Joe the Plumber and the Last 500 Names in the Toledo Telephone Directory


“I’d rather be governed  by the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than the faculty of Harvard University”.- William F Buckley

I’m not sure when William Buckley first spoke that line. I’ve seen it quoted in a variety of ways.

Like most people,  I heard it, and didn’t read it. Unlike most people, I also considered it one of the most thought-provoking comments ever made by an intellectual of any stripe.

That Buckley might have meant it scares a lot of people, including GOP establishment, so it’s not a favorite Republican punchline.

So, did Bill Buckley really mean it?

Several years ago I wrote him and asked that very question, and as was his manner, he answered with a brief note hammered out on his typewriter, probably held in his lap while being driven to the airport: “You bet I did.”

Considering that William F Buckley Jr was one of the founders of the modern conservative movement and one of its leading intellectuals, from the finest of old New England families, the best of classical educations…all the things we associate with true social and political elites (remember, I distinguish between “elites” and “elitists”)…consider the enormity of that comment. Consider its profundity.

Now, Buckley wasn’t saying throw out everyone in Congress with a college degree and replace them by going down to the corner grocers, butchers, and florists, or opening up manhole covers to find Art Carney, and enrolling their services instead. But he was damned close.

William Buckley was saying that the skill sets required to govern well have very little to do with that rack of sheepskins hanging on the wall behind the desk. He was saying that it’s the broad experiences in life,  the collective experiences of the lives of the ordinary men and women…about whom and for the Constitution was writtenthe acquired common sense, and that body of moral virtues that the common man must cling to in order to grow and prosper, these are the greatest qualifying assets. These are greater than all those sheepskins combined… in part because they are often denied our so-called best and brightest on that account alone.

Meet Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher

Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher’s name really is down there at the bottom of the Toledo telephone directory. He actually has gone by “Joe” all his life and he actually is a plumber, which implies, if you read the barbs thrown down by the Marcy Kaptur camp (incumbent Democrat leftie)…

…he’s never read a book, only watches the Lions, Pistons and Tigers on TV, and maybe “Home Improvement” re-runs, and catches the occasional Mud Hens game…and that two-thirds of the households on Toledo’s north side has seen that vertical smile peeping out from above his belt as he squats to connect a pipe.

So, I wonder what Buckley would think about Joe the Plumber.

While you ponder that, we already know what Democrats think, for the Marcy Kaptur piece (above) gives a clear idea. For by going after Mitt Romney for being too damned rich, and Joe the Plumber for being too damned ordinary, they’ve just about defined their private view of America’s entire private working sector….and they’re all just no damned good.

You see, the GOP is putting up a presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, whose only smell of privilege is that he was privately schooled in suburban Detroit from the 7th-12th grades. His father was a self-made man and rich (we were a Rambler family since ’51), but that does not bestow a special rank on anyone. Other than those six years Mitt made it on his own skills and work ethic.

With the name “Kennedy” still ringing in the Democrat Party’s ear, Bobby’s son Robert’s ex-wife having just passed away, and John Kerry’s unmistakable profile and pretentious Algernon Pettifogger voice ever-present as a spokesman for the Party, the Dems can’t escape the stink of rank and privilege. So they dodge it, and try to play the class warfare game without ever bringing it up.

Still, when you look “privilege” up in the dictionary it still says “See Chappaquiddick” after all these years.

So the Democrats can only attack that part of wealth about which they genuinely disapprove, and in the end, that is earned wealth and success. It’s the black justice (Thomas) or businessman (Cain) or scholar (Sowell) who made it without affirmative action. Talk about having to pay off college loans,  that is a debt that can never be repaid. It is the businessman (Romney) who made good by his own boot straps, or the tradesman (Joe) who became good at his craft without having to pay all the “other” union dues besides regular union dues.

It’s the self-made man Democrats hate, and while we find this in Mitt Romney, we see it multiplied in the tens of thousands in Joe the Plumber, for there are so many, many more just like him.

And I think Joe the Plumber is a type about which William Buckley would have very much approved, although I can’t speak for Charles Krauthammer, Ann Coulter, George Will and others.

Joe the Plumber lays bare the Democrats’ secret worship of “class and privilege,” as a thing that can only be bestowed by others already in the club.  For it is at the other end of the economic and educational ladder, the self-made citizen, that the Democrats show their true hatred for personal accomplishment. They cannot abide the man who came up in life, business, and civic duty (politics) without having first had his ticket punched by his presumed betters. There are only a few Mitt Romneys out there, but there are millions of Joes.

Democrats are opposed to both Mitt and Joe on the same grounds of “class,” namely they made it without owing any un-repayable debts. Every tradesman and worker, carrying a union card or not, should be made to know that this is how their union leadership looks to the Democrat Party, as mongrels who must be grateful for whatever their masters will feed them, and who, in turn, must look upon their own rank and file just as the Democrats have just described Joe the Plumber, as unqualified in anything except “go fetch.”

Mitt Romney is the grandson of an ordinary man, the son of a man who did well on his own merits, and who seems to have followed that same lineage. Wealthy and successful, still he carries no marks of “bestowed rank and privilege.”

In like manner, Joe Wurzelbacher, found down there at the bottom of the Toledo telephone directory, is the son of equally ordinary people as Mitt’s grandfather, only one generation removed. He learned his craft in the military, is good at it, as he has all the virtues of citizenship and leadership. He also carries no stamps of bestowed “rank” except as given by the Constitution, that of citizen….fitting Buckley’s prescription to a tee.

Like all self-made citizens, you will know Joe the Plumber by the people who call him names.

You can support Joe: joeforcongress2012

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Lady Penguin
May 20, 2012 4:55 pm

You always have a way of knowing exactly what goes on in the minds and hearts of these folks, Vassar. Thank you for your analysis. You’re so right, the Dems fear the self-made man or woman, for they are the “common man/woman” who this country was made for. The Joe the plumbers of America build their Houses to stand for generations to come. Ordinary citizens, doing extraordinary things in perilous times.

May 20, 2012 6:16 pm

In agreement with the fair Lady here I add this: I really would like to see more “everymen / women” run for office than these wolves flaunting their sheepskins whenever they get a chance. Sadly for us but probably fortunately for them most are too busy running their business and their families to do much more politically than show up on election day or attend the occasional county meeting. I do hope for every Joe the plumber there is at least one more in each voting district who, like him, has finally had enough and decided to try and do… Read more »

May 20, 2012 7:18 pm

My brother was in the Air Force and learned the pipe fitting trade there. He never went overseas or saw combat but he handled everything on the base. When he came out he too had to start at the bottom of the barrel with the union. This is really the first time in her 30 years that Marcy is finding that she has to “campaign” and like true Dems, and the progressive she is, she has learned well from Obama and is pulling ever dirty trick out there to discredit Joe. I don’t live in her district any more but… Read more »

May 22, 2012 8:12 pm

…and that two-thirds of the households on Toledo’s north side has seen that vertical smile peeping out from above his belt as he squats to connect a pipe.

Reminded me of a song fit to whistle on our way to the polls this fall…

“You may see me tonight
with an illegal smile,
it don’t cost very much
but it lasts a long while.
Won’t you please tell the man
I didn’t kill anyone
no I’m just tryin’
to have me some fun!”

Brian Hibbert
May 27, 2012 9:17 am

For “the party of the workin man” the Democrats seem to insult the working people of the country on a regular basis. This Democrat who assumes that since a man is a plumber “he’s never read a book” just shows how much contempt they actuall have for “the workin man”.