There are many posts on Joe, but I agree with Thers' take that some of the personal information that's been posted (divorce records) is irrelevant and crosses the line. But, as Thers also says:
There is I think a legitimate question about how accurate he is on the specific grounds upon which he decided to challenge Obama face-to-face. He depicted himself as an Everyman who would be hurt by Obama's tax proposals. He made a specific claim about his economic status and ambitions, relative to what a candidate for president was saying. To that extent he made his own personal economic position fair game -- he brought it up, and clearly intended to put Obama on the spot in that confrontation through this kind of personalization. "Here is me, you don't get me."
There is, after all, a legitimate political and policy issue here. Will Obama's tax proposals, if enacted, do harm to actual or potential small business owners?
The fact that "Joe" was full of shit about this particular point is therefore relevant. And here are the relevant data:In 2009 about 35 million tax returns will report some income from small businesses, according to Roberton Williams, principal research associate at the non-partisan Tax Policy Center. Of these only about 660,000 tax units — or 1.9 percent — would see an increase under Senator Obama’s tax proposal.
I don't really think you need to go much past that, frankly. This is a person who wants to go on wingnut media as the champion of an entire class of people who will be disadvantaged by a policy proposal, but the inescapable point is that even taking him at his word he would represent 1.6% of a relatively small slice of the entire middle class of Americans. That he wants to babble about "socialism" when the real issue is merely jiggering with the tax code is gravy. Carazy gravy, but gravy.
Thers also explains why the attention on "Joe the Plumber" isn't like the right-wing campaign against Graeme Frost (and yes, Michelle Malkin railing about personal attacks on Joe is absolutely ridiculous), but surely only Howard Kurtz would fall for that sort of false equivalency...
As with the number of John McCain's houses or his "100 years" remarks, Joe the Plumber himself isn't that important, but if he's used to move to the real issues and something substantive, fine. The media typically covers issues of wealth in a misleading fashion when they cover them at all, and the GOP sure as hell isn't going to help supply helpful, accurate information. For more, see Robert Borsage's "The Next Fight" and Bill Scher's "Smearing Tax Cuts As Handouts." There are plenty more where they came from and given the economic woes facing us, we need all the good discussion we can get.
(Cross-posted at The Blue Herald)