Joe the Plumber is a fantasy and a fallacy. Chris Bowers at OpenLeft sums up the Myth and Power of Joe the Plumber succinctly:

In what has to be the stupidest day of the campaign since the “Lipstick on a Pig” incident, there are nearly 4,000 Google News results for “Joe the Plumber” today. Now, it turns out that he isn’t named Joe, isn’t a Plumber, isn’t an undecided voter, isn’t even properly registered to vote, and doesn’t even pay taxes. Hard to imagine that many falsehoods packed into a single story of this utterly minimal consequence, but never underestimate the degree to which dominant news stories can be based on mendacity, especially when they are pushed by Republican campaigns.

The reason the story is so popular is almost certainly connected to the national, established media’s continuing fetish for socially conservative whites as the dominant archetype for swing voters in America.

No one is saying it so I will. The McCain campaign’s use of Joe the Plumber has a deeply racist core at heart. It’s a classic dogwhistler. And the media has a fascination with racism and racists. Make no mistake – McCain’s repeated seizure during the last presidential debate on “Spread the wealth around” – words taken out of context from the conversation Obama had with “Joe” before the debate – has a strategic purpose.

It marks an attempt to frighten voters who um, just can’t put their finger on why they don’t trust Obama. It mis-represents Obama’s middle class favorable tax policy. It reinforces the concept that no matter what he says, Obama is really a black militant/terrorist/communist who wants to take your nice hard-earned money and give it the very lazy, shiftless, irresponsible niggers who caused the current financial crisis by their unreasonable, uppity dreams of owning a home in America. OK, there’s so much to deconstruct in that sentence that is just so…very…wrong.

Leave it to Sarah “Ig’nant” Palin to speak a bit more plainly and dogwhistle shrilly to the target demographic from which she sprang. From Palin’s speech in North Carolina following the debate (emphasis mine):

“And I, I begged our speech writers, ‘Don’t make me say ‘Joe the
Plumber,’ please, in any speeches.’ And I was asked, ‘Just one time,
just at this fund raiser,'” she recounted. “Just make sure people
understand that we know what Joe the Plumber was talking about when he
was confronting Barack Obama
and saying, ‘Wait a minute, aren’t you
going to take my money, take my earnings and give it to somebody else
who maybe hadn’t worked as hard as I have worked?'”

“What about this reward for strong work ethic, isn’t that what
capitalism is all about
? Isn’t that what the American economy should
be based upon? And so when I mention Joe the Plumber, know that that’s
why I do mention it. Because we understand what his concerns were as
he spoke to Barack Obama
there in that rope line,” she added.

See, Joe the Plumber gets extra bonus conservative points for standing up to the red menace that is Barack Obama. The McCain campaign plans to work the “Spread the Wealth” frame hard to distort Obama’s tax policy. This notion in the conservative movement that black leaders such as Martin Luther King are communists is still surprisingly persistent and popular. Google “Martin Luther King” and you’ll see within the first few results a popular site claiming to debunk the MLK myth. It’s complete fantasy, like Joe the Plumber.

The NY Times reports:

“Spread the wealth around: We will focus acutely on that,” said Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s chief strategist. “Spread the wealth around is a big mistake.”

It’s up to the media to strip the Joe the Plumber and “Spread the Wealth” frame bare and show people the dark racist heart of this argument.

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