Joementum

Kevin Drum on the final days of McCainism:

But the genuinely weird part of it is McCain’s bizarre embrace of Joe. It’s one thing to use the guy as a campaign prop, but to tell the world that it was Joe who “turned the whole thing around”? That Joe is his personal “role model”? You gotta be kidding. Those aren’t things you’d want to admit even if they were true, are they?

It’s fascinating to me how McCain, who spent so much of 1999–2005 at loggerheads with elements of the conservative base, keeps forgetting the distinction between things that make the base excited and things that help his campaign. Sarah Palin is the obvious example, but Joe is in some ways a deeper and truer example. The idea behind the Joe the Plumber saga is that Barack Obama would be bad for people like Joe, a small business owner who is (putatively) prosperous enough to be hit by Obama’s tax hikes on people with over $250,000 in annual income. Of course Joe doesn’t actually earn that much. But if he had, Joe would just be the very model of a hard-core Republican. Whites are more Republican than non-whites. Men are more Republican than women. Small business owners are more Republican than any other occupational group. High-income people are more Republican than are middle-class and poor people. And among white people, those with no college degree are more Republican than those with college degrees.

Thus, a white male small-business owner practicing a blue collar trade and earning enough money to be hit by Obama’s tax hikes is nothing other than the Platonic Ideal of a Republican (think Tom DeLay when he owned a successful bug-killing business). Republican crowds go wild for Joe because they can identify with him. But by the same token, the people who identify with Joe are the Republican base. They can’t turn this thing around. And they’re certainly not the people you’re supposed to be talking to in October. It’d be as if Barack Obama were criss-crossing the country with a young, hip lesbian acting as his main surrogate to attack McCain’s health care plan.