Friday, October 17, 2008

"Joe the Plumber" to Become a Trademark?

In an effort to try to locate "Joe the Plumber" in the Toledo, OH area in order to do an interview, I spent some time visiting with some of the people from the Toledo Regional Chamber of Commerce. They had no idea on how to reach Joe Wurzelbacher, but did tell me that the aspiring plumber (he isn't one yet, but works for one and intends to be one some day) did contact the Chamber through his father. The reason for the call? He wanted to know how to trademark the name, "Joe the Plumber." It appears that Joe is trying to make his fifteen minutes of fame last several hours.

Joe will face challenges, of course. There are numerous companies that describe themselves as "Joe the Plumber." Just check it out in a Google search.

Other observations about Joe the Plumber:

* His presence reminds me of the impact Sarah Palin had on the McCain campaign. Those "every day values" so absent from politicians today. You would think one of these campaigns would continuously surround themselves with such people, let them speak to the media about the issues of the day, and get away from the slick individuals who drive politics.

* Typical of Obama and his colleagues, they are now attacking Joe in the media. "He doesn't make $250,000 a year" we are told, "he had an ugly divorce" (and liberal bloggers are writing about it online), and "he has a tax lien against him" (which may prove his point that taxes are too high). This type of ugly attack is going to be perceived by millions of Americans as an attack on them. It is very elitist, which has killed many Democrats' campaigns before. Interestingly, as they attack Joe, McCain's numbers are going up nation wide to where he is well within the margin of error nationwide at this time.

* Joe reminds those who are not in the "top five percent" why they should worry about redistribution. Joe doesn't make $250,000, but wanted to know how it impacted people like that. Obama's supporters scoff as if he had no business asking the question. But Joe is like most Americans who aspire to make more some day. He wants to be in a higher income bracket and not pay those who haven't achieved such. The politics of envy has its limits. Obama has yet to learn that.

* Obama should learn a lesson from both Joe and George McGovern. Joe showed the sentiment of million of Americans. George McGovern learned the same thing the hard way. In the early part of 1972 McGovern was doing very well in his race against Richard Nixon, until he placed on his platform the redistribution of $1,000 to individuals who made less than $5,000 a year. That described a majority of Americans at the time. But the vast majority of them believed they would make more than that some day. It sunk McGovern in the polls.

The big question for McCain is will Joe have "staying power"? McCain needs to surround himself with average Joes and Janes who want to harness the American Dream and are suspicious of politicians who "want to take care of them." After all, they are a better reflection of a majority of Americans than the elitist that tend to surround most political campaigns.

Kevin Price articles frequently appear at ChicagoSunTimes.com, Reuters.com, USAToday.com, and other national media.

Kevin Price is Host of the
Price of Business (M-F at 11 AM on CNN 650) and Publisher of the Houston Business Review. Hear the show live and online at PriceofBusiness.com. Visit the archive of past shows here.

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