October 20th, 2008

Obama’s campaign and the press: a long history of working hand in hand

Some Obama defenders have pointed out that Joe the Plumber made himself fair game for the exposure of his personal information by insinuating himself into an election when he asked a question of candidate Obama. Others have said that Obama himself can’t be faulted for what happened to Joe; after all, it was the press digging into Joe’s past, not Obama. Some have even blamed McCain for using Joe’s exchange with Obama to make some points in his final debate against Obama.

The press is most definitely at fault here, first and foremost. In this election the MSM has almost entirely abdicated its responsibility to objectively inform the American people. It has done this through its naked and unashamed partisanship, its willingness to learn more and expose more about average guy and non-candidate Joe the Plumber or John McCain’s wife and her previously-well-aired difficulties than it has ever wanted to know (or wanted us to know) about the myriad and truly troubling associations and background of Presidential candidate Barack Obama.

What about John McCain’s responsibility? The best evidence so far is that he failed to mention to Joe that he would bring him up in the debate, although he had called him prior to that to ask him to appear at a campaign rally and Joe seems to have acquiesced, indicating that Joe had no problem with becoming more visible and vocal in the campaign. The linked article from the pro-Obama Politico seems to think McCain should have completely vetted Joe before mentioning him at all, as though he were some sort of candidate. I disagree.

Why? Because if that’s the requirement, then we’re finished as a nation in terms of freedom of speech. It is logical to think that this incident and its aftermath have had a chilling effect on anyone else who might want to ask Obama tough questions that might elicit embarrassing answers. And though this may be good for Obama, it’s not good for the rest of us. I cannot understand why partisanship blinds people to this simple fact. I strongly feel that I would think this way even if I were still a Democrat, and I strongly feel that I would think this way if it were Republicans benefiting from the dirt the press is digging up on this man.

Joe’s background is not the issue (although it does turn out that he is in fact an apprentice plumber, I can’t see what his owed back taxes have to do with anything, and it also turns out that a plumbing business can gross that much if it is successful and employs several people). And Joe was no Rovian plant; Obama went to his house, so unless the evil puppeteer Republicans are controlling Obama’s movements, it’s certain that Joe was just a random encounter.

There was nothing really remarkable about Joe’s question, anyway (except that Obama is rather unused to being asked any challenging ones; the press certainly doesn’t do it). What really matters here is Obama’s answer—“spread the wealth”—and what it revealed about him.

What also matters is Obama’s response to the later furor about Joe. He has yet to condemn what the press has done, so one can assume he approves of it. Obama even piled on in a somewhat nasty way when he got into the act of mocking Joe.

Another thing that matters is that this is a pattern with Obama. He has used the press before as surrogates to do his dirty work and allow him to maintain plausible deniability (I suppose other candidates might do the same if they could, but they rarely get the opportunity because the press is not in their pockets).

I refer to how Obama got his start in national politics. The difference was that his earlier fling with the press digging up dirt on someone involved not a random questioner but his political rival Blair Hull, who at least was fair game because he was a candidate. The most important part of the story in terms of Joe is the method by which Hull was targeted: it later came out that Obama’s campaign was directly involved in what the press did to torpedo Hull’s chances (and lest you accuse me of right-wing extremism, please note that the link and quote is from the NY Times):

[Obama’s campaign manager] Axelrod is known for operating in this gray area, part idealist, part hired muscle. It is difficult to discuss Axelrod in certain circles in Chicago without the matter of the Blair Hull divorce papers coming up. As the 2004 Senate primary neared, it was clear that it was a contest between two people: the millionaire liberal, Hull, who was leading in the polls, and Obama, who had built an impressive grass-roots campaign. About a month before the vote, The Chicago Tribune revealed, near the bottom of a long profile of Hull, that during a divorce proceeding, Hull’s second wife filed for an order of protection. In the following few days, the matter erupted into a full-fledged scandal that ended up destroying the Hull campaign and handing Obama an easy primary victory. The Tribune reporter who wrote the original piece later acknowledged in print that the Obama camp had “worked aggressively behind the scenes” to push the story. But there are those in Chicago who believe that Axelrod had an even more significant role — that he leaked the initial story.

And then there’s the matter of Obama’s next opponent, Jack Ryan, to whom the same thing happened. I must be careful here; there is documentation that Obama’s staff pushed and promoted the Hull revelations by the press, but there is no evidence so far of the same involvement occurring with the Ryan outing. However, unless it’s a strange coincidence (always a possibility), it is mighty suspicious; Obama’s staff certainly had the tools, the connections, the motivation, and the experience.

Here’s a discussion of Axelrod’s modus operandi, which may sound familiar:

What kind of campaign can we expect from Axelrod in the general election? Overtly positive themes and public posturing complemented by covertly delievered and mercilessly negative “stiletto” attacks against key people around John McCain that are not directly traceable to Axelrod. The model for this strategy is the previous Obama senatorial campaign in Illinois, where Obama’s two most formidible, centimillionaire, rivals, Democrat Blair Hull and Republican Jack Ryan were personally destroyed in the primaries when salacious details from their sealed divorce records were mysteriously leaked to the media, which then pressured for their full release, notably in the pages of the Chicago Tribune.

No single fact about Obama would matter so very much were it not for the existence of patterns. For example, one shady association would be forgivable; Obama seems to have far more than his share. From Frank Marshall Davis to “spiritual mentor” Wright (remember him?), from Ayers to Rezko, from Odinga to Jim Johnson to ACORN to…oh, enough already.

58 Responses to “Obama’s campaign and the press: a long history of working hand in hand”

  1. Uh-huh Says:

    Another good post, Neo.

    I had actually heard about the Jack Ryan outing long before I knew who Obama was.

    I’m a science fiction fan, and Jack Ryan’s wife played “Seven of Nine” on the Star Trek Voyager show.

    Even after Obama became a candidate for president, I didn’t recall the Ryan connection for quite a while, untill after the whole Rev. Wright thing FINALLY came to light.

    It’s amazing to me that the media hasn’t gone into Obama’s background in any great detail, and it doesn’t strike them as at least curious the strange way in which Obama has ‘won’ his elections.

    Yet they can find out all about Joe the Plumber in record time.

  2. M.E. Says:

    As my husband says, Obama couldn’t even pass a security screening to work in a nuclear power plant, and yet he’s running for President.

  3. Dave Moelling Says:

    Obama is a clean hands guy. (Perhaps Clean and Articulate as Slow Joe would say?) But he does love both himself and winning. I don’t think any of this bothers him in the least. Left wind dems were always big on public funding of elections and who destroys it? Obama!

    I was about to say he loves power, but in no instance in his life has he ever used the power he has been given. He does not even appear to have pulled the strings in the background.

  4. Paul Gordon Says:

    What keeps getting pushed aside by some, is that to the best of my knowledge from the reports of the Joe the plumber episode, Obama went to him; not the other way around.

    The One was going door-to-door, in some Ohio neighborhood (with a full cable news camera entourage in tow), saw this guy playing with his son in their yard, and went up to him for a photo-op.

    And then that guy asked him a question that Obama honestly answered (and was caught on tape).

    HOW DARE HE?!! What country does he think he is in?

    This is a genuine honest-to-God mess for the Obama campaign. If Obama had a trace of a sense of humor,
    he could at that time have responded with “OOPS” and that would have been the end of it.

    The vendetta launched against Joe was a terminally stupid decision (by WHOEVER made it).

  5. dane Says:

    Dave M ,
    Though Obama may not have been the puppeteer he certainly okayed the show. In no way shape or form would that kind of thing happen without his knowledge and acquiescence. However, like the Clintons, he learned early and well the value of plausible deniability. What scares me the most is that out of the 600 million he has raised around 200 million is totally untraceable due to the regulations which say any donation under $200 (or $250 ) does not need to be tied to the donor. Where did all this money come from, how much does his campaign know about it, and who wants what in return for it.

    I’m not a big fan of public financing, but I think it might be good for the presidential election only. It would have another great added benefit of getting a lot of these darn commercials of the TV.

    BTW I would be super POed if I played video games and the one I bought six months ago suddenly popped up with a political ad.

  6. Hogarth Says:

    Yet, as we’ve been told repeatedly by Obama himself, his wife (who has been far more proactive in campaigning than Joe ever will be) is off limits.

    And the press willingly complies.

    There are two classes of people these days that I cannot spare time for: 9/11 ‘truthers’ and those that refuse to see, despite the mountains of easily seen evidence, that our press is hopelessly corrupt.

  7. bad haikumenter Says:

    Relentlessly up
    Beat down personal attacks:

  8. Artfldgr Says:

    and this generally means a president totally ineffectual on the geopolitical front (among others).

    nice commentary neo… as usual 🙂

  9. SteveH Says:

    Just imagine Neo what an objectively curious staff at any highschool newspaper could do to this unrealistic image of Obama in short order. Even if by accident, in a 14 month campaign they couldn’t help but expose his overt socialist bent.

    Yet in 14 months we’re just now hearing Obama connected to the shhhhh “S” word?

    I’ve always heard theres three things you need to know to be a plumber. Shit flows downhill, paydays on Friday and the boss is always an asshole. Obviously modern journalism has no such stringent requirements.

  10. thomass Says:

    Some of this has to go on the McCain campaign too (vs just the press). They can’t even play up McCain’s good points… like asking for more GSE regulation years ago… pfft. With a few exceptions (such as ‘the one’ comercials that opened the cracks in the Obama campaign that allowed for other moves) McCain’s campaign has just suuuucked…

  11. Sgt. Mom Says:

    It’s a class issue, as amusing at it is to contemplate in this supposedly class-less 21st century America. (Anyone read Paul Fussell’s “Caste Marks”)

    Joe the Plumber asked an impertinant question of the Crown Prince of the soon-to-be ruling class. Imagine, the efforontery of that prole, asking an embarrassingly direct question! Doesn’t he know that he is to tug his forelock, direct his gaze to the ground and mumble something servile?

    I have gotten the same sort of vibe from the s**tstorm over Gov. Palin – honestly, who does that prole chippy from that godawful flyover state and her no-account degrees from (shudder) some dreadfully down-market state school think she is? Presuming that she can step into a place reserved for the high-anointed! Really, the nerve of these people?!!”

    Steve S – I heard a variant of that from a guy I knew in the Air Force who apprenticed to his uncle (a plumber) for a while: He said, “You have to be spry enough to crawl under buildings, figure out how to thread pipe— and bright enough to know that s**t flows downhill…

  12. Gringo Says:

    Where is COPITHORNE in this discussion?

  13. Oldflyer Says:

    Pattern, what pattern? I don’t see no stinking pattern. Move on folks nothing to see here.

    Back in the primary season I read and heard folks who said that McCain was the only one who could beat Obama or Hillary because the Indepents and the Media loved him. I predicted at the time that the media would turn on him as soon as he became the GOP candidate. But, you know I would think that McCain would have a few chips left with some of the MSM after all of those wonderful “straight talk express” love-ins. If he does he has certainly not used them effectively.

    It is also surprising how little you hear from McCain surrogates. Lieberman shows up occasionally. Guilliani rarely. No one else?

  14. Ymarsakar Says:

    It’s too bad we can’t redeploy Petraeus’ troops in Al Anbar and get them working on Obama’s network. They would crack him like an egg and do so legally as well.

  15. Ymarsakar Says:

    But, you know I would think that McCain would have a few chips left with some of the MSM after all of those wonderful “straight talk express” love-ins. If he does he has certainly not used them effectively.

    The MSM is like somebody in need of a master. If you don’t use the iron hand against them then they will just find somebody else that will.

  16. Artfldgr Says:

    Someone shot the straight talk express..

  17. Perfected democrat Says:

    “…how little you hear from McCain surrogates.”

    So much for the merit of crossing over the aisle, perhaps a line in the sand would have been smarter. We can’t be respected, much less prevail over our enemies if we capitulate to their extortion. I’ve stopped my daily newspaper, let them eat their pencils if they can’t practice honest and objective journalism. Don’t give up your gun, the next step may be Ayer’s anarchists roaming the streets unchallenged in any qualitative way by an Obama collusionist left-wing “regime” (as the left likes to refer to our current executive wing). Sounds paranoid? Not really, we are sliding down the slippery slope of the europeanization of American culture. Freedom of the press is being challenged now as close as Canada. In Israel, Olmert, the left-wing incompetent lame duck, has led events resulting in the recent “disturbances” and lack of timely law enforcement in Akko; He even thinks he has the right to negotiate, in his last two months, events that will impact lives and freedom and in perpetuity. People will someday respect the fact that these microcosms are the substance of the greater reality. The “right” may love money, but the “left” loves power, part and parcel of the politics of envy. One thing leads to another, sometimes tragically…

  18. Lem Says:

    In this election the press has failed the American people.

    The press will be faulted for the buyers remorse that will come as a result of this unserious candidacy.

  19. Lem Says:

    The press it self may regret abandoning McCain.

    Joe Biden has allready predicted that Obama will be tested.

  20. urkel Says:

    If this is what Obama will blurt out to a Plumber, one wonders what he will blurt out to a dictator under stress.

    Bill Clinton would never have been intimidated to such an extent that he would begin to recite mindless socialistic dogma he memorized from one of his politically correct Ivy League schlock meisters. Clinton had been Gov for a dozen years or so.

  21. Logern Says:


    It had long been a practice of more conservative politicians to refer to liberal reforms such as child labor laws and women’s suffrage as “Communist” or “Red plots.” This tendency increased in reaction to the New Deal policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Many conservatives equated the New Deal with socialism or Communism, and saw its policies as evidence that the government had been heavily influenced by Communist policy-makers in the Roosevelt administration. In general, the vaguely defined danger of “Communist influence” was a more common theme in the rhetoric of anti-Communist politicians than was espionage or any other specific activity.

    The primary targets of such suspicions were government employees, those in the entertainment industry, educators and union activists. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person’s real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often greatly exaggerated.

    Oh, what’s this?

    “I am disappointed that the Senate Finance Committee preferred instead to cut the top tax rate of 39.6% to 36%, thereby granting generous tax relief to the wealthiest individuals of our country at the expense of lower- and middle-income American taxpayers.” [McCain Senate floor statement, May 21, 2001]

    Spread the wealth around, John?

  22. sergey Says:

    Communist infiltration of Hollywood, unions and state department is now well established fact, just as Soviet spies among majority of leftist organization. McCarthy was not a nice person himself, and many of his accusations in his days lack strong evidence to support them; but the big picture he seen clearly, and now most of these suspicions turned true. In short, he was right!

  23. Logern Says:

    If you cast a big enough net on rumor and/or slim evidence, you will usually catch some fish. Which is about a stones throw away from just going ahead and rounding up random people for interrogation.

  24. br549 Says:

    And why can’t it happen here?

    Lenin, as cited by Saul Alinsky (from protein wisdom):

    “They have the guns and therefore we are for peace and for reformation through the ballot. When we have the guns, then it will be through the bullet.”

    To accept and defend the constitution is a very large part of being an American. The national anthem, the pledge of allegiance, go without saying. The happenings in this nation seem destined, if not designed, to tear us apart. We must be divided in order to be conquered. It’s looking pretty good so far, eh?

    Without searching for the exact numbers, wasn’t it Stalin who said he was willing to kill 200,000 to keep 200 million in line? [Or kill 20 million?]

    Seriously, why does the left want the guns taken away from law abiding citizens? What purpose does it serve to disarm a free society? How in the hell will you defend yourself and your family from ANYONE who decides your house is the one someone wishes to invade and rob? The police arrive after the fact, with the possibility of no one being alive to protect, much less point to a suspect in a line up.

    “W” has never effectively defended himself, or his actions in the last 8 years. I have always found that strange. It was more than just the MSM not printing it or putting it over the airwaves. McCain was not anyone’s first choice that I know of. Outside of what is talked about on a daily basis, I smell an invisible rat.

    I was a “hippie” in the sixties. Not trained in politics, but not blind either. Jimmy Carter made me a republican. Ronald Reagan convinced me I should be a conservative. And here I stay.

  25. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

    logern – a stones (sic) throw away? But that stone was never thrown.

    When the American people have a sitting VP (Wallace) actively assisting the Soviet Union, even if only rhetorically, they have reason to be concerned. McCarthyism gained mythic status by constant repetition by writers and entertainers, often long on outrage and short on facts. There was legitimate complaint about McCarthy and his tactics, but that account was overdrawn years ago.

  26. John G. Spragge Says:

    A few points worth making:

    1) As thinkers from Jefferson on have clearly understood, the ownership society that conservatives promote cannot coexist with a winner take all society. In order to allow as many people as possible the choices and benefits of an ownership stake in the economy, public policy must encourage the successful to leave room for those whose work makes them successful. We have just seen the consequences for a society that encourages people to take an ownership stake in the country but also encourages those in a position to do so to take the maximum possible financial advantage: the sub-prime mortgage crisis.

    2) Joe the Plumber’s credibility came from the implicit claim that he spoke for American small business people. These people have a high net worth that comes from hard work, interest in what they do, and long hours. They don’t appreciate taxes, don’t like (and mostly don’t need) interference, and they make a real and essential contribution. I admire most of them, and have done business with many. I know what the recent recession and gas prices have done to thousands of small businesspeople. The position of a small business owner no longer involves just culture and perspective; while leftists who enjoy lives padded with various “grants” and the iron rice bowl of the academic economy infuriate me by sneering at these people, the gas price spike and mortgage meltdown have injured many of them, in some cases wiping out years of hard work. If someone claims to speak from a small business perspective, it matters whether or not they have shared the experience of a small business owner over the last few years. To the extent that the press looked into this in the case of “Joe the Plumber”, they only did their jobs.

    3) The fiscal legacy of the Reagan presidency, a conviction that deficits would take care of themselves, has long since run any sane course. Everything Americans import without paying for, every dollar your government spends without taking in as revenue, creates a debt that, increasingly, your children and grandchildren will have to pay. The recent bail-out of Wall street has boosted your deficit to over ten trillion dollars, two years from the date that the millions of children born in 1945 withdraw from the work force and start to collect retirement benefits.

  27. Scottie Says:

    My own recollection of the plumber’s advice is:

    Hot on the left, cold on the right, and $hit flows downhill (unless you put it under pressure!).

  28. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Obama doesn’t even have to say, “Will no one kill me this little priest?”
    The King’s barons were a bit thick.
    Not so Obama’s guys.

  29. The Thunder Run Says:

    Web Reconnaissance for 10/21/2008…

    A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day…so check back often….

  30. Oldflyer Says:

    Spragge, you postulate a straw man with your statement about a “winner take all” society. We clearly do not have a winner take all society; and there is ample opportunity for people to join the ownership society.

    Your analysis of the mortgage crisis is deeply flawed in that it comletely ignores the genesis, which was government manipulation of the market place to achieve social engineering goals. I would also suggest that it had roots in the public education system controlled by the liberal bureacracy and the teacher’s unions that fail to teach people the fundamental skills needed to negotiate real life. In other words, if you don’t understand the sales pitch, be suspicious; and if your income doesn’t exceed your expenses, don’t buy.

    Logern, you also prove yourself adept at building strawmen. The McCarthy “era” was very short-lived; but it had its roots in some very valid concerns.

  31. The Postliberal Says:

    Obama + media: you’d have to go back at least as far as the 1990 NYT article about his election as president of the Harvard Law Review. According to Obama’s Intro to *Dreams from My Father* and the 2004 Preface, this article brought him to the attention of the publishing industry, which is also part of the media.
    Doesn’t the Harvard Law Review elect a president every year?

  32. Sergey Says:

    John.G. Spragge: 10 trillion seems a terrible sum, but in usual metric – ratio of national debt to GDP – USA is on healthy 27th place among 130 nations, with better result than Germany, France, Belgium, Portugal, Norway, Israel and Canada. See wiki, national debt by countries.

  33. stumbley Says:


    Nothing I hate more than a foreigner telling me how to run my country. How’s free speech in Canada going? Want to ask Ezra Levant or Mark Steyn? MacLean’s? Want to send any more of your countrymen here for medical care?

  34. Scottie Says:

    John G. Spragge,

    After reading the article you linked to I’d have to take exception to some of it’s underlying assumptions, starting with point #1.

    Aside from obvious illegal activities, Jefferson himself
    DID live in a “winner take all” society.

    He obviously took exception to what he saw as economic or political tyrannies subjugating the common man (in his world – the farmer) and he did promote measures to give the common man a voice, but he also lived in an era that allowed individuals to speculate to their heart’s content – and fail spectacularly without the government stepping in to save them if they overreached, made bad decisions, or otherwise lost their land or property to others through ill advised actions.

    There are any number of examples of this, for instance in the economic downturn that occurred between 1800 and 1820, and even more colorful examples such as Danial Boone losing money in land speculation (sounds like real estate has always been a risky business!).

    In short, there was no “public policy” to “leave room” for the less successful, and an examination of history pretty much refutes that notion and it’s certainly not a system that was set up or promoted by Jefferson.

    Regarding Point #2, Joe the Plumber has had his life examined far more closely, and had facets of his life impugned for far less than the head of the democrat ticket.

    Had Joe gone out of his way to instigate contact with Obama it would have been different.

    As it was, Obama injected himself into Joe’s world, and as a result of Joe asking a simple question his world has been turned upside down.

    I think it’s this double standard that has so motivated many of Joe’s supporters – and for what it’s worth I disagree that such a detailed examination of his life by the media was justified.

    What’s far more important than Joe’s background is Obama’s answer to his question.

    Point #3 is mainly, as with the previous two points, simply opinion. I disagree with your opinion.

    The Reagan years saw huge economic growth – even with the crash of 1987 wherein the market lost approximately 1/4 of it’s value in a single day.

    This time it took about a week to do the same. Yet, the economy bounced back stronger than ever before after the 1987 crash whereas I’m not sure the government will allow it to do the same this time around.

    It’s looking more like 1933 all over again (remember, the stock market actually crashed in 1929).

    Still, the deficits of the Reagan years were more the result of excessive spending by a democrat controlled congress than by what Reagan asked for in his proposed budgets.

    Remember his plea for the “line item veto”?

    Remember the theatrics of him bringing a wheelbarrow load of paper into his State of the Union speech – it was the federal budget!

    He had a choice to either sign the spending bills in total and keep the government running – or veto them and shut the government down (not a very popular choice!).

    It was a straight up or down decision with no room for negotiation.

    Still, the democratically controlled congress would not have been able to justify their excessive spending if it had not been for the fact that federal tax revenues went UP during this time frame directly due to the tax reduction policies Reagan managed to implement during his presidency.

    Had the democrat congress controlled it’s spending habits, in conjunction with the increased revenues from Reagan’s tax policies, those deficits may arguably have never happened – or been much lower than they ultimately were.

  35. SteveH Says:

    How does a typical democrat critisise national debt while simultaneously seeking constant increases in entitlement spending?

    These people are a walking contradiction in logic.

  36. Sergey Says:

    Again, Japan is on the second place in public debt/GDP ratio, just after Zimbabwe, and eurozone more deep in debt than USA. Is it also the result of Reaganomics?

  37. njcommuter Says:

    Obama wants to take away hope: the hope of Joe The Plumber that he can run and prosper a business.

  38. EL Rider Says:

    I attended New Trier East High School with Jack Ryan and our families are friends. Here in Chicago I have quite a few Democratic friends and the contents of Jack’s sealed divorce papers were known among some Democrats well before the Chicago Tribune triumphed in their legal quest to ruin Jack’s Senate campaign.

    Jack Ryan attended Dartmouth, Harvard Business and Harvard Law, he made partner at Golman Sachs and retired to teach at an inner city school. Blair Hull was a very succesful stock options trader who sold his firm, Hull Trading to Goldman Sachs before becoming a philanthropist, the Hull Family Foundation is still located in the Chicago Board of Trade Building. Hull was also very supportive of Democratic politicians throughout the state of Illinois during the years prior to his Senate run. Both of those men have experience that is worlds and worlds beyond Barack Obama’s.

    Obtaining sealed divorce papers was not all that the Chicago media did to help Barack Obama, they also regularly told us that he was a “mainstream Christian.” It took media well outside of Chicago to let us know about the racial seperation and liberation theology that was being preached from the pulpit of Trinity United. Most of the local press (with a few notable exceptions – hello John Kass) has been so far in the bag for Obama that much of the national political coverage has been akin to well written high school reporting for two years now.

    The fact that David Axelrod was involved in those sleazy campaign tactics is no surprise. Axelrod and by extension Obama represent the very worst that Chicago has to offer this world.

  39. copithorne Says:

    I haven’t seen this same kind of moral judgment that Joe “made himself fair game” by asking a question. If you could cite examples of people saying this, it would help me understand what is going on. It seems more as though the McCain campaign used Joe as a symbol of their campaign and the news media investigated the symbol. It isn’t a matter of right or wrong. But this is what will happen. I am not going to defend the media which I see as mediocre, insipid, oriented to conflict and not to education.

    Joe went on the Mike Huckabee show. Did he “make himself fair game” for going on the Mike Huckabee show by asking a question? In most places, the moral judgment isn’t relevant.

    Did some journalists treat him shabbily or unfairly? It is certainly possible. However, in these posts and threads, no one is able to sustain their attention for long enough to present an argument about which journalists treated him unfairly and how. If that conversation could take place, it could be interesting. But it seems everyone is too impatient to assemble rhetorical arguments in which Barack Obama and his campaign are responsible for the conduct of the media.

    The idea that because Barack Obama hasn’t condemned the behavior of journalists implicates him in their behavior is not sound moral reasoning. I haven’t read all of Neo-neocon, but I am going to go out on a limb and say that she has not condemned underage sex tourism in the Dominican Republic. It would not, however, be a logical inference to say that Neo-neocon supports pedophilia.

    I don’t have the sense that this is a real issue – or Obama’s “shady associations” are real issues. It seems more as though people are assembling rhetoric to justify a sense of victimization and outrage that they hold for other reasons. I think it is worthwhile to try to stick to the real reasons about why we prefer one candidate over the other. That would lead more to the possibility that we could find common ground or disagree honestly.

  40. Oldflyer Says:

    At the risk of beating a suffering horse, I forgot a point I had planned to make to John G. Spragge about the level of opportunity in our society.

    Look at the Presidential campaign.

    Obama and his wife have risen to become millionaires, and are close to the epitome of our society in political terms. Regardless of the outcome of the campaign Obama will at least remain a member of the U.S. Nobility, aka the U.S. Senate.

    Biden, by his own (exaggerated?) narrative rose from a blue collar background to also become a member of the U.S. Nobility. In financial terms he now owns a home valued at $3mil. That is a pretty nice piece of the ownership society.

    Sarah and Todd Palin through their own hard work and competence have become financially successful; and she is near the top of our political pyramid regardless of what happens in the Presidential campaign.

    Some people might see John McCain as the exception, and a child of privilege, since his father and grandfather were Admirals. In fact both of those men worked their way up through a very competitive system through hard work and great personal sacrifice. Although being the son of an Admiral gains you some advantages in the Navy, it does not assure you of anything. McCain has in fact made his own way–again, in part, through tremendous personal sacrifice.

    The principals in this campaign illustrate, as well as any example, that there is plenty of room for those who aspire to succeed in this society.

    By the way, Joe the Plumber simply asked a question while standing in his own front yard. He did not claim to represent anyone. The question wasn’t the problem; the answer was. If the media and other Obama surrogates hadn’t attacked him, Joe would have faded from public consciousness within days, if not hours.

  41. Scottie Says:

    Regarding Joe the Plumber (will he ever be known by any other name now?)….hereafter abbreviated as JTP….

    While he has since made public appearances after the one time interaction with Obama, to now use those public appearances to justify the incredible level of scrutiny being applied to him is illogical.

    Had not Obama inserted himself into the situation, the situation for JTP (maybe he should sell t-shirts with that name on em!) would not have materialized and there would never have been any interest on the part of the media to scrutinize him so closely.

    One followed the other, through no fault of JTP.

    In response to the media attacks JTP is undergoing, if one is being pilloried so mercilessly by the media one has two options:

    Option #1 is to suck it up, tuck em in, and studiously try to remember one’s proper place in society as one shuts up, grovels before his betters, and takes the media beating for the greater good of society and The Chosen One.

    Option #2 is to use whatever means is available to get one’s own side of the story out and have at least some semblence of balance in the public eye, and attempt to maintain whatever semblence of respectability one has left in the world.

    JTP just doesn’t strike me as the kind of guy to suck it up – so good for him!

  42. Oldflyer Says:

    Copithorne you must have long arms; because you certainly have an impressive reach.

    To equate Neo not condemning sex tourism to Obama remaining silent while the media attacks his launches false attacks on his opponents (even in jest) defies reason.

    On more than one occasion, I have seen Obama call for John McCain to repudiate alleged slurs against the ONE. McCain has consistently done so. It is not unreasonable to expect Obama to abide by his own standards.

    I think I responded to you on this subject once before. It is very hard to believe that a literate person, and you are that, has failed to notice that a very large segment of the media has operated in Obama’s interest. The evidence is simply overwhelming. (I see the front page of the Washington Post every morning, to cite one expample). If Obama is going to use the media as he has, then he shares some responsibility to critique their actions.

  43. Oldflyer Says:

    Aaah, need an edit function–or a better proof reader. Clearly, the media either attacks; or they launch false attacks. Even I would not intentionally suggest they do both in the same sentence.

  44. John G. Spragge Says:

    Point 1: To quote from the Chicago Fed:

    In the United States wealth is highly concentrated and very unequally distributed: the richest 1% hold one third of the total wealth in the economy.

    Such a disparity comes as close to a winner take all society as I would ever like to see, and quite clearly creates problems for anyone who aspires to create an ownership society. Previous American government plans to create an ownership society culminated in the civil war era Homestead Act, which granted a tract of land to anyone who would prepare it for agricultural use.

    Point 2:
    It would help if those who find the investigation into the life of “Joe the Plumber” overly intrusive could provide examples of the reporting they object to. I stand by my central point: that nobody who hasn’t experienced the stresses small business people in the US have suffered over the past couple of years can speak for them. That doesn’t mean some reporters may not have gone overboard.

    Point 3:
    The United States has in fact run a continuous trade deficit through the Reagan Administration and into the present. The United States has in fact run a government deficit for most of that period, with the exception of the later Clinton years, and has in fact run up an enormous debt throughout the Bush Administration. While the US has a huge economy, and thus a lot of room to run up debt, I would point out that
    a) Unless you do something about it, the trends point to a steadily worsening debt, as opposed to Canada’s debt position, which has generally improved, and
    b) your trade deficit means that foreigners will hold an increasing and unhealthy proportion of your debt.

  45. Scottie Says:

    Ok, this is getting to be kind of funny.

    Re: John G. Spragge and the Homestead Act

    Using the Homestead Act to prop up an argument that government policy in 1862 was deliberately intending to *create* an *ownership* society illustrates a basic lack of knowledge of US history.

    This act cannot be understood without first comprehending why the western territories stayed locked up for so long – and why in 1862 of all years they could suddenly pass this Act and what the ramifications of thousands of settlers into these territories that would later become states would mean to politicians of that era and what was going on at that exact moment in US history.

    It was about political power, not empowering the common man.

    Re: John G. Spragge and Joe the Plumber

    Example #1 – Insisting that his name is not really “Joe” because he is only using a shortened version of his middle name. I know a very successful female engineer that does the same thing, with no ulterior motives whatsoever other than personal preference.

    Example #2 – Tossing out information regarding what taxes he owed. It had zero to do with the validity of the question he asked The Chosen One. The only purpose served was to attempt to diminish the stature of the man who dared ask a serious question. From what I understand of how the tax system in that state works, it appears to be very easy to owe a tax lien without realizing it immediately.

    Example #3 – Claiming he was not really a “plumber” after reporters “investigated” and jumped on the fact he had no license.

    Where I live, there are a lot of guys called “plumbers” who have no license but do work under the umbrella license of the company they work for – same as Joe.

    It’s common practice in the construction industry – an industry I know a little about since I’ve been involved from the engineering side of it for quite a while now.

    Re: John G. Spragge and trade deficit, national debt, budget deficit, etc.

    Which is it? In your original comment you seemed to bemoan budget deficits. Now you’re referencing trade deficits and “government deficits” (raise your hand if anyone thinks we have too little government), while claiming there was no such thing under Clinton (“balanced” budget – but still a huge national debt, and even the “balanced budget” was done with accounting trickery.).

    These are all different things…..please remain consistent as it’s impossible to intelligently debate a point if you keep changing what you are referring to, and using terms interchangeably for issues which are distinctly different.

  46. copithorne Says:

    Oldflyer, you’re kind of jumping around a little bit.

    We were talking about Joe the Plumber. Than you switch to talking about media attacks on John McCain. This switching around is part of the confusion of this thread.

    I can’t think of occasions in which Barack Obama has asked John McCain to repudiate slurs. The approach is more to assert that John McCain campaigning on character slurs shows a lack of engagement in solving problems faced by the American people.

    Certainly I have seen Barack Obama repudiate investigation of Sarah Palin’s children and I have seen him repudiate any jeering of John McCain that might happen at his rallies. What else should he repudiate?

    Come to think of it, I haven’t seen you condemn underage sex tourism either. Makes you wonder…

    No, I do not regard the Washington Post as acting in Obama’s interest. It’s true that “reality has a well known liberal bias” and sometimes the Post is obliged to report reality. But I regard the Post as somewhere between mediocre and conservative.

  47. lolajl Says:

    Au contraire, copithorne. I receive WaPo locally, and they’re between mediocre and liberal.

  48. Oldflyer Says:

    Coppie, just responding to you. Based on your comment, I assume you do not read the Washington Post. If you did you would know that you cannot get past the front page without seeing my point. If you do read it and really see the Post as somewhere between mediocre and conservative then you are so far out in left field that you cannot see what is going on before your eyes. Mediocre I grant. Less ridiculously leftist than the NYT or LAT, possibly. Conservative does not compute.

    I have addressed Joe TP. He was minding his own business in his yard when he was accosted by your hero. He said his bit and then tried to go on with his life. Next thing he knew the media were all over his driveway and in his private life. Did you miss that? His recent appearances on Huckabee, et al are in response to the slime attack he experienced.

    I think I told you once before that your meaningless arguments are not worth a response. You suckered me in. Good job of hooking me. You dangled a fly and I took it just like the trout I love to torment.

    I do want to go on record, however, as saying that underage sex tourism in the Dominican Republic is not something I know anything about. I doubt that Neo does either. But, since you seem to be expert, let us have your opinion on the subject. I expect it would be at least as meaningful as your opinion on the Presidential candidates.

  49. Barb Says:

    We’re in big trouble, aren’t we?

  50. copithorne Says:

    I’ll answer the questions.

    I probably missed a good deal of the media hanging out in Joe’s yard. My inquiry in these threads has been why people here would hold Barack Obama accountable for the behavior of the media.

    It strikes me as a world view that will lead to increasing isolation and marginalization.

    And I disagree with the tolerance found here for underage sex tourism. It is a deeply repugnant practice.

  51. John G. Spragge Says:

    1) The Homestead Act aimed to encourage small-holding, at least partly to break the power of the slave labour economy of the ante-bellum South. This just makes again the point that you can concentrate ownership or you can disperse it, but that attempt to achieve both simply don’t work.

    2) An Ohio small business owner made the points I would have made about the “Joe the plumber” story, only better. And I still see no evidence of any reporter treating “Joe” with anything even remotely like the brutality shown by Michelle Malkin et. al. to the Frost family. When they get to peeking into Joe’s windows to inspect his counter tops, let me know.

    3) Both the trade deficit and the government budget deficit appeared as chronic fixtures of the American scene under Reagan; both grew far worse under the current president, and both will eventually lead to ruin if allowed to persist.

  52. Logern Says:

    Michelle Bachmann (R-Minn)- speaking up for your values?

    MATTHEWS: How many members of Congress, do you think are in that anti-American crowd you describe? How many congresspeople you serve with? I mean, there’s 435 members of Congress…

    BACHMANN: You’d have to ask them, Chris. I’m focusing on Barack Obama and the people that he’s been associating with. And I’m very worried…

    MATTHEWS: But do you suspect there are a lot of people you serve with?

    BACHMANN: … about their anti-American nature.

    MATTHEWS: Well, he’s a United States senator from Illinois. He’s one of the people you suspect as being anti-American. How many people in the Congress of the United States do you think are anti-American? You’ve already suspected Barack Obama. Is he alone or are there others? How many do you suspect of your colleagues as being anti- American?

    BACHMANN: What I would say — what I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti- America? I think people would be — would love to see an expose like that.

  53. Richard Aubrey Says:

    Some of the congressional antics would be explained by big checks from Saudi Arabia.
    Restricting domestic production is good for SA and not for us.
    I can’t see any other reason.
    One Saudi prince said that it paid to be generous with retired State department folks because that meant they’d have lots of friends at State.
    Wonder if he balks at Congress.
    Let’s see. Dellums and Cuba. That moron from Boston and FARC. Kennedy working with the USSR to stiff Reagan’s foreign policy.
    McKinney, dem from the dark side of the moon.

  54. Scottie Says:

    John G. Spragge,

    1) Apparently you don’t realize that “antebellum” refers to the *pre-civil war* era, and that the federal government was already engaged in a war against the South in 1862. While you were already going down hill, after that you just picked up speed.

    2) So now, instead of responding to charges that the media has been unduly intrusive into Joe The Plumber’s life, you are trying to shift the conversation in trying to compare this with another incident without answering the charges.

    Answer the charges truthfully first – and then we can discuss (neoneocon permitting) other situations and other people.

    3) Debt backed by the US government, whether it’s national debt, budget deficits, or trade deficits (since you still don’t want to be specific) have a long history in our Republic.

    If you’re talking unadjusted dollar amounts not taking into account inflation – yes we have a high debt.

    However, a better measure of national debt is as a percentage of GDP – in which case the national debt was higher during the 1940’s and 1950’s as a percentage of GDP.

    I also seem to recall reading – since you mentioned the Civil War era – that the debt Lincoln racked up during the Civil War wasn’t actually paid off until around WWI.

    One must maintain a certain long term perspective in discussing these issues if one wants to be taken seriously.

  55. Dr. Slogan Says:

    It be a real October surprise be if media starts paying serious attention to the most shocking Obama’s connection: his strong support (at taxpayers’ expense) of Odinga, the man behind Kenya’s recent crisis, who with Obama’s help ran “Vote for Change” campaign: http://drslogan.wordpress.com/2008/10/22/kenya-barack-obamas-other-change/

  56. Mrs Whatsit Says:

    2) An Ohio small business owner made the points I would have made about the “Joe the plumber” story, only better. And I still see no evidence of any reporter treating “Joe” with anything even remotely like the brutality shown by Michelle Malkin et. al. to the Frost family. When they get to peeking into Joe’s windows to inspect his counter tops, let me know.

    Hi John. This is called the tu quoque fallacy. You could show me your Michelle Malkin and I could raise you my Michael Moore and you could come back with Ann Coulter and I could come back with most of the diarists on DailyKos and we could go on like that for some time — but we’d be wasting our time. It would all be irrelevant to what is under discussion here: the rotten behavior of the press and the Democratic party toward a voter who did nothing more than ask a legitimate question. Pointing the finger at some conservative who did some other bad thing is nothing more than a distraction, and it’s a dumb one at that, since if you truly thought what Michelle Malkin did was so bad, t you’d be criticizing your side for imitating her, rather than defending them for it.

  57. John G. Spragge Says:

    OK, let’s break this down into three allegations:

    1) The Democratic Party has behaved “rottenly” to Joe.

    As far as I can see, nobody here had adduced any actual hard evidence that the democratic party or the Obama campaign did anything to Joe. If you have actual evidence, as opposed to rage against a supposedly “biased” press, bring it on.

    2) We ought to listen to conservative indignation over this

    Sorry, no sale. Prominent conservatives have already claimed that any person who puts themselves forward in the public arena makes themselves fair game for anything, and despite repeated and, in my view, disingenuous attempts to draw a distinction between Graeme Frost and Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the moral remains: if you live by the law of the jungle, you sometimes get stuck being the zebra. Whining doesn’t help. Grow up and deal with it.

    3) The media, in fact checking Joe, treated him badly.

    This charge rests on three revelations:
    a) He does not actually have the first name of Joe. Forgive me if I don’t perceive that revelation as an undue invasion of “joe’s” privacy, or indeed as any kind of injury at all.

    b) He does not have a plumber’s license
    I consider this absolutely germaine to the question. The use of “Joe the Plumber”, as opposed to Joe the ordinary guy, implies that “Joe” speaks for the legion of small business people who make the United States work. As I say, I know some of these people. I know the economic hits many of them have taken over the past couple of years. I have no idea how that has affected their votes, but I do know that nobody who has not shared their actual experience can speak for them. Someone named Joe who dreams of one day making a good living as a small business owner, and Joe who actually sweats out the job of meeting payroll in the Bush economy will have very different experiences, and the press merely did their job in determining which perspective this “Joe” spoke from.

    (c) Samuel J. (Joe) Wurzelbacher owes back taxes. OK, I might hold of on this, but I can’t object to it in principle. If someone wants to make arguments about tax policy, it makes some sense to ask whether or not they actually pay their own tax obligations. And tax liens go on the public record; the press has hardly behaved intrusively here.

    If in fact the press has done nothing worse than expose these three facts, they have done little more than their job of informing the American people on issues of importance to them. And given what you and others have posted so far, they haven’t crossed any serious lines to do it, having revealed things on the public record and mostly of public interest. See the New Yorker for a good analysis of the issue.

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Previously a lifelong Democrat, born in New York and living in New England, surrounded by liberals on all sides, I've found myself slowly but surely leaving the fold and becoming that dread thing: a neocon.

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