don’t blame Joe the Plumber one bit for taking up the invitation to talk strategy with the GOP, or fly to the mideast, or any other thing he might be offered to do that sounds interesting to him. Dude’s living the dream, man. As long as they keep letting him, why shouldn’t he. I support Wurzelbacher milking this thing. Good for him. I hope he’s having fun. I suspect he is.

The real question is not what Joe’s doing, but what the hell the GOP’s thinking. Maybe they haven’t been keeping up with current events, but the last guy who hitched his wagon to Joe the Plumber found that wagon in the ditch. Joe the Plumber is an everyman, perhaps, but he’s the sort of everyman who got outvoted by all the other sorts of everymen out there, and whose numbers appear to be shrinking as time goes on in any event. Which is to say that it’s good for Joe the Plumber that the GOP wants to hear from him; it’s probably not so great for the GOP.

168 thoughts on “Forrest Plumber

  1. I’m not balding or chunky (yet) but I am a nobody from a crappy little midwest town. I would still hope I had enough dignity to not be a complete tool if I found myself in that situation. I don’t think I could live with myself if I took the road he did.

    Heck, I still have problems occasionally feeling like a sell-out because I have a decent paying job and have to wear a suit every day.

  2. Between this, and the number of Republicans who think Sarah Palin is the direction the party should take in the future, I’ve concluded that the GOP is stupid.

    This worries me a lot.

  3. Sean Eric Fagan:

    And, well. It should worry you. I’m not fan of the GOP of late, but I’d prefer not to have one of the two major parties be an active repository of stupid.

  4. Zombie Kid likes Turtles… LOL that’s awesome….. uh what was this post about again… OH YEAH Joe the Plumber!

    Well being from Canada I’m not that up to date on what Joe is or isn’t doing but from what small research I’ve taken on I’m not all that impressed…. I can’t belive that he is deluded in to thinking that people care and when he has having such a narrow view…. yeah not my cup of tea!

  5. “I can’t belive that he is deluded in to thinking that people care and when he has having such a narrow view”

    To be fair to Joe the Plumber, the fact he’s been invited to strategize with the GOP suggests that someone cares what he thinks, quite a bit.

  6. “I’d prefer not to have one of the two major parties be an active repository of stupid.”

    Be fair. The stupid need representation, too.

    “the fact he’s been invited to strategize with the GOP suggests that someone cares what he thinks, quite a bit.”

    Enough said.

  7. I liked the GOP better when their Plumbers were under the aegis of White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman and his college student election ballot-stuffing buddy John Ehrlichman, having been invented by Henry Kissinger and special counsel Charles Colson, David Young, and Egil Krogh.

    The stars of the show included E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy (who coined his own sensitivity indicator for the group in the form of “ODESSA” for “Organization Directed to Eliminate the Subversion of the Secrets of the Administration”), and its liaison to the CIA, John Paisley.

    THOSE were the good old days!

  8. Maybe a bit naive on my part?? Maybe good that the average “joe” has some say or atleast the GOP acknowledge their existance.

  9. I’m a Republican. And I support Joe (aka the Plumber) and Sarah Palin both. I must be an idiot. Though I suspect that many of the criticisms directed at them are motivated by malice, ignorance and/or (charitably) an unwillingness to accept that rationale minds can come to differing conclusions when analyzing the same facts/issues.

  10. stevem:

    “I must be an idiot.”

    No; you may simply have really poor taste in your leaders and idols.

    I’m not motivated by malice or ignorance as regards either Wurzelbacher or Palin; they’re just both appallingly ignorant about the world and make such evident every time they open their mouths. I do think the modern GOP has a fetishistic obsession with ignorant-yet-popular leaders, which is one reason it’s where it is at the moment.

  11. I don’t have any problem with the major parties listening to “the people,” but I question the wisdom of allowing Joe to help with strategy. As John has pointed out, Joe says plenty of ingnorant stuff. I don’t see this as a good thing at all and wonder if the GOP can sink any lower.

    As a somewhat right-leaning independent who votes for people from both parties, I prefer to have intelligent candidates to choose from. I don’t see any benefit to having one party having almost complete control over the government.

  12. Hey, you’re a bald, chunky, blue-collar nobody from a crappy little midwest town! By chance, you find yourself thrust into the national spotlight and have a chance to do something more interesting with your life than sit in your crappy little midwest town and get balder and chunkier. Do you:

    a) Say, “no thanks, I’d rather stay a nobody”;

    b) Do all the wacky crap everybody asks you to do for as long as you possibly can, because in your heart you know it will never ever get any better than this for you for as long as you might possibly live.
    I was going to suggest option c) Write a few damn good SF novels instead, but I think that’s already been taken.

  13. NAtTIP:

    “I was going to suggest option c) Write a few damn good SF novels instead, but I think that’s already been taken.”

    Heh. I’m not especially blue collar, myself. That said, I would be delighted to see a Joe the Plumber science fiction epic.

  14. “Heh. I’m not especially blue collar, myself. That said, I would be delighted to see a Joe the Plumber science fiction epic.”

    Joe totally unplugs him some alien toilets? I’d buy that.

  15. Scalzi is from California. He only moved to Ohio. I think he did this because he wanted to buck the system and not be like all those other sheep who move from the Midwest to California. Plus, I understand they don’t get earthquakes much.

    The fact that the GOP is relying on Joe the Plumber says buckets about their ignorance and contempt for “the heartland”. The Midwest is full of blue-collar folks who think Joe the Plumber is a fucking idiot, but apparently as long as the right gesture of listening-ness is made, everybody in “the heartland” will be so touched by this patronizing gesture that they’ll run right out and vote Republican.

  16. I love to see “average” people becoming involved in politics. Our country was formed on that ideal. However, it seems that most “average” people are ignorant. Even some of my best college friends, who are now engineers, seem totally ignorant of world politics, so that’s not just a “slam” against uneducated people. Hopefully, as people like Joe become involved, more people will take an interest and some of that ignorance will dissolve.

  17. Mythago:

    “The Midwest is full of blue-collar folks who think Joe the Plumber is a fucking idiot, but apparently as long as the right gesture of listening-ness is made, everybody in “the heartland” will be so touched by this patronizing gesture that they’ll run right out and vote Republican.”

    Didn’t particularly work in Ohio the last time ’round, I’d note. Not sure why they think it’d work now. But I suppose they live in hope.

  18. I am a Republican who grew up in that ‘crappy little midwest town’. I have to say, Mr. Plumber and the direction the Republican Party is heading both have me scratching my head. If I had a part in choosing how the Republican Party progressed from here I am sure I would steer well clear of Joe. I would like to think that the Republican strategists would have the good sense to do the same. As for Joe the Plumber, anyone carrying around the bagging he is carrying ought to keep his head down.

  19. I maintain this is the final piece of evidence we need: Clearly, the top leadership of the GOP has been infiltrated by Democratic moles, intent on destroying the party from within. It’s the only explanation that makes sense.

  20. (Cross-posted from my blog)

    Joe has as much right as anybody else to offer his opinions. My question is, “what makes his opinions of any value?” Joe has no expertise in political campaigns, polling or winning elections. Nor is he a hero, and he’s not even a veteran. His sole claim to fame seems to be celebrity.

    Imagine, for a moment, the scorn that would be heaped on Democrats if Paris Hilton was invited to provide political advice to the Democratic Party. Justified scorn, mind you, since her sole claim to be at the table is that she’s famous for being famous. (Actually, you don’t have to use much imagination – remember McCain’s Obama = Paris Hilton ad?)

    Well, guess what – Joe is a poorer and not-as-good-looking Paris Hilton. He’s famous for being famous, and the Republican Party is apparently taking his advice seriously. What exactly does that say about the Republican Party?

  21. I have no problem with the “Joe the Plumber”/”Paris Hilton” analogy, but I’m outta here if he releases a sex tape.

    Just sayin’.

  22. What if he releases a sex tape … with Paris Hilton?

    Now, the Republican party is clearly out of touch – with the voting public, with reality, whichever. What I’m interested in is, if the GOP continues its death spiral downwards into obscurity, what party will emerge to claim the right wing of the White House aeroplane? A plane with only one wing won’t fly very well, after all. Has to be someone. But who? The Libertarians? The Fundamentalists? Some new party?

  23. At this point, defending the Republican party is like defending your favorite Adam Sandler film. At some point you have to realize you aren’t winning anyone over and are actively making people question your sanity.

  24. “I’d prefer not to have one of the two major parties be an active repository of stupid.”

    I am truly horrified at the thought of the GOP embracing stupid. Especially since the Dems already have that vote sewn up.

    I do however, find it interesting that a win in November seems to result in massively inflated egos for months after.

  25. The GOP’s courting of Joe the Plumber makes about as much sense as Sarah Palin for VP.

    One of the commenters above said that the GOP has been just plain stupid recently. As a conservative, I can’t disagree.

    This is bad news for the country. We now have two choices: one party that seems determined to drag us in the direction of moribund European-style socialism—and another party that is rapidly becoming a laughingstock.

    I’m glad that I decided not to vote Republicrat this time…even if my vote for Bob Barr was in fact a “wasted vote.”

  26. First the Republicans bend over backwars to kiss Rush Limbaugh’s ass, and now they’re taking strategy lessons from Joe The Plumber. It’s like a perfect storm of bigoted and stupid.

    Oh, and the RNC new Chairman thinks the party is doing nothing that could possibly alienate Latino voters, except possibly phrasing things wrongly.

    8 years of agreeing with W sucked all the brains out of the party.

    —–

    Jeremy @ # 20 – I love to see “average” people becoming involved in politics. Our country was formed on that ideal.

    Where are you getting that from? The people involved in politics at the time were far from “average”.

  27. “doing political strategy”
    Definition please, it’s not on Urban Dictionary. Yet.

    Well, based on the last eight years, I’d say doing political strategy would consist primarily of listening only to people who say what you want to hear. Joe the Plumber is a perfect oracle.

    So far “rebuilding the GOP” has been pretty much the Bush Iraq Doctrine in microcosm – i.e. hunker down and stay the course and get your intel from from guys like Joe. He’s from the midwest, he’s seen Iraq from a hotel window, and the only thing he knows about the economy is what he reads in that little ticker strip at the bottom of the FOX news channel – who better to get advice on the stimulus package from? It’s not like he’s going to tell the GOP that they’re all fucked up, he’s going to tell them exactly what they want to hear. Then they can claim they’re in touch with the common man. The fact that he’s on the schedule as a speaker say more about the GOP than it does about Joe the Plumber.

    I hear he’ll be saving the auto-industry next. Go, Joe!

  28. Josh @ 36: I was just thinking that that might be exactly what’s happened. Is it possible that everyone in the Republican party who disagreed with Bush – ie, most everyone with a brain – was exiled from the party for questioning Dear Leader? And if so, where are they now? Can they form the basis of a new center-right party that’s not built on the idea that if you just lie long enough for hard enough reality will change to fit your lies?

  29. “I’d prefer not to have one of the two major parties be an active repository of stupid.”

    Yes. In addition to not providing a foil for the other party which produces useful compromises, there exists the risk that the stupid party will distill it’s stupidity to a purity never before attained in the history of man, and then get elected President.

  30. Hey, you’re a bald, chunky, blue-collar nobody from a crappy little midwest town! By chance, you find yourself thrust into the national spotlight and have a chance to do something more interesting with your life than sit in your crappy little midwest town and get balder and chunkier.

    I’m not from a midwest town, or, indeed, the United States. But I’m willing to play anyway (also Neil the Data Analyst/Maths Tutor* would probably have the word “tall” appended to him)

    Do all the wacky crap everybody asks you to do for as long as you possibly can, because in your heart you know it will never ever get any better than this for you for as long as you might possibly live.

    I have officially adopted this as my philosophy of life, or at least the sub-heading on my blog, which is pretty close.

    More seriously, he seems to have asked a fairly smart question of Obama which caught people’s imagination. There’s something to be learned from that. It doesn’t mean he has to be in the room when you’re trying to figure out what though.

    * It just trips off the tongue! BTW If any political parties want me to ambush candidates with obvious questons, I’m available.

  31. Yes. In addition to not providing a foil for the other party which produces useful compromises, there exists the risk that the stupid party will distill it’s stupidity to a purity never before attained in the history of man, and then get elected President.

    Don’t worry. We’ll recover from Dubya, and now we know better. I hope.

  32. Joe seems to be the GOP’s Barack Obama — a nobody promoted to the highest levels of government based on an image. Except without all the free support from the media.

    So far, Obama’s doing about as well as Joe would. Well, maybe.

  33. I was wondering how far we’d get in this thread before someone made that abjectly stupid comparison, Just Me. And now I know.

    Really. Stupid just crawls off that statement.

    Jason B: Thanks for your restraint. Likewise, everyone else should feel free to ignore the stupid. I’ve handled it.

  34. From way over here, Oz, it looks like a the GOP are just exploiting Joe’s profile in a cynical populist exercise to make the great unwashed think they, the GOP, actually do give a damn what middle America thinks. They do not really give a shit what Joe thinks. Let’s wait and see if any of Joe’s strategies are enacted – assuming they were actually thunk up in Joe’s noggin that is.

  35. every time Mr. Wurzelbacher opens his mouth on the issues of the day, ignorance vomits forth in rushing gouts. I believe the GOP is packaging this as “wisdom from the heartland,” but speaking as one in the heartland, dude, it’s just ignorance.

    *snort*

    Think of him as a one-man focus group (yeah, I know, oxymoron) instead of a “strategist” and it kinda makes sense.

  36. John I am a fan of you. However, I think your intro was a little malicious. To those who live in the crappy midwest as well as Joe. I mean not every one in the midwest can be a great scifi writer. I think that if you would have made a majority of your comments about the GOP it would have been more effective as a piece of commentary.

    I think you might need a tall glass of beer.

    We are going to need a party for the working man in this country at some point though. But that’s not going to happen as long as the richest Americans set the political agenda. I’m hoping for a Libertarian surge at some point.

  37. Missouri Ruffian:

    “I think you might need a tall glass of beer.”

    I don’t drink. And noting that there are crappy towns in the midwest (and that Joe the Plumber lives in one) does not suggest the entire midwest is crappy.

    I doubt very seriously the Libertarians are going to get their act together enough to be a serious political force, outside of the ones already banging around in the GOP. It’s also a serious argument as to whether libertarianism would be considered the party of the “working man,” especially if the working man sees any value in doing anything collectively.

  38. #39 John H: In addition to not providing a foil for the other party which produces useful compromises, there exists the risk that the stupid party will distill its stupidity to a purity never before attained in the history of man, and then get elected President.

    Exactly, dude. If the last 8 years have taught us anything–and that remains to be seen–it’s that being qualified and being electable are two distinctly different things. So, yes, I hope the GOP gets smarter, for all our sakes, because sooner or later they’re going to be back in the White House.

  39. I’m a bald, chunky, white-collar dude from a crappy town in the Midwest. In addition, I’m not nearly as goodlooking (!) as Joe the Plumber.

    I rather think my reaction to being thrust into the national spotlight would be “Oh no! The light! It burrrrns! Aieeee!” and a dive back into the nearest shadow.

    If not, though, I’d play Cwazy Leftie, with a weekly goal of “see if I can make Rush Limbaugh’s head explode.”

  40. Actually, the most recent election showed that being qualified and electable are definitely two wildly divergent things, as note the current occupant of the White House.

    Actually, I feel a bit sorry for Barack, as he cannot hope to live up to what is expected of him.

  41. Oh, and as to John’s question about options a or b, I’d prefer to take option b, but jump straight to the sex scandal that brings everything crashing down.

    Oh, wait, these are Republicans, so the sex scandal would probably not be to my liking. Nevermind…

  42. John writes:

    “I doubt very seriously the Libertarians are going to get their act together enough to be a serious political force, outside of the ones already banging around in the GOP. It’s also a serious argument as to whether libertarianism would be considered the party of the “working man,” especially if the working man sees any value in doing anything collectively.”

    ********
    Although I voted Libertarian as a protest this time, I tend to care more about Libertarian values than I do about the Libertarian Party. Third parties don’t have a very encouraging history in the U.S.

    But what about libertarian values? It is a lot more than the caricature you often cite: “Get off my property so I can go smoke a bowl”–or something to that effect.

    The size of the government (under the Democrats *and* the recent incarnation of the Republicans) does threaten to turn the U.S. into the next France. I am in favor of reasonable collective measures like strong public schools. But nationalization of the financial and auto industries? Sorry–that’s too close to socialism for my tastes. Moreover, the size of the current “stimulus package” potentially sets us up for hyperinflation in a few years.

    This is where we need libertarians like Ron Paul as a dissenting voice.

    Obama also seems to be falling in to the same foreign policy traps that the Bush Administration got caught up in: unconditional support for Israel (both Obama and Hillary have received a lot of AIPAC dollars over the years), NATO expansion to the borders of Russia, and similar measures that will force us to maintain large overseas military commitments.

    This is why I cringe every time I read another giddy blog entry about the “diversity” of the Obama Administration. There is no real diversity of ideas here…This is more of the same.

  43. …does threaten to turn the U.S. into the next France
    Hey, what’s wrong with France? You make it sound like a bad thing. They have cheese and wine and fois gras…

  44. I think it’s quite possible that George W. Bush was the last Republican president. I don’t know that the Libertarians are likely to be a viable third party, though; I think it’s more likely that at some point down the road, the Democrats will split into a centrist, business-friendly party and a very liberal party.

    The GOP’s just clearly in their death throes. The only people who vote Republican in large numbers any more are white Christians, and they’re down to about 40% of the population and shrinking. They’ve alienated young people, blacks, Hispanics, and non-Christians, and they’re going to be paying for that at the polls for a long time. Add to that the fact that driving those people away means all that’s left in the party is a hard-right, Sarah Palin-style rump, and you’ve got a self-reinforcing death spiral that’s going to leave them as a more or less permanent minority party.

    The Democrats went through a couple of decades in the wilderness, and responded by getting pragmatic and nominating Bill Clinton, a centrist who was focused on real solutions to people’s problems. The Republicans can learn from that example and get realistic, or they can nominate Sarah Palin in four years and watch President Obama swallow her whole and spit out the bones. The fact that they’re consulting with Joe the Plumber instead of Larry the Economist on what to do about the economy suggests to me that the latter course is more likely.

  45. Joe seems to be the GOP’s Barack Obama — a nobody promoted to the highest levels of government based on an image. Except without all the free support from the media.

    At the risk of feeding the troll, I have to say that perhaps Just Me’s response carries with it the whiff of plausibility, if you consider that the GOP might just actually be looking at it that way and banking on it working out the way it did for Obama.

    However, since the bulk of the GOP just aren’t experienced with nor particularly interested in understanding hoi polloi on a real-world level, what’s happened instead is that they’ve created what amounts to a cargo cult of Obama.

    They trot out what looks to them like a GOP version of the Obamanation grassroots wunderkind and invite him to lofty events to imbue his image with a magical aura of importance and relevance. Only, like bamboo planes and coconut runway lights, it’s all form and no substance.

    Unfortunately for them, given their smug, self-congratulatory attempts at “getting down of the level of the common man”, it’s plain to see that they conversely view themselves as inherently superior to those blue-color folks. So, rightly, they come across as clueless, patronizing and buffoonish in their still-fold-wrinkled-from-the-store blue work shirts and $300 khakis, gladhanding people they’d never consider socializing with and assuring us all that they understand the problems of middle class Americans because they once spent a few hours doing photo ops hammering in a nail on a Habitat for Humanity site (and probably costing that site several days of progress to do so).

    That’s the thing about all this – you either get it or you don’t. Obama got it. These guys…the best they can do is mimic the behaviors and hope it triggers whatever “magic” happened to Obama (and I really do feel that many of the GOP party rightists believe it really was a fluke, a mob rule event or a mystical, supernatural thing, and not a considered, thought-out and consciously chosen response to the previous eight years).

  46. Isn’t it fun to watch Mitch McConnell squirm? Actually, it’s not. I like the guy and wish he was playing on a better team.

    I disagree that the Republicans are in death throes, but let’s be honest here. They are going to spend a LOT of time in the wilderness before it gets any better for them.

    And if they don’t get a clue soon, there are the libs, the Tax Payer’s Union, the Constitution Party, and even the Democrats, assuming the Greens eventually rise to viable national status, all perfectly willing to take their place.

    Then again, GOP, fret not. Obama may be The One, but he’s gotta deal with Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, kinder, gentler versions of the Republican asshats they replaced.

    Which is kinda like saying Franco was a nicer guy than Hitler.

  47. Say what you like but Joe the Plumber’s foibles are small potatoes compared to all the wrongness opined by Bill the Kristol.

  48. EarBucket 56: I think it’s quite possible that George W. Bush was the last Republican president.

    Oh, man. What a lovely dream that is to dream. But if you build your life on dreams, it’s prudent to recall: a man with moonlight in his hand holds nothing there at all.

    While I deeply believe that the GOP should be driven entirely out of American politics, forever, I don’t really think that’s going to happen. Even the Democrats don’t want that.

  49. And, well. It should worry you. I’m not fan of the GOP of late, but I’d prefer not to have one of the two major parties be an active repository of stupid.

    Certainly not, Mr Scalzi. Then again, I’m beginning to wonder about the other party that didn’t think to go through Tom Daschle’s tax records with a fine-toothed nit-pick BEFORE putting him up for Health and Human Services Secretary.

    Again, I think the Administration is going to get another pass, because the GOP doesn’t have any moral high to posture on when it comes to dubious ethics, poor judgement and flat out incompetence. But it’s going to be an undeserved one.

    And call me a crank, but I think the political credibility and judgement of someone who was nominated to oversee a major overhaul of the health system is a wee bit more important than Joe the Fraking Plumber.

  50. I’m amused how Americans keep stating how scared they are of the Democrats turning their country into France or Europe. How is it a bad thing? FYI, I’m an Aussie who has visited London and Rome, and they seemed to be doing ok to me.

  51. I do think it’s interesting that Obama’s response to that was to say “I screwed up.”

    Sure, but as my late Nanna used to say, “The apology is all very nice, but it would have been better if you hadn’t hot-glued that bacon to the cat/called your mother ‘a giant sack of dirty douche-water’/set fire to the kitchen in the first place’.”

    I don’t know about anyone else, but one thing I like about Obama is that I think he’s smart enough not to screw up in the first place — and actually believes what he says about lifting standards and expectations in public life. So I make no apologies for holding him to those standards.

  52. John @63: I’m impressed that we hear, less than a month from his taking office, the words that we haven’t yet heard in eight years and counting from the previous holder of that office.

  53. By chance, you find yourself thrust into the national spotlight

    See, that’s where I think you are making the mistake. Chance wasn’t involved at all. Mr Wurzelbacher (who is/was not a plumber, or a Joe, or a swing voter, or looking to buy a business, all of which he claimed at the time) made an effort to talk to Obama. Whatever Obama might have said to him would have been spun, because that was the point of the exercise.

    Now, the fact that the GOP and the rightosphere have hung their wagon on him is a sad commentary on their fortunes and future, but that’s another story.

  54. John, it was an interesting response. The response everyone was expecting from him, based on his past history, was to say ‘that’s not the Tom Daschle I knew” and throw him under the bus. So maybe he is growing a bit in office. Of course, he ruins it a bit by going on to add that he still thought Daschle was the best candidate for the job.

    Back to the original topic, it’s a general rule that you probably shouldn’t take political advice from the opposition, they’ll never have your best interests in mind. So I wouldn’t think that the GOP would want John’s advice. He wants the GOP to be just like the Democrats, except with slightly lower taxes, I’d bet, which would leave the GOP with a base of about 5%, because most people, given the choice between Democrat and Democrat Lite will choose Democrat.

    Similarly, the Democrats would probably be foolish to take political advice from me. I mean, sure, I’d be really happy if the other party hadn’t completely abrogated its responsibilities on national security and had such a poor record on civil liberties. If that had been the case, they’d have gotten my vote this time around for sure, because the GOP candidate was so poor. But had they done that, they’d have totally lost the far left that makes up their base.

  55. Dr. Paisley:

    Well, lots of people went out of their way to talk to Obama. That people seized upon JtP’s bit more than others — and that there was a ridiculous amount of follow through — was one of those “just happened” things.

  56. My two cents:

    I *like* living in the Midwest. But I live in a city, not a town, so I guess I don’t really have a say in the matter.

    With regards to the seemingly endless supply of stupidity, here’s some appropriate words attributed to Albert Einstein: “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.”

  57. O.K. John, you pulled me out of lurk mode. ;)

    IMO JtP is still just a faux publicity stunt. If he can help them keep making a laughing stock out of themselves, more power to him.

    EarBucket @ 56

    Based on my reading of political history, should the Repubs stay on the current course into Whigdom, the Democratic party *will* eventually split into Progressive and Centrist parties from the current prog./centrist wings. I think you’re right on this but it won’t happen anytime soon as too many rich/powerful/connected people/groups have too much invested in the current status quo to let it happen easily.

  58. For the people up in arms about the crappy Midwest town remark: Dude. He is mocking Toledo. It’s like you are all rushing to scold New Yorkers for making new Jersey jokes.

    It is a lot more than the caricature you often cite: “Get off my property so I can go smoke a bowl”

    Indeed. He left out the porn, which is a grievous omission.

  59. Way back at #21, our host wrote, “Didn’t particularly work in Ohio the last time ’round, I’d note. Not sure why they think it’d work now. But I suppose they live in hope.”

    Or maybe they live on the banks of Denial.

  60. Can I say that all these “the Republican party is in their death throes” remember me of the four years ago “The Democratic party is finished, America is a conservative country”? And look what just happened.

  61. The main reason I was thrilled with the Obama victory is because he seems to think being smart and well-educated are important things. The GOP continues to hold these qualities in contempt, and frankly I think the country that put men on the Moon deserves better than that. It’s sad that the only viable opposition party has embraced doctrinaire dimmitude and a hypocritical laudation of “The Common Man” as their platform.

    Can’t help but notice that there’s an awfully large number of uneducated folks out there. Get them all up out of their La-Z-Boys and it might just be Palin/Plumber 2012. Less probable things have happenned.

  62. Giacomo@74: There were a lot of people saying “Permanent Republican Majority” in 2004. Those people weren’t looking at the demographic facts in this country.

    There’s simply no way for the Republicans to win a presidential election any more without capturing the Latino vote, and as they grow as a percentage of the population, they’re only going to get more critical. They’ll make up a quarter of the country in forty years. Two-thirds of Hispanics voted for Obama.

    Do you really see the GOP endearing itself to this particular voter bloc any time soon? A party that was sane on immigration and not dependent on whipping up racism and nativism, sure. But I think a political party that ran a campaign premised on the idea that a man with brown skin wasn’t a real American like you and me is going to have a hard time making that pivot.

    Add to that the fact that people’s political leanings tend to be heavily influenced by the man who was president when they were in their teens and twenties. People who grew up under FDR became a generation of lifelong Democrats. People who lived through the turmoil of Carter and the stability of Reagan became loyal Republicans. What do you think is going to happen to the generation whose idea of politics is that Republicans are like George W. Bush and Democrats are like Barack Obama?

  63. Assuming that we’re not being purely partisan here, what’s the ignorance that vomits forth?

    It’s a genuine question, I didn’t follow Joe’s stint in the Middle East and I didn’t pay the same attention to him during the campaign that so many others did.

  64. Patrick@78–the example that leaps to mind is his opining, while acting as a war correspondent in a war zone, that the media should be banned from reporting on war.

  65. So you’re basically admitting that the Democrats don’t give a damn what ordinary Americans think? Surprisingly honest of you.

  66. Inasmuch as there’s absolutely no discussion of the Democrats and what they think about anyone in the article at all, MiniTru, no, not really. I will admit, however, that it appears you have the ability to magically make assumptions about things that are not in evidence, based on discussions that have nothing to do with your assertions.

  67. Yeah, that Joe in Gaza thing was a huge fiasco. Who does he think he is? It takes years of graduate school and woodshedding to develop the serious skills and objectivity of a Chris Matthews or a Keith Olberman.

    Trey 8)

  68. Scalzi wrote: “Hey, you’re a bald, chunky, blue-collar nobody from a crappy little midwest town!”

    John, that reads as if you are bigoted against bald, heavy men from small towns. I am guessing that you are not, well, I am hoping with confidence that you are not. 8) That makes me wonder why this reads as if you are so offended by this guy. What is your problem with this guy? What is making you so angry?

    Trey

  69. Well, I took the train to DC on Monday for a business trip and then hopped in a cab to go to my hotel. As we were headed to the hotel the cab driver asks me to guess who he just gave a ride to. I tell him I have no clue and he says, “Joe the Plumber”. My first thought is, “Why the hell is Joe the Plumber in DC?” Then the cab driver tells me that Joe the Plumber was nice enough to give him an autographed copy of his new book, “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream”. My second thought is, “How the hell did Joe the Plumber get a book deal?”. Then the cab driver, who is not originally from America, says, “You know, America is funny. People just become successful all of sudden for strange reasons.” My last thought was, “True, true.”

  70. My deal with government is, I want the folks running the show to be smarter than me. I’m a pretty smart cookie so that’s not necessarily going to happen, but, I still want it to happen. Because damn, I don’t know if *I’m* smart enough to run things. So the idea of Joe and Sarah heading the GOP scares the bejeezus out of me, because they are all kinds of stupid, far below MY capabilities, and since I think *I* would have issues running the government, I definitely want them as far away from it as possible.

    And part of why I support Obama is because he is definitely smarter than I am, and I think smart plus White House equals crazy delicious.

    And please, GOP, continue to hold aloft these people of lackluster intelligence and questionable capabilities as your posterchildren, so that the Democratic party can continue to trounce you in every election.

  71. “Do all the wacky crap everybody asks you to do for as long as you possibly can, because in your heart you know it will never ever get any better than this for you for as long as you might possibly live.”

    That is hateful. Why would you wish this on a person you never met? I read your most recent post above where you talk about magically making assumptions without evidence, do you know Joe?

    I am honestly confused.

    Trey

  72. Trey:

    “What is your problem with this guy? What is making you so angry?”

    As the article itself rather amply shows, not only do I not have a problem with Joe the Plumber, I actively hope he gets to ride his gravy train for some time. I wish he were less ignorant, personally, but his ignorance seems not to be hurting him, so that’s just a personal preference.

    In any event, the dude was a bald, chunky, blue-collar nobody from a crappy midwest town. Which part would you dispute? That he’s bald? Chunky? Blue-collar? Was a nobody (in terms of media awareness)? Lives in a crappy midwest town? That this assessment seems to you to be angry says something about you — either your own personal issues with any of the above, or the need to assume I feel/desire to paint me as antagonistic toward JtP — than it does about me.

    In short, I am not responsible for the fantasy version of me you have in your head, Trey.

  73. Neil W @ #40: Yes, he did ask a fairly good question of Obama. Obama listened to him carefully, and gave a serious, extended, and well-thought-out reply, which Mr.Wurzelbacher and his fan club totally failed to understand. He used up all the respect he deserved at that point.

  74. Well, we agree that you are not responsible for my fantasies, except when I read your books. 8)

    While I hear what you are saying about this being my projection, it certainly could, but I do not think I am the only person who read this as a very disparaging tone toward the dude. I can’t think of why it would be my projection as JtP is not my guy, I am not a Republican, and got up on the right side of the bed this morning.

    It looks like I annoyed you too with the question. Sorry. That was honestly not my intent. My intent was to ask you what was going on in your heart. It reads like you are angry at something and that feeling is spilling out over to someone who frankly looks a LITTLE like you.

    Not me, I am fat and need a haircut.

    Honest, the tone of the post seemed harsh and most of your posts are the height of considered discourse. Well, something like that.

    I do not think this is my issue, but I am open to that and will think about it. Will you as well?

    Trey

  75. As a foreigner, it surprises me that people can say with a straight face that ‘the Republican Party is finished / will implode / will never hold power again’.

    Correct me if I’m wrong, but I seem to recall that the last time a major party formed in the US was 1856, when the Republican Party ran its first presidential candidate. Other parties have formed since then, but none of them has been in any danger of winning the presidency, or a majority of seats in the House or Senate.

    The US has been a two-party state (Democrat vs Republican) for 153 years. In that time, the Dems and Reps have changed their platforms and constituent bases any number of times, but the parties haven’t folded.

    Does anybody have any insight to offer on why this is? Other countries have major parties implode and new parties appear from time to time, but not the US. What kind of barriers to entry does the US system have to keep two parties (and only two parties) in place? Or am I totally misreading the situation?

  76. I can’t believe you actually believe that all DEMs are right and all of the GOP are wrong…..my God they are all politicians first and all idiot second….have you listened to Nancy P. or Charlie Rangle or George Bush……daaaaaaaaaa

    Can’t they just abide by the constitution!

    I live in NY State and all politicians dems and gop don’t care about this stupid idiot…..Joe Plumber makes more sense and that is sad….I hope the USA doesn’t become like an uncaring NY State!

    And OBama, the media will go after him sooner or later …they don’t care what the common man like…the media just want to tear down…just watch em!

  77. Trey:

    “It looks like I annoyed you too with the question. Sorry.”

    There you go again, Trey.

    I think what you might actually need to do here is get used to my rhetorical style on the blog, which certainly can seem confrontational if you’re not used to it. I’m not in the least annoyed with you, or with the question, although if you’re still relatively new around here, I can see how it might seem so.

    That said, I think you’re pinging any physical similarities between me and Mr. Wurzelbacher off that picture of me that makes me look like I’m 6′ 4″ and mean as hell. To be honest, outside of the fact we both have male-pattern baldness, there’s not much we have physically in common.

    iceageNY:

    “I can’t believe you actually believe that all DEMs are right and all of the GOP are wrong…”

    I’m not aware of anyone making such an assertion. Certainly I never did.

  78. Say whatever you will about Joe the Plumber, but:

    1) At least his commentary about events in Gaza doesn’t fill me with the urge to put an ax through my computer monitor. Better to be a simpleton plumber who can tell the good guys from the bad guys than a highly-educated, well-respected, utterly blinkered moral cripple like Jimmy Carter who cannot.

    2) the way he was treated after coming to national prominence by Ohio state government employees, who ransacked state databases looking for juicy tidbits of dirt to pass to a sympathetic media, is absolutely disgusting. If government can do it to him for daring to challenge the popular and the powerful, they can do it to any one of us.

  79. Hum. Despte there being a huge amount about the GOP to be seethingly angry with at the moment, I didn’t really see the post as angry in tone. Scathingly accurate with regard to ignorance, but I’m pretty sure ignorance deserves to be ridiculed in adults, especially ones with designs on high office or those moving in lofty circles.

    As to “keeping an open mind” that’s a total nonissue. It’s like saying “Can you keep an open mind on water perhaps being dry?” Is Joe the Plumber ignorant? Well, yes. Is Joe the Plumber qualified to be a war correspondent? Well, no. Is Joe the Plumber qualified to advise the Opposition party on anything other than leaky pipes? Again, no. Is it a bloody obvious and embarrassingly patronising sop to their depleted voter-base to even mention his name? Er, yes. Does it help to have ignorant people around when your failed policies have half the planet on fire, most of it in serious financial shit and you have absolutely no intention of saying “We really humped the bunk, so we’re going to change direction?”

    The numerical answer is left as an exercise for the student.

  80. Where are all these sudden absolutes coming from? I keep reading these opinions that the Republican party is Doomed and EarBucket is going so far as to suggest that they are unable to win an election without the Latino vote, which certainly seems like a marked 180 change from folk’s opinions as recently as early November 2008, when people were collectively losing their shit about the sudden reinvigoration of the Republican party.

    For the record, I would DREAD a country without AT LEAST two major parties. I do think that if the Republican party were to disappear, the Democrats would split…but I think that it’s pure fantasy to think that’s going to happen.

  81. in response to JReynolds, the reason the US has 2 parties and they are realtively stable – even though thier philosophies/ideals have morphed over the years, is that the US does not have a Parlimentary Democracy like so many other nations do- pluarities do not get you any representation. There could be a situation where a regional party or independant may win a house or senate seat – odds are stacked against long term influence – and if there is a group that starts to gain influence – they are more likely to be absorbed into one of the majjor parties.

    to the people saying /responding to the assertion that the GOP is ‘done’ – IMO the GOP as it existed under W, IS DONE, it will evolve into something else – somewhere out there is a Teddy Roosevelt or an Abe Lincoln who will inspire another redefintion of the GOP – I hope that the influence of big business and religious whako’s will be marginalized under the new incarnation – or that they leave the party altogether-

  82. John @69: That people seized upon JtP’s bit more than others — and that there was a ridiculous amount of follow through — was one of those “just happened” things.

    Except it didn’t “just happen” — JtP was a plant from the outset: bogus name, bogus claim to be an aspiring business owner, bogus claim to be a plumber, etc. That he went from “chance meeting” with Obama to McCain campaign prop the next day is pretty damning evidence that it was all staged.

    And as with most plants, if you take away their sunlight they wither and die…

  83. MasterThief – At least his commentary about events in Gaza doesn’t fill me with the urge to put an ax through my computer monitor. Better to be a simpleton plumber who can tell the good guys from the bad guys than a highly-educated, well-respected, utterly blinkered moral cripple like Jimmy Carter who cannot.

    You mean his commentary where he said that news media should be abolished?

  84. John H:

    Yes, and Obama was in on it too! How else would JtP have known that the presidential candidate would spend several minutes speaking to him! The fix was in all along! Soon Obama will reveal himself as a GOP plant!

    JtP got lucky.

  85. MasterThief @95: Wow! Jimmy Carter is a “moral cripple”??? Why, because he told the Israelis their treatment of the Palestinians was bordering on Apartheid? As much as I respect the Israelis for standing their ground in a hostile neighborhood, they have done quite a bit to be ashamed of. I don’t expect them to roll over and play dead, but indiscriminate bombing of Gaza is as reprehensible as blowing up a crowded market in Tel Aviv or firing rockets into Sderot.

    Are Palestinian children the “bad guys” because they were born on the wrong side of the border?

  86. WizarDruon–EarBucket is going so far as to suggest that they are unable to win an election without the Latino vote, which certainly seems like a marked 180 change from folk’s opinions as recently as early November 2008, when people were collectively losing their shit about the sudden reinvigoration of the Republican party.

    Yes, they were, and I spent quite a bit of time telling them to chill the hell the out, because it had been obvious for quite some time to anyone who actually knew anything about politics that McCain was doomed, doomed, doomed.

    The Latino vote is critical in national elections, and it’s only going to get more so. The Republicans can reach out to Hispanics if they want to (it remains one of Karl Rove’s smartest policies) but the more moderates they drive away from the party, the harder it’s going to be to do that.

    The GOP base is calcifying, and unless they change course, they’re screwed as a long-term party. It’s not something that’s going to happen overnight; hell, it’s not something that’s going to happen in a decade or two. But unless they significantly re-invent themselves, I’ll be surprised if they’re one of the two largest parties in the US in 2050.

  87. John, I am pretty new around here, so thanks for the info.

    The tonal difference between your political and your other posts is what I was picking up on. As you said, they are confrontational!

    Is it safe to say that you have very strong political feelings? It all makes sense to me now, you believe that JtP was a BS plant by a bunch of lug head Republicans who would kill America if they got too much power. It is them you have strong negative feelings toward, not JtP, if I have this figured out.

    So thanks for your patience! I think I am back on center.

    MARKHB wrote: “As to “keeping an open mind” that’s a total nonissue.”

    Not really. In my personal life and in my 20 years as a licensed clinical psychologist I have found that introspection takes time and an open mind. Scalzi suggested that I was projecting my own issues on to his post. While I do not feel or think thatwas accurate, I want to have an open mind to give myself time to see if that is true. I asked John to have an open mind to himself, not JtP.

    I care not for JtP, well, aside from wishing him and all human beings that are not trying to hurt me or my family well. There is the difference, some people’s political feelings are so strong that they treat people whom the politically disagree with in a contemptous manner. It is not a party thing, it is a matter of civility and productive discourse. I think that is a problem, so I mention it when I think I see it.

    I think I saw it, so I mentioned it! Vituperative disagreement is not helpful to my way of thinking.

    Would you disagree Mark?
    Trey

  88. JReynolds,

    As you pointed out, the US has always been a 2-party state. To understand why, you have to look back to the 18th century British parliamentary system from whence the US republic was derived. The monarch was replaced by an elected president, the house of commons was replaced with a house of representatives and the house of lords became the senate. 18th century England was also a 2-party state with the Whigs and Tories, which roughly translate into the Democrats and the Republicans. The 2-party mind-set was established in the US at its inception and is not likely to change.

    As for JtP, why does it surprise anyone that a party that whole-heartedly supported a president barely more intelligent than a chimp for 8 years, would continue to reach out to the stupid? Personally, I’m very happy that, this time around, the American people chose a constitutional attorney, who graduated at the top of his class from Harvard, and who served in the Senate, to replace Chimpy. Definitely a move in the right direction. Anyone who thinks Obama is unqualified to hold the presidency either hasn’t done their homework, or is unable to understand anything more basic than what the media has fed them.

  89. Trey:

    “It all makes sense to me now, you believe that JtP was a BS plant by a bunch of lug head Republicans who would kill America if they got too much power.”

    Well, I don’t think JtP was a plant, I think he was a guy who the GOP thought they could use to symbolize their attachment with the common man (and did), despite the fact they spent the better part of the decade privileging the top 1% of the country. I also don’t think the GOP would kill America — it has robust self-correcting processes built in, as the recent election proves — but I don’t think at the moment it has much of actual political philosophy other than a) the GOP should be in power and b) the Constitution is more of an aspirational guideline than the law, and not all that aspirational, come to think of it. I think JtP is an opportunist, but I don’t blame him for being so, nor would I say I wouldn’t be the same in the same position, although I would hope to be better informed than he.

    I do think JtP is wildly offbase in terms of what most people in his general socioeconomic stratum want and are concerned about at the moment, so I suspect the GOP canvassing him will result in little more than them finding out what JtP wants, which is by all indications pretty much what they wanted anyway. They make a nice echo chamber, which I suppose makes them happy but doesn’t do them much good outside the strategy meeting, I suspect.

  90. Hey, I’m a chunky middle-aged guy from Ohio. When do I get to help effect public policy?

    I know! I live 10 miles from Jean Schmidt. I’ll go kneecap her!

    God, I’m so proud to be actively involved in the process. I can’t wait to drive up to West Chester and leaving a flaming bag of dog poo on John Boehner’s porch!

  91. …despite the fact they spent the better part of the decade privileging the top 1% of the country

    …and are still trying to do so. The current debate in the Senate over the stimulus bill demonstrates quite clearly that the GOP still wants to increase corporate profits and improve living conditions for those who are still employed, while completely denying the fact that a half a million people are being laid off every month. It almost seems that they’re attributing the housing crisis to A.R.M. balloon payments, instead of the rising tide of unemployed who can no longer afford to pay their mortgages.

  92. NOTE: I would not kneecap Jean Schmidt nor encourage others to do so.

    I say this because I’m pretty sure someone will read this and say, “Why, hell, that’s a stupendous idea!” then get themselves arrested trying, saying, “Well, Winter says it’s OK.”

    No, I was kidding. If you’re not smart enough to get that, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog.

  93. John @102: JtP got lucky.

    No doubt. But that doesn’t mean the McCain campaign didn’t put him up to it. Given the bogus scenario he outlined for Obama that would have him paying slightly more in taxes — I just don’t think he’s smart enough to have come up with that on his own.

  94. John, you are a star for taking the time to kindly enlighten someone that you never met. Thanks pal. I appreciate it. Rock on.

    Trey

  95. Well at least Joe the Plumber isn’t Joe the VP. So that’s something.

    I do find it interesting how recently your political posts sort of nibble at the edges and take on nothing substantive.

  96. As a foreigner, it surprises me that people can say with a straight face that ‘the Republican Party is finished / will implode / will never hold power again’.

    I doubt anybody really thinks they are dead forever, merely that they seem to be doing the exact opposite of smart things that would increase their recovery and market share, as it were.

    Here in California, it was only a few years ago that the GOP threw out its far-right, racist leader to get somebody nominally moderate running the party, and the party elite is still so conservative that the Governator isn’t even attending the GOP state convention. You would think, wouldn’t you, that having a Republican governor leading California would be a point of pride? But no. He doesn’t hate gays enough, apparently.

  97. Two people in this thread make the fairly common argument that one of the fraudulent things about JtP is that his name isn’t really “Joe.” It seems to me people who insist this are just undermining the other, very legitimate criticisms they might have of the guy. I disrespect the guy himself and the GOP’s use of him, but his name is “Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher,” isn’t it? If he always went by “Sam” before talking with Obama, then, yeah, “Joe” is a stage name, maybe a BS affectation. But are there indications he didn’t always go by “Joe”? I’ve had various friends who go by their middle name instead of their first name. Are those people frauds for it?

  98. Scalzi

    I wish the GOP shared your opinion that JtP’s input was nothing substantive, Frank.

    Well, when the article contains statements such as

    If nothing else, GOP aides are using the appearance to get staffers to attend the 9 a.m meeting.

    Methinks you may be overstating his influence just a tad.

    So…..

    How ’bout that Stimulus, eh?

  99. Who was it that said “60% of Republicans want Joe the Plumber and Sara Palin to be the new face of the Republican party, and 100% of Democrats want them to be the new face of the Republican party.”

  100. Frank:

    I would suggest you’re confusing Politico’s editorial comment for the GOP’s reason for having him there.

    That said, I for one would be delighted if the reason for JtP’s presence was for the same reason the catering people make sure delicious oatmeal raisin cookies are on hand at each meeting. It’s better than the alternative.

  101. John,

    The “stupid” you speak of is fairly bi-partisan at the moment. Pelosi’s comment that we are losing 500 million jobs a month being just the latest manifestation on the dem’s side of the ledger. Nominating a tax cheat to run the IRS, HHS, government efficiency something or other, etc… doesn’t commonly connote competence ( and having to go on all of the major networks after less than two weeks on the job to admit you “screwed-up” isn’t really a resume highlight).

    Palin may be a clueless hack, but it is hard to see how Biden, Pelosi, or Reid are in a different quartile.

    I believe it was G.K. Chesterton who said that “Democracy means government by the uneducated …”

    The fact is that smart people don’t go into politics. It’s not a partisan thing. It’s just human nature.

    As for JTP, nobody remembers anything he said or stands for, all they know is that the republicans are talking to an average Joe, while Obama is assembling a “middle class task force” whose members have an average income north of $180,000.00 . As a contrasting image, they could do a lot worse.

  102. Scalzi:

    GOP’s reason for having him there

    First, I would point out it’s not “the GOP”. According to your source its the “Conservative Working Group” which according to SourceWatch is “an invitation-only meeting of key conservative lobbyists and political staffers”.

    This does not the GOP make. Not all Republicans are Conservatives, much to the chagrin of Rush and Sean and as I have been pointing out for the last, oh, four or five years now, Republicans have been moving Left to the Center while the Democrats have been moving Left from the Center.

    While there is a constituency for voice’s like Joe’s I think it is overstating things to suggest that he is the new Intellectual Leader of the GOP.

  103. Christian, that’s not really what JtP said, as the article makes clear.

    Steve, there’s also an implication that he’s “Joe” because “Joe” is, to the sort of people who put Obama’s likeness next to images of fried chicken on a fake welfare check, a good old American name. Not all funny spelled and hard to pronounce, and not…you know….vaguely Semitic. Of course if he’s gone by “Joe” all his life there’s not an issue, but that’s why people keep bringing it up.

  104. Frank:

    “Not all Republicans are Conservatives”

    But the ones who are not haven’t exactly been piloting the boat any time in the last couple of decades, now, have they, Frank. As for your assertion that the Republicans have been moving left, well, it’s an assertion, isn’t it. I think you may be confused that the frantic and (to the conservative view) quasi-socialistic flailings of the late-era Bush administration in the face of global economic collapse somehow reflect a coherent political and philosophical position. I am also interested in any assertions that you may have that unicorns live among us, invisibly.

    “While there is a constituency for voice’s like Joe’s I think it is overstating things to suggest that he is the new Intellectual Leader of the GOP.”

    As I said, I live in hope you are correct on that one, Frank.

  105. Steve Ely @118:
    I agree, and that’s bothered me ever since JtP first showed up on the national radar. Millions of people go by their middle names, even if they often go by their first names as well. And there are plenty of more legitimate reasons to criticize the guy.

    Either that, or Hiram Ulysses Grant, Stephen Grover Cleveland, Thomas Woodrow Wilson and John Calvin Coolidge were frauds, one and all.

  106. The dude going by “Joe” never bothered me either. I know a fair number of people who prefer their middle names. I think people making something out of that are a little silly.

  107. Heh. Regarding Joe going by his middle name: both my parents go by their middle names. More than a few Canadian Prime Ministers have gone by their middle names (Brian Mulroney [1984-93] was the most recent example). The PM who followed him went by her nickname (Kim Campbell) rather than her actual given name (Avril Phaedra Douglas Campbell). No big deal where I come from.

  108. Re #107: “the US has always been a 2-party state.”

    In my humble opinion, the tragedy is that we have lost sight of WHY the USA was, Constitutionally a zero-party state. Whomever got the most votes was President. Whomever got the second-most votes was Vice President. That was explicitly designed to avoid parties, factions, and other mistakes of European nations.

    That’s one of the things that’s been abandoned by the way side. Such as not having an inherited Aristocracy. Such as not requiring Judges to be Juris Doctors. Such as not having only millionaires in Congress. Such as not having an income tax, except briefly to pay down the debts of a war from which we had an exit strategy.

    Nor am I happy with the way that the word “Conservative” has been used above. Nor “Libertarian.”

    I’m no Poly Sci professor. I’ve only written a few speeches for a Presidential candidate. I’ve only twice been elected to minor local political office (as Town Councilman). But there is SO much more to American politics than some comments here.

    Mr. Scalzi knows this — he is, in many ways, as politically acute as Heinlein. He lets a lot of the misunderstandings slide.

    But at least understand that what Americans USED to call “Conservative” was what the used to call “Liberal” in the U.K., that the GOP has been taken over from within several times in my lifetime, that Libertarianism is associated historically with the Right in the USA but with the Left in Europe, and that Third Parties make quite a bit of difference [cf. Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, the Socialist party having forced Social Security on the Democrats, George Wallace in 1968, H. Ross Perot in 1992, or Ralph Nader for the Green Party].

  109. Woops, I told a lie. The most recent Canadian PM to not go by his first name was Joseph Jacques Jean Chrétien, who went by Jean Chrétien; he served from 1993-2003. My bad.

  110. “Joe seems to be the GOP’s Barack Obama — a nobody promoted to the highest levels of government based on an image….”

    Maybe, to some degree. Bottom line is that Joe was a tool and Obama is a tool. Difference being that one is the leader of the country. We learn every day how naive Obama was in his campaigning by the fact that he is beginning to backpedal on statements he made.
    Personally if they both went *poof* the world would be a better place.

  111. Option B! Milk it, have fun, drink the best, eat the best, stay at expensive places, travel, take photos, & say as LITTLE as possible. When it’s all over and the GOP is looking elsewhere, go back to your small town (some are nice), get your license and go back to plumbing! Joe, come on down to Baja, I need some work done!

  112. JVP @# 131: “…we have lost sight of WHY the USA was, Constitutionally a zero-party state… That was explicitly designed to avoid parties, factions, and other mistakes of European nations.”

    Except that it didn’t work. Humans seem to have an innate need to form factions, parties, alliances, and such. There were de facto political parties — the Federalists and Anti-Federalists — before the Constitution was even ratified.

  113. “Whomever got the most votes was President. Whomever got the second-most votes was Vice President. That was explicitly designed to avoid parties, factions, and other mistakes of European nations.”

    I wouldn’t say abandoned so much as corrected. Presidential succession laws always had a lot of holes in it, and the idea of the #2 vote getter being the veep didn’t work as well in reality as it did on paper.

    I also have heard some wailing and gnashing of teeth that state legislatures no longer elect senators. To me, that was the Constitution’s most anti-democratic post-Civil War feature. But then I live in Ohio and get to see California on the news everyday. So my opinions of state governments is a lot lower than that of the federal.

  114. John Scalzi at 13:

    In response to “you may simply have really poor taste in your leaders and idols”, I’m pretty sure that I don’t idolize any public figure. They’re human beings and are no more fit to lead than am I (or you, for the matter). And I include both Obama (who is not as brilliant as his idolizers [your term] would make out) or Palin (who is not as stupid as her detractors you have the public believe) in that opinion.

    I vote for candidates not because of their personal charisma, but for their ideas and strength of will/steadiness of purpose. I happen to be, in no particular order, pro-second amendment, pro-life, pro-small government, pro-low taxes, pro-balanced budgets, pro-capital punishment (though I concede the it is over utilized and should be only imposed in the most heinous of circumstances, a belief which is observed more often in the breach than the observance), and pro-military and/or economic engagement of dictators and autocrats who pose a threat to the U.S. or are just plain evil and should be opposed as a point of national honor (I’m referring to Rwanda and Darfur on this example- 10,000 Marines could do a lot of good), though the last does not necessarily call for full scale invasions (though it might).

    And I also acknowledge that finding a politician, even amongst Republicans, who fit the above bill is difficult. George Bush (both of them) were disappointing on one or more of the above issues, as was McCain and most other elected Republicans, and as have been almost all of the Democrats over the last 30+ years. I support Sarah Palin because she seems to share my value system on those political issues and she isn’t faking it or pandering to the base, as do so many other self-professed conservatives.

    The issue here is not my (or person’s like me) stupidity or poor taste. It’s the left’s inability to acknowledge that political viewpoints other than their own can be reached by rationale minds and good people. I, as a conservative American, will acknowledge that my political beliefs may be wrong (though I don’t think so). I’ll find out when I die and God gives us the real scoop. It is my opinion that the political side of American life which is becoming less tolerant of diversity of opinion, and more certain of their righteousness, is the left. Attending political meetings of both stripes on a regular basis (believe it or not, as a politically active attorney and a very minor elected official [school board, in my second term], I get around some in our small desert community), it appears to me (as merely anecdotal evidence) that the grass roots conservatives appear more willing to civilly debate an issue as opposed to their liberal counter-parts.

  115. stevem:

    “It’s the left’s inability to acknowledge that political viewpoints other than their own can be reached by rationale minds and good people.”

    Eh. The same very can be said about the right (and frequently is). In both cases, there are people who are willing to listen and compromise, and people who aren’t.

    As an aside, I’m not aware of saying Sarah Palin is stupid, although from what I can see of her she doesn’t exactly have a world-class intellect. She seems about average. I do think she’s awfully ignorant, and until she becomes rather substantially less so, I wouldn’t want her to be considered a legitimate contender for high national office. I also think a fair number of her ideas are crap, too, but that’s neither here nor there as regards her intelligence or ignorance.

  116. This whole thread reminds me of my favorite Larry Niven quote:

    “There are minds that think as well as yours, just differently.”

    Frankly I am surprised that JS would bother to pick this up as thread material, given the marginalized position of the Republican party at this point in U.S. political history.

    Why care what they do when you’ve already been calling them stupid for a long time and have never voted for them anyway?

    (shrug)

  117. Leaving aside that I’ve mentioned several times that I have voted for Republicans, and if memory serves, I’ve said so specifically to you, Sub-Odeon, so your weary handflappery on this scores seems a bit disingenuous, what on earth makes you think that I think it either wise or healthy to have one of the two major parties in the United States run by people who are either ignorant or stupid?

    I don’t want the GOP to wallow in feculent stupidity. I want it to be good enough that I see it as a viable choice for my vote, and that even when I don’t vote for them, if they win I don’t have to worry about their native ignorance/stupidity causing them to do something foolish.

  118. “there are people who are willing to listen and compromise, and people who aren’t.”

    I propose we hunt down the latter group and force them to see things our way.

  119. Re #141:

    Fact-checking and snipping from Wikipedia…

    I’m a big Larry Niven fan, but he was quoting the great editor John Wood Campbell, Jr. [8 June 1910 – 11 July 1971] who suggested story ideas to writers, including, famously, “Write me a creature that thinks as well as a man, or better than a man, but not like a man”).

    It is though that he hoped for something akin to the first story of the great, and tragically short-lived, Stanley Grauman Weinbaum [4 April 1902 - 14 December 1935] who was an American science fiction author. “A Martian Odyssey”, was published to great (and enduring) acclaim in July 1934.

    I accept the friendly amendments to my zero-party comment. The story is more complex, when I look at it through my Mathematical Economist goggles, knowing some of the rules for how large a bribe is needed to get people to switch factions.

    Of course Joe the Plumber is a “created” character. So were the Monkees, created to knock-off the Beatles. But they had real talent, and some good songs. Then the Archies, created as a knock-off of the Monkees and tie-in to the comics. Then the Banana Splits, created as a knockoff of the Archies.

    The problem is not Sarah Palin, who I found quite attractive in certain ways (not the profound ignorance). The problem is with Sarah Plain knock-off such as JtP. The descent will continue unabated, as in the bubble-gum example above.

  120. I don’t see the core philosophies of either the Democrats or Republican parties as being idiotic or detached from the real world. Depending on how a person views the world, each makes a lot of sense.

    And the problem is with the candidates and elected officials of both parties is not a lack of intelligence. Despite naysayers, I think Bush, Palin, Pelosi, Reed, etc. are all fairly bright people. The problem, from my viewpoint, is a lack of honesty, whether intellectual or personal. Whether Obama breaks this mold remains to be seen.

  121. If I could edit the above, I neglected to say one reason I like Palin as I view her as honest and consistent in her beliefs. She does not appear to be for sale. Then conclude with the last line.

    Sorry.

  122. I don’t want the GOP to wallow in feculent stupidity. I want it to be good enough that I see it as a viable choice for my vote, and that even when I don’t vote for them, if they win I don’t have to worry about their native ignorance/stupidity causing them to do something foolish.

    And that’s the beginning, and end of my wish-list. The middle bit of it is “Defend the Constitution you feckless bastards”, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.

  123. If I could edit the above, I neglected to say one reason I like Palin as I view her as honest and consistent in her beliefs. She does not appear to be for sale. Then conclude with the last line.

    That’s great for someone you’re in business with, but the leader of the country needs to be of a higher standard. She’s not well-educated, appears to lack curiousity about matters of vast import and doesn’t seem to think well on her feet. Especially when the wheels are coming off, we need better than that.

    Will Obama be that? In the name of Reason and Mercy, I hope so, but he’s a politician. *shrugs* We’ll have to wait and see. At least he’s well-educated, seems bright enough and able to think rather than just emote.

  124. The comments comparing Obama and JtP/Palin seem slightly odd. Sure, Obama has a habit of saying empty things, and a level of studied vagueness that helps him attract support without committing on certain things; see Daniel Larison’s commentary, though I don’t totally agree with him. But there’s a difference between intentional vagueness and ignorance; Palin and JtP, though not idiots, are the latter. And one of the things the last 8 years have shown is that ignorance is an incredibly bad trait in your leaders, especially in combination with “moral courage.”

    stevem:

    It’s the left’s inability to acknowledge that political viewpoints other than their own can be reached by rationale minds and good people.

    Speaking as someone who’s broadly on the left, Conservatism can be quite rational indeed. But there’s a difference between William Buckley and Rich “Starbursts” Lowry or K-Lo; there’s a difference between Eisenhower and Goldwater versus Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber.

    The right is embracing blind culture hostility. “Liberal Fascism.” “Traitor.” “Party of Death.” The last one is apparently an interesting book that I intend to read at some point, and Ponnoru’s smart, but his pretending that “But I’m using it in a 19th Century sense!” was justification for the title insulted both his and everyone else’s intelligence. (It’s a title, and therefore people looking at said title are not going to jump to the 19th century sense, given that it’s the 21st. Ponnoru must know this). The problem isn’t that there ignorance exists among the Republican party; it’s that it’s embraced and celebrated right now.

    This is bad, as I would very much like coherent, intelligent support for small government, the economy and a host of other things; the Republicans’ views on the first two there could currently be replaced by a drinking bird hitting a “Cut Taxes!” shortcut and I’m not sure anyone would notice.

    Also:

    I vote for candidates not because of their personal charisma, but for their ideas and strength of will/steadiness of purpose.

    And this is a problem in terms of governance. Whatever else I’d say about Bush, this was true of him. And he was a terrible president, in part because of this. He kept Rumsfeld on too long. He committed to invasions because they seemed morally good, and didn’t consider the consequences carefully. His loyalty to his friends was a part of this, and bought us Harriet Miers, Alberto Gonzales, and Brownie. Strength of will is only a good thing when you have a clue; even Reagan raised taxes when it became necessary.

  125. Fish smack well taken, JS. You did (months ago?) mention that you had voted for the occasional lower-level Republican, but never a Presidential-level Republican. Correct? I therefore should have phrased my statement more carefully.

    I guess this thread just seemed like walking up to a deer on the side of the road that’s already dead, and giving it a few good kicks, just because you don’t like deer. Or something?

    But your response does beg a new question: what, in your opinion, would a “respectable Republican party” look like? You speak of disengenuousness, but in a certain sense your concern for the enfeeblement of the Republicans seems disengenous because you’re just too damned gleefull in pointing out all the Republican fuckups.

    If I am concerned about someone or something, I don’t take pleasure in kicking them when they’re down.

    And no, I am not really trying to be snarky. Not really. I just find threads like this a tad… odd. In the Obama Era anyway, with Dems 100% in the driver’s seat and liable to stay there for the near future.

  126. Sub-Odeon:

    “In the Obama Era anyway, with Dems 100% in the driver’s seat and liable to stay there for the near future.”

    Alternately, Obama had said he wants good ideas from anywhere, and he’s shown (most obviously by hiring/retaining Republicans for his cabinet — 3 with the inclusion of Sen. Gregg) at least some willingness to walk the walk. Which is to say I suspect there’s a place for the GOP at the table, if they want it, rather than reflexively rejecting everything that comes out of Obama because he’s on “the other side.” In which case it helps to have the GOP actually with brains engaged.

    In any event, pointing out that the GOP (or in a nod to Frank, some significant planning portion thereof) inviting an ignorant quasi-celebrity they themselves created to talk strategy is not “kicking them when they’re down,” it’s pointing out that they’re kicking themselves when they’re down, and this is probably not the way for them to get back up.

    Besides, these are all big boys and girls who don’t need a hug from me to get through their day. I mean, it’s nice you’re so solicitous of their feelings, but I think they’ll be fine.

  127. Do all the wacky crap everybody asks you to do for as long as you possibly can, because in your heart you know it will never ever get any better than this for you for as long as you might possibly live.

    Wait, isn’t that the premise behind Jim Carrey’s career?

    Stupidity in the GOP: I would argue that Joe and Sarah are symptoms that result from letting the religious right gain so much power in the party. Thanks to the tactics they resorted to in defeating gay marriage rights and in delaying action against global warming, much of the party has lost the ability to accept new lines of thought.

    Acknowledging the concerns of faith and adopting reasoned, moral positions based on faith is one thing. Falling into political fundamentalism (in the sense of only finding answers in “fundamental sources” like party dogma, not in the sense of thinking with your fundament) is another. But because religious fundamentalism promotes relying on the Bible (or your holy text of choice) as the source truth for all areas of life, your party members tend to resort to “divine authority” reasoning in the political arena as well. Political Scholasticism rather than Empiricism, if you will. As a result, you end up at least as susceptible to group-think and echo chamber effects as the bluest liberal ivory-tower think tank. The fact that they’re bringing Joe in reeks of group-think, looking to identify “middle-american” values that will take back the Rust Belt. The problem is the Rust Belt was just as disgusted by Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo as liberal America. One reason Obama won (apart from the economic collapse) was that he represented a return to many of our core constitutional values, a point which he reiterated during his inaugural.

    On the other hand, if the Republicans get back to fiscal conservatism, they could gain traction in 2010 and beyond as the economy recovers (IF the economy recoers). The theory of small government would have real benefit after the (unfortunate but necessary) overspending on the economic stimulus. And, if carried to a logical extreme, small government could have a real impact: if the federal budget were made small enough so that it wasn’t worth it to seek government contracts or funding, most of the lobbying action would fall to the state capitals (where the states would be picking up the slack in federal services), and Washington would be a ghost town. But if you really want to make the federal government so small that the lobbying industry collapses, you should be voting Libertarian, not Republican.

  128. I don’t want someone as leader of anything – ship, council, country – who is “honest and consistent in [that person's] beliefs”. Honest, yes, I want that – especially honest enough to say “I made a mistake” or “my beliefs were wrong, and here’s why” If It’s True – but “honest in beliefs”? Consistent? Not if that means “belief-coloured glasses”. Not if that means formulating the conclusion, then looking for supportive evidence, rather than gather the evidence, then look for the conclusion that is supported by it.

    There’s a (ha ha only serious) saying, attributed to H.L. Mencken: “For every complex problem, there is an answer that is clear, simple–and wrong.” I have spent much of this decade watching a President of the U.S. that was absolutely firm in his beliefs, which were clear and simple. Similarly, I read many years ago in a “management bulletin” the following aphorism: “If you haven’t added a new, fundamental belief or thrown away an old one in the last five years, check your pulse. You might be dead.” I would much rather have someone whose beliefs are subject to correction when shown to be invalid or unworkable than someone honest and consistent in her beliefs.

    That’s not saying that one should twist whichever way the wind blows today; it should take good, solid, hard evidence to overturn a belief of something being wrong, or right; but it should always be possible. It’s called “ability and willingness to learn”; it’s something generally consistent with “smart”, and its lack almost the definition of “stupid”, and it applies no less at 45 (or 70) than in school.

    I also believe (but remember, I am so liberal that the Liberals in my country won’t have me; from my eyrie, the U.S. Democrats are so right-wing (i.e. slightly right of Centre) that they scare me – so I May Be Biased Here) that the Republican party has done its best to encourage duckspeak; that they have rode the power of the masses to such success that they thought they were the Governing-Ordained Party; and that the current PTB of the GOP, even now, have only one rule: “if it keeps us in power, as we are Ordained to be, it is Right. All else is Anathema.”

  129. “Honest and consistent” is in reference to politicians who campaign on one world view, and don’t sell those beliefs as soon as they arrive in Washington. Personally, I would prefer to vote for a borderline incompetent who is consistent as opposed to a genuis whose policies are at the whim of the polls and whomever knocks on his door with the largest suitcase full of case. At least I know what to expect from the incompetent (and if I am lucky he’ll spend his days golfing, chasing skirts and boozing it up, missing every single vote), as opposed to the corrupt politician who will vote for anything so long as it advances his career or pocket book.

    And one can be intellectually honest and consistent, and still be a flexible thinker. Intellectual honesty and consistency does not equate to being a robot. “Lower taxes” is not always the answer (though it is more often than not the answer), same as more spending should not be the reflex answer of Democrats.

    Personally speaking, it is my opinion that the Republican party is not dead, that Democrats are on course to repeat the mistakes of the 2002-2006 Republicans with their spending habits. Steve Moss and John Scalzi types voters do not determine elections. Our voting patterns are more or less set. It’s the middle 10% that control things. Obama beat McCain by about 6%. If a future Republicans can maintain the base and get 4 of the 6%, Republicans win. Vice versa Democrats. And those moderates (to use an over abused term), don’t have hardcore, inflexible beliefs about gun control, abortion, etc., so neither the left nor the right will necessarily lose them by taking hard lines on social issues. What they care about is economics, both personal and national. IMO, whichever party seems to best advocate controlling and reducing national debt while at the same time stimulating the economy (which does not necessarily require additional spending) wins. Obama was more than beatable on this issue. The problem was McCain is a military man and career politician who never liked talking business and looked like he was having a tooth pulled when he did, which failed to inspire confidence on this critical issue. As much as I like Palin (and will support her in the future, in some capacity), in hindsight I think Romney would have been a far better VP choice. Romney-Palin 2012?

  130. SteveM:
    Romney-Palin 2012?

    Oh, please let them run that ticket! You could only get a better election for the Democrats if you ran Bush-Cheney again.

  131. JS, could you please make a little more use of italics next time? I don’t think your attitude is coming through clear enough for me to get your drift.

  132. Sub-Odeon, “Look! A monkey!” or the snarky equivalent is a pretty piss-poor rhetorical tactic. Just so you know.

    I’m not really following this false dichotomy of consistent and stupid vs. inconsistent and brilliant. Is that the 2009 gloss on “flip-flopper”? Taking suitcases full of cash to change one’s mind is corruption, not inconsistency. And since we’re a representative democracy and all, shouldn’t the President take the opinion of the people of the United States into account? Of course the President should lead, and if he thinks the people are being really, really stupid (it happens, y’know), he should do the right thing. But I’m not sure the right attitude for a political leader is “Often in error, never in doubt”.

  133. Theophlact @91 – True enough. In fact I wonder if part of the reason why he became such a phenomenon is that both the Obama and the McCain campaigns wanted that message out there. I imagine it went something like this:

    1st Obama aide: You know, that answer was brilliant!
    2nd Obama aide: Well it was the obvious question, so he used the answer we prepared when we came up with the plan.
    1st Obama aide: This could play well – listening to the public’s concerns, taking time to give them thoughtful answers. We should make sure that the clip with this guy gets some play.

    Meanwhile, across town…
    McCain Campaign Strategist: Did you see that? That’s the kind of question we need to show the flaws in Obama’s plan.
    Aide: And the answer was too long to make a snappy soundbite!
    Strategist: We could make this the cornerstone of our economic argument. We should get call this guy and get him on board… what’s his name?
    Aide: [checks notes] Um… Joe? The Plumber?
    Strategist: Joe the Plumber? I like it.

  134. Out of curiosity, does anyone predict the GOP will be fiscally responsible when it is next in power? Despite the political conception of “GOP thrifty, DEM spendy,” I’ve seen a lot of data showing that the reverse has been true since WWII.

    Since one of the main things many voters like about “conservatism” is *fiscal* conservatism, the fact that this info is entering the popular consciousness does not bode well for the GOP.

  135. martinl at 163: You’re right in that the GOP brand sold when it was considered “thrifty”. Prudent financial stewardship and social conservatism sells, as would prudent financial stewardship and social liberalism. The common denominator appears lost on the parties.

    You are also right that moderates (and even conservatives like me) are sceptical that the GOP has learned its lesson. The odds are good that returning them to control means more of the same.

    I do not believe that the Dems are thrifty or becoming known for it. The current monstrosity of a bail out bill being a case in point. Like the Republicans, the Democrats are on course to disenchant middle America in a big way. Whether this helps the Republicans, drives down voter participation, gives rise to a 3rd party, or all of the above, I have no idea.

  136. Stevem- Any self proclaimed “conservative” or even centrist Democrat has been on the opposite side of prudent financial stewardship. They’ve been trying to deregulate banking, and eliminate oversight for decades.

    Like the Republicans, the Democrats are on course to disenchant middle America in a big way.

    I think you’re fantasizing. You want that to happen, but it’s not certain that it’s going to happen.

  137. I think one big reason the Republicans are on life support right now is because their base is so unhappy with how they’ve essentially ditched the idea that they are the Fiscally Responsible party. And in fact no Republican in recent memory has presided over a federal government that actually shrank, so while the GOP cannot claim currently to be a truly fiscally conservative party, I do think lots of voters are fiscally conservative and desperate to see someone — anyone — in elected office be and *GOVERN* the same.

  138. I think anyone over 30 should have seen enough of the cycles of this to know that parties going stupid is transitory, and that it happens regularly to both the big ones (and more regularly to the small ones, who have less useful feedback from the masses in the middle who swing and make the difference…).

    The “everyman” ethic comes in and out of fashion – It’s not a purely republican thing by any means. Palin and Joe the Plumber are symptoms, not enduring core values.

    The Repubs right now seem stupid and confused because they took a chance and ran their “maverick” guy and he didn’t run well (or to his core values, really…). But they’ll find some issues that resonate and move back into the center and come back.

  139. Josh Jasper at 165: It is possible that I am fantasizing, but I doubt it. The Democrats are putting on a display of arrogance and fiscal recklessness that the Republicans, in their worse days, never contemplated. I suspect that the Republicans won’t be known as fiscally prudent for many years (even assuming they get their act in gear). However, within short order, they’ll be known as more fiscally prudent than the Democrats. Which is damning with faint praise, but it’s all they’re going to get short term.

    How that translates in the 2010 election cycle we’ll find out soon enough. I think that it will be enough to push 3-7% of the voters into the Republican column, if only to restrain government by dividing it. Which means Speaker Pelosi will be rueing some of her more recent decisions.

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