Thursday, February 5, 2009

Joe The Plumber Emerges As Conservative Standard Bearer In Economics And Journalism

What are we to make of the fact that Joe the Plumber, aka Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher, recently presented a talk on the proposed stimulus package to the Conservative Working Group, an organization of Capitol Hill staffers who plan weekly GOP strategy?

Does Joe's appearance say something about the intellectual standards of a party searching for its bearings? Does he follow in the tradition of Edmund Burke, Russell Kirk and other prominent conservative thinkers of the past?

Or was he just there to get people to show up at the 9:00 a.m. meeting? Kimberly Wallner, an aide to South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint, sent out an e-mail to drum up excitement: "In case you weren't planning to attend GWC tomorrow morning, you might want to reconsider because Joe the Plumber will be joining us!"

Steve Benen of The Washington Monthly offered a telling assessment of Joe's lecture: "This is what it's come to for Republican staffers in Congress. In the midst of an economic crisis, and after balking at a stimulus package, the GOP is turning to an unlicensed plumber/campaign prop to discuss legislative strategy on economic policy."

Yes, I know I've kept you in suspense regarding Joe's perspective on President Obama's stimulus package. Well, here it is: he doesn't like it.

In addition to serving as an economist–the right's answer to recent Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman–Joe was also recently sent to Israel by the conservative PJTV to serve as a war correspondent. His conclusion? Journalists shouldn't do war journalism (h/t Think Progress):

I’ll be honest with you. I don’t think journalists should be anywhere allowed war. I mean, you guys report where our troops are at. You report what’s happening day to day. You make a big deal out of it. I think it’s asinine. You know, I liked back in World War I and World War II when you’d go to the theater and you’d see your troops on, you know, the screen and everyone would be real excited and happy for ’em. Now everyone’s got an opinion and wants to downer–and down soldiers. You know, American soldiers or Israeli soldiers.

I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you’re gonna sit there and say, “Well look at this atrocity,” well you don’t know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it.

Actually, Thom Hartmann of Air America Radio conducted an excellent interview with Joe the Plumber. Hartmann used the situation in the Middle East as a jumping off point to focus on Joe's real area of expertise. Listen:

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