Why Joe the Plumber is more articulate than John McCain

Ever wonder why a guy like Joe the plumber is more articulate on the issues than John McCain, a man who has been a United States senator for 22 years and who won his party’s nomination for president of the United States?

It was maddening to watch McCain in his last debate with Barack Obama. McCain was right on the issues but he couldn’t articulate them, at least not very well.

One was left with the impression that Obama is going to give 95 percent of us a tax break, while McCain wants to give tax breaks to corporations.

Why couldn’t McCain just tell us that corporations don’t pay taxes, they are passed along to us in the form of higher prices?

Why couldn’t McCain just tell us that, according to the Tax Foundation, the corporate income tax is the most harmful tax for economic growth. For the last 17 years, the other industrialized countries have been cutting their corporate rate while ours has remained the same. It is now 50 percent higher, on average, than other nations.

Bottom line for voters: Yes, Obama is going to be sending checks to one-third of American workers who pay no tax, but would you rather have a job or a welfare check?

One was left with the impression that McCain wants to take away your company-paid health insurance.

Why couldn’t McCain just tell us he wants to take the tax break from the company and give it to the individual so you will no longer be tied to a dead-end job but will be free to go where you want and make the best deals you can?

Why couldn’t McCain just tell us that Obama will put us on a path to socialized medicine where health care will be rationed as it is in all other countries that have “universal,” i.e. government-run health care?

McCain couldn’t do it because he never really learned the art of debate. If he did, it was so long ago, he has forgotten it. This is what happened to George H.W. Bush when he debated Bill Clinton in 1991. It is what happened to former Representative and HUD Secretary Jack Kemp in his debate with Al Gore in 1995. These three men simply trusted their years of experience. They trusted their instincts. That’s all well and good but debates are an art form and that art must be practiced. A concert pianist who had a ten-year layoff wouldn’t attempt to play Carnegie Hall again without a few weeks of practice. These men simply wouldn’t put in the time necessary to polish their debate skills.

The truth is Congress, and especially the Senate, is highly overrated. It is presented as the world’s greatest deliberative body. Nothing could be further from the truth. Senators don’t debate, they pontificate, often to an empty chamber. Most show up just in time for a vote.

What passes as debate in the Senate is a series of boring speeches written by staffers. Few senators have or want any input. Often, they have little or no understanding of some of the causes they champion or the stands they take. Their position on most issues is decided by their chiefs of staff. In most cases, the longer senators stay on the job, the less input they give.

Senators have more important matters to attend. They meet with influential or well-heeled constituents. They are wined and dinned by the powerful and famous. If they remain long enough, and most do, they have committees to chair. They attend fund raisers to insure their reelections. It’s a predictable cycle.

Thankfully, there are some dedicated senators who go to Washington for all the right reasons and remain true to their principles but they are few.

Obama is so new at this job that he is still in campaign mode. In fact, he has been debating unpopular issues for most of his adult life. When you are way to the left of Main Street, you have to carefully craft each statement to make it sound reasonable to the masses. Obama is a master at this.

McCain’s policies, for the most part, are the right policies but he needs an interpreter, in this case, Joe the plumber. Too bad Joe came along so late!

6 thoughts on “Why Joe the Plumber is more articulate than John McCain

  1. Jane,
    I wish you were writing some of McCain’s material. I agree entirely, he lacks the ability to articualte to the American public what it is he is trying so desperately to say.
    I truly believe he should have Sarah Palin take more of a positilon in his campaign, and I hope she is the Republican candidate in 2012, with or without a McCain win.


  2. Jane,

    I agree with you that one basically shouldn’t run for the presidency unless he or she can communicate well with the American people. George W. Bush is perhaps the worst communicator ever for a U.S. president, and this should have disqualified him at the outset from running. McCain, too, is lacking in communication skills and shouldn’t say “My friends” so much to the audience. The incredible thing, however, is that despite McCain being flawed as a candidate and despite the mainstream media and the surface flow of the world being so strongly in favor of Obama winning, that McCain still has a legitimate chance to win. Hopefully, McCain is the “Last of the Mohicans” of poor communicators running for the presidency.



  3. On the other hand, one who is adept and trained in debate tactics is probably a lawyer. This means that they have learned to debate for or against any issue without regard of its morality, legality or their personal values. The only basis for their argument is the power of getting votes and they will do or say anything to get elected.

    John McCain only knows how to debate for his values. Good.


  4. Being an effective communicator is an important skill for any executive whether it’s a private company CEO, the pastor of a church, the police or fire chief, the mayor, the governor, and yes the president of the United States. The major quality that is not emphasized enough is character. One friend of mine in a Toastmaster’s group gave a speech I never forgot called “The Language of Leadership.” He used Winston Churchill and Abe Lincoln (even though Stephen Douglas won the debates) as prime examples. The tragedy today is that today’s mainstream or what Rush Limbaugh calls the “Drive by” media overemphasizes a visual image that would be a challenge for Lincoln and Churchill to overcome.

    I will say this. FDR was not an effective president because of his programs against the Great Depression, but people will remember, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

    Ronald Reagan had a way of just being himself to the point where he was able to win favor and respect among liberals and commies that hated his guts.

    The best thing that John McCain did in his campaign was to select Sarah Palin as his VP. She has that knack for just being herself and rub shoulders with people while campaigning. I’m angry that McCain and the rest of the Weeniepublican handlers put Palin in a position that was contrived in front of contrived media people like Katie Couric and Charles Gibson. McCain and the Weeniepublicans were stupid enough to agree to debate in front of these talking heads instead of taking the challenge in front of several more town meeting where you really rub shoulders with people. Obama’s weakness is facing down a regular guy or person like “Joe the Plumber.” Sarah Palin is a regular woman who relates to regular people and not to cultural elitists who have a greater tendency to get irregular (as a regular guy like Rocky Balboa would say).


  5. Jane,
    I agree with what you said about McCain. That is why I did not watch the last two debates. It is just too frustrating sitting here seeing obama leaving himself wide open for a thunderous right cross and instead have to watch McCain lightly jab or duck and weave. Almost like he wants to throw the fight.

    Pesonally, besides not practicing as you said, I believe his other major problem is he doesn’t have any idea what his core beliefs are. In my book he is a weasel. He constantly wants to evaluate the situation and morph himself into whatever seems to suit the particulars. That is how he can be both one of the most liberal on some issues (campaign reform, etc) and conservative on others (cost cutting sometimes). He reminds me of that airline commercial where the guy comes up to get a ticket somewhere, she says $69. Then when he glances away, evil ticket agent side rotates around, and she wants fee, after fee after fee, that will be $149. That is how I see McCain – two sides and you never know which one you will get.

    Reagan knew what he was and always tried to stay true to conservatism. In the debate he was always shooting from his conservative gun. He didn’t have to waste time evaluating and deciding conservative, moderate, liberal which argument gives me the best angle.


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