Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Sarah Palin should subtly disavow Joe the Plumber

Apparently Joe the Plumber was on a radio show the other day trashing John McCain and praising Sarah Palin. I have no stake, but Sarah Palin needs to distance herself from the nonsense that is Joe the Plumber. I don't know Joe as a man, but the Joe-the-Plumber character he plays in the media is a dope. He symbolically represents stupidity and ignorance. Some politicians, like President Obama and Sen. McCain, have the legitimacy as people seen as smart to make overtures, if ever so subtly, with what Joe the Plumber represents. For President Obama and Sen. McCain, reaching out to him is an attempt to expand their range of supporters while spending replenishable political capital.

At the present moment, Sarah Palin has none of that smart-person legitimacy and does not have such political capital to spend. That could change, but right now, the Joe the Plumber crowd is Gov. Palin's base. Gov. Palin thus has a different task concerning JP's stupidity: she needs to dissociate herself from him a bit. His symbolic meaning is such a turn-off to all but a narrow range of Americans, that to expand her range of supporters means she cannot be seen as associated with him. To have any chance at the presidency in 2012 or 2016, Gov. Palin needs to separate herself from the character named Joe the Plumber. She needs to do so subtly, but unquestionably.

To win in the future, you must run to the center, Governor.

I'm in the minority here, but I think there are clear ways that you can do that.

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