Politics Gets Plumber and Plumber

Politics Gets Plumber and Plumber

Has this presidential campaign plumbed the depths yet? Or will it get plumber and plumber? Republican nominee John McCain has summoned Joe "The Plumber" to shore up his sagging electoral fortunes. There are other tradesmen he might have enlisted, at least as far as me and my family are concerned.

My grandmother, Mum Mum, rest her soul, could distinguish plumbers from highwaymen, but just barely. When she summoned one to fix a bathroom leak in her shoreline Connecticut home, she knew he would be on the clock from the moment he set foot on familial ground, if not sooner.

So she ushered him forthwith into the upstairs water closet despite the lamentable fact that my brother Mike happened to be dawdling upon the porcelain throne. Legend has it that Mike’s screams could be heard on Long Island. I hope you will excuse me if I say that the incident was a wrenching experience for the entire Holahan clan.

My matrilineal DNA notwithstanding, I am not proposing here to damn all plumbers, to solder them together, so to speak, with purple propane prose. I once called one of these august tradesmen and he came within a month or three, so I have no ax to grind against the fraternity.

No, I aim to narrow my field of fire somewhat. My target is the bald, Buckeye, unlicensed, quarter-million-dollar subspecies. Joe the Ohio Plumber, who was made famous by Sen. McCain in the third (and mercifully last) presidential debate. Joe is worried that his taxes could go up under a Barack Obama administration now that he expects soon to be pulling down a cool $250,000 or more a year.

I’ve done some quick calculations to determine how a plumber would accomplish this remarkable earnings feat. I owe my grandmother and brother that much. Since Joe didn’t answer his phone — behavior that is hardly uncommon among plumbers — I have made several assumptions. Joe is producing eight billable hours a day, six days a week and works 50 weeks a year.

John McCain said that Joe works seven days a week, but he is reportedly a Republican, which means that Joe spends Sundays in church. I gave him two weeks vacation to catch up on his billing. I also deducted a few hours a day for lunch, coffee breaks, attending political rallies and trips to the package store (since he works overtime for the GOP as Joe Six Pack).

If all of the above is true – and since we’re in the middle of a political campaign, it doesn’t have to be – Joe is charging his customers more than $100 an hour. Call me a Bolshevik, call me plumb loco, even call me late for dinner, my fellow subprime Americans, but I am having a dilly of a time conjuring up a thimbleful of sympathy for this poor, oppressed, whining, nut-tightening, GOP poster boy. Leave it to the Republicans to tear up over a millionaire-in-training who owes back taxes to boot.

If John McCain somehow wins this election, and needs a White House plumber — a real plumber, mind you, not the Nixonian Watergate variety — he should think twice before he calls his “good buddy” Joe. In fact, he’d be better off engaging G. Gordon Liddy to fix the leaks in the Lincoln bathroom. A President McCain will almost certainly have a Democratic Congress to deal with, and there would be a doozy of an investigation. One hundred bucks an hour is real money, even inside the Beltway.

As for Joe the Plumber’s future, taxes aren’t going to be his biggest worry now that John McCain has transformed him into a national icon. Joe should be praying that his customers, current and prospective, are like a certain hockey mom [Sarah Palin, remember her?] who doesn’t pay attention to any of those doggone media filters — you know, like newspapers, magazines, radio, TV, books, the Web etc. — that are carrying the story about his expansive bottom line.