The Zen of Joe the Plumber

Friday, October 17, 2008

In the context of Campaign 2008, “Joe the Plumber”, the phenomenon, not the man, is an example of the wickedness of the Universe’s sense of humour, and how Zen’s face can be seen in the oddest places.


Take the whole episode of Joe the Plumber. I’m, honestly, dumbfounded that this situation has arisen. And I mean that in the best way. Joe the Plumber is the personification of the John Galt I refer to in my previous post. Not Ayn Rand’s superman, but the metaphoric one that I argue is part of each of us. Not two days goes by since I post my argument and then this happens. **Sound of chimes** Zen moment! (I looked back, my first post calling on John Galt was on Oct 8)


To me the heartening part was that it was absolutely random, truly the Universe was unfolding properly: a candidate was campaigning and misread a situation and glibly let slip a truth, thinking he was on friendly ground and was dealing with, if you’ll excuse the prairie-ism, “bo-hunks”, those unthinking unquestioning rank and file who will take a pat talking point as an answer without further questioning. Strike One.


Compounding his embarrassment, Obama, in his falsely-assumed friendly zone forgot that the media, despite being in the tank, will show a zinger if they get it. The deadwoods’ venality trumps its fealty to Obama. And what he doesn’t understand is the zeitgeist of this, the first Web 2.0 Presidential Election. [I have argued that McCain, on the other hand does get it, that “it” being the zeitgeist, of course, and has fashioned his strategy around it.] So, here he is, amongst the bo-hunks and this feisty rube dares question his rightness, and as if he where swatting away a pesky fly, he flippantly lets the truth out, that he believes that “we should spread the wealth around”. HA! In other words, from out of the wilderness you hear a lone voice. But in the wired age, that’s all that’s needed. Strike Two.


Because, today, almost everybody has a camera phone! Ooops. The Senator seems to have forgotten that. While that is troubling in and of itself, it is also beside the point.Or is it? One would hope he’d be a little more circumspect when dealing with the Nation’s secrets, for example.


The Obama campaign’s, including the deadwoods’, reaction has been outstanding proof of my earlier arguments. So, personally, it has been gratifying.*



*The Universe is winking at me, which I’m taking as its way of saying, “no hard feelings over our summer escapades, eh, mate?” A long and yet untold story, but it is where my theories of Zen were verified. As an atheist, I don’t believe in a god or gods or allah or whatever. I do, however, believe that we live in an intelligent universe, and that our soul or consciousness (that which makes me me and you you) represents a little bit of the Universe which, like all intelligences, tries to figure itself out. Thus, we’re all part of a much larger whole, but what makes us human is human nature. Etc. I also believe that, at times, the Universe intervenes. This is where the ideas of God come from, I think, off-handedly. This, I argue is where Zen lives. I also believe that the Universe is a bitch with an evil sense of humour, but that’s all part of that untold story.]



But it has also been a shocking demonstration of the depths to which the deadwoods have sunk (Strike Three), it is only now, fully three days after the story broke, that the media is even beginning to see the irony of their actions. Lou Dobbs asked tonight, “there are satellite trucks surrounding Joe the Plumber, and truth squads checking his background, why haven’t we seen a reporter on William Ayer’s doorstep?” Okay, that’s fine, Lou, but a better question is why haven’t we seen satellite trucks and swarms and vetters and truth-squaders doing their jobs, going through the garbage looking into the record of Barrack Obama? That’s the real question. I give you your props, though, Lou, because asking the real question, or more specifically, leading an honest investigation would lead to your head on a platter. So, good on ya. (no sarcasm intended)


The symbolism of Joe the Plumber and the army vet’s call to action—one vet to another, that I discuss in my strategy piece is undeniable and no doubt will be written about by future historians. The Zen of the whole thing is how it is exactly the kind of semiotic response that McCain would recognize as confirmation that his strategy is the right one. I’ve been saying for weeks that we’re in the midst of a gigantic Zen moment. McCain has realized this and has been influencing the zeigeistwhere he can.


There’s a Zen saying, “No snowflake lands in the wrong place.” To which I’ve added, “But nobody says you can’t provide the breeze.” McCain, it seems, is “being the breeze”.




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