(no longer a plumber; first name actually Samuel) popped into our town yesterday evening to sell his new book and to remind people that he’s still a plain and simple guy. Mission accomplished, on at least one of his missions.
About 11 people wandered into the rows of seats set up hopefully in the basement of a downtown Border’s bookstore to hear Joe speak. Joe addressed them from behind a lectern and with a microphone, but that seemed unnecessarily formal. If you’ve already forgotten “Joe” Wurzelbacher, 35, of Toledo, Ohio, it just goes to show you how ephemeral the life of a plain-speaking, Republican Everyman is these days. Joe was the square-jawed guy briefly drafted by John McCain’s campaign to be its Voice of Regular Folks. Now, only a few months later, he’s kind of like a vestigial tail, a leftover artifact from a forgotten time. He’s Clara Peller, Willie Horton or Gennifer Flowers — names that are the questions in a “Jeopardy!” category called “Presidential Campaign Distractions.” To his credit, Wurzelbacher is hip to the audacity of hype: “I get e-mails all the time from people asking me when my 15 minutes is going to expire,” he grinned after his talk. “Sometimes they just write, ’15 . . . 14:59 . . . 14:58 . . .’ ” It’s fair to say Joe’s appearance at Borders at 18th and L streets wasn’t eagerly anticipated. People just kind of shuffled over when Joe strode in with Thomas N. Tabback, the co-author of “Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream.” Annie Hickman, a young woman whom Wurzelbacher called “sweetie” during a brief Q&A, was browsing when the PA announced that Joe was in the house. “I’m missing pottery class for this,” she said.
Wurzelbacher was scheduled to speak and sign books for three hours, but the Joe Show was over in 55 minutes. Total copies of “Joe the Plumber” sold: five.
Oh well, there’s always plumbing that needs attention somewhere.