Thursday, February 26, 2009


A lot of people are talking about Patrick Ruffini's essay at the Next Right encouraging his fellow right-wingers to end the Joe the Plumberization of the Republican Party. Yes, Republicans would be wise to stop worshipping Joe -- but Ruffini is wrong about the reason they're doing it:

This culture of identity politics means we get especially defensive about the Liberal Majority's main lines of attack, because we think of our position as inherently fragile. The one that spawned the Cult of Joe the Plumber was the meme that Republicans want tax cuts only for the rich and that we don't stand for working Americans. When find a highly visible figure who contradicts this notion, we swing into action. And we go on to press the argument to the point to absurdity, replete with plungers and custom "Joe" yard signs to prove our working class chops.

That's a load of crap. Right-wingers embraced Joe not because we made them feel defensive but because they've deluded themselves into believing that they're the natural champions of (cue Sarah Palin) wearers of "the Carhartts and the steel-toed boots," of country-music fans and NASCAR fans and huntin', fishin', good ol' boys. Right-wingers have believed all that for years, and have believed for just as long that the Democratic Party is the party of coastal, frou-frou, Brie-eating chardonnay swillers. (See? The belief goes so far back that even the linguistic shorthand seems twenty years out of date).

Ruffini even expresses this nonsense himself, declaring that "Republicans thrive as the party of normal Americans -- the people in the middle culturally and economically." (Even though the last three Republican presidents were a Hollywood millionaire and two zillionth-generation Connecticut-born preppies, Patrick?)

Sorry, Mr. R. -- your side developed a crush on Joe because he feeds your self-delusion. Want to blame someone? Look in the mirror.

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