Jon has very shrewdly asked whether Joe the Plumber is the same as Joe Six-Pack.
Couple of points I feel compelled to make as someone who has developed a close and extremely expensive relationship with various plumbers over the years.
1. While plumbers may be blue-collar employees, they're hardly
the same as the low-wage laborers weeding lawns, busing tables, cleaning offices, and, yes, providing childcare to many of the nation's youngest citizens. Just having a plumber set foot in my house costs slightly less than the ensemble Cindy McCain wore for her convention speech. (OK. I exaggerate--but only because of the jewelry.)
2. Beyond that, there is a difference between the guys who do the plumbing and the guys who own the business. As my husband kept grousing at the TV last night, Joe the Plumber, as we are being introduced to him, is really Joe the Aspiring Plumbing Company Owner. Anyone recall Vincent Gardenia's academy-award winning turn as Cosmo Castorini in "Moonstruck"--the Brooklyn plumbing magnate who went around rhapsodizing about copper pipes and was, as everyone kept pointing out, "as rich as Roosevelt"? There is a reason that stereotype is so funny. Although, as someone who earns considerably less than my plumber--much less his boss--I find it as painful as it is funny.
This is not to say that Joe the Plumber deserves to be treated like some sharp-suited derivatives trader. (Although, these days, Joe may have the financial edge there.) He has worked his butt off at an unglamorous job and is looking to take the next step up the ladder. But don't ask me to pity him because he might have to pay slightly higher taxes. As Obama noted, it would be heavenly if none of us had to pay any taxes. But here in Realityland, tough choices must be made and priorities set. Any politician who can't admit that is either delusional or dishonest.