I've stayed away from this story as much as possible, largely because I detest when campaigns try to make mascots out of individual voters. It's right up there with the pigeonholing of certain Americans as "soccer moms", "NASCAR dads" and the like.
I saw the video before most of America did, so when John McCain brought him up in the final debate, I saw it coming. What I didn't anticipate was him "mascot-ing" Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a guy who merely asked Obama a question in a ropeline. It was thoroughly insulting to think that McCain thought this would resonate with voters (it didn't), especially those of us who are suffering through this economic downturn, but don't have anything in common with this guy, someone who McCain (presumably, at the time) didn't know anything about beyond the conversation you see above.
Ta-Nehisi Coates took the most salient point out of the exchange:
It really says a lot about Obama as a politician. I don't think John McCain could have handled that situation. I'm almost certain Sarah Palin couldn't do it. Barack looks him in the eye, is respectful but direct, and makes his point. This is the difference between true toughness and bluster. Watch the tape--it's why Obama is winning. It doesn't matter that Joe isn't voting for Obama.
There were many hints to that effect since McCain made him famous (something McCain blamed on Obama, despite mentioning him 21 times in the debate). He had one of the most awkward pressers I've ever seen the day after the debate, and it was revealed that he'd already donated to McCain's campaign. There have been theories that he's been a GOP plant all along. But now, Joe the Plumber has made it official. He's endorsed McCain:
Joe Wurzelbacher, a.k.a. "Joe the Plumber," on Tuesday twice agreed with a claim from an audience member at a John McCain rally that "a vote for Barack Obama is a vote for the death to Israel."
No wonder the neocons love this guy. The death of Israel?
I thought mascots didn't talk...
Joe goes on Fox News and is stumped when asked to actually back up his "death to Israel" charge against Obama:
SHEPARD SMITH: Joe, do you know Barack Obama’s positions on Israel?
SAMUEL J. WURZELBACHER: Listen, I know you wanna really get some answers on this one, I’m just not gonna help you out here, Shepherd. Let people go out and find, that’s what I’ve been telling people. […] Listen, you don’t want my opinion on foreign policy. I know just enough probably to be dangerous.
SHEPARD SMITH: Yeah, well that’s what I was kinda wondering.