Joe, the Plumber

Written by Father Bill 4 Comments

To judge by the mainstream media attention given to Joe the Plumber, you’d think the photo on the left represents the media’s opinion of Joe’s work.  If only Obama had been vetted even a tenth as much as Joe!

Tony Esolen has noted the way Joe pairs up with those who demand he explain himself to America.  Referring to one encounter between Joe and a TV interviewer that is circulating on the internet these days, Esolen comments:

What fascinates me about the interview was that it seemed we were watching creatures from two utterly different universes, or from two different epochs.  The anchoress — I’m not sure who it was; I don’t watch them — was all smiles, all makeup, with her expensive coif and her neat business suit.  Then you have Joe, nearly bald, stocky, wearing an ordinary sweat shirt and jacket, hardly smiling at all; it was as if he thought that the election hinged upon matters that transcended the moment, and that were certainly more important than his own brief burst of notoriety.

I don’t think Esolen’s point in this particular blog is to expound the gender perspectives, though I’d expect those to pop up in future blogs on Joe the Plumber.  Esolen promises to write something each day for a week (if I understand him aright) on this interview.  Stay tuned here for updates.


  1. Michael McMillan   |  Tuesday, 21 October 2008 at 9:36 pm

    I can’t believe Joe forgot the partition between those fixtures! He won’t make over $200,000 doing that.

    “The anchoress…”

    I’m still on the lookout for a plumberess. I wonder how many of those there are? This seems like a long overdue crawl space to be broken through by women.

  2. Laurie   |  Monday, 01 December 2008 at 7:55 am

    I had to read the Esolen comment about 3 times before I had any notion (a) why an anchoress would be talking with Joe the Plumber, and (b) why an anchoress would be wearing a business suit. Then I realized, the term was meant to refer to a female news anchor, rather than a female religious hermit, and all became clear!

  3. Laurie   |  Monday, 01 December 2008 at 7:59 am

    In some quarters, female plumbers are more popular than male plumbers because women are more comfortable allowing an unwoman into the home than an unknown man. Some wags have been known to refer to female plumbers as plumb-hers, which I think is kind of cute.

  4. Fr. Bill   |  Monday, 01 December 2008 at 9:13 am

    Hi, Laurie,

    The confusion is quite credible. The quote from Esolen begins with this:

    What fascinates me about the interview was that it seemed we were watching creatures from two utterly different universes, or from two different epochs.

    Certainly that statement is true if “anchoress” refers to the female religious hermit. And so when “anchoress” appears in the following text, it’s natural to hear it referring to the female religious hermit.

    Esolen’s use of the term “anchoress” was, I suspect, an elbow to the ribs of the contemporary PC lexicon, which obsessively scours sex-marked terms (e.g. waitress, actress, sculptress, goddess) from acceptable English.

    Twenty years ago, I was employed to do legal research for an attorney, to turn up the legal background on issues for which he was presenting (or answering) an appeal before an appellate court. One case I began working on involved employees of an airline who were charged with various lapses of duty.

    I began using search terms such as “flight attendant” and got no hits at all earlier than the late 1970s or early 1980s. This mystified me, for litigation against airlines involving their on-board employees has been going on for as long as there have been passenger airplanes. I tried all sorts of alternative search terms, and finally got a hit that happened to contain the term ‘stewardess.’

    Viola! I put that term in the search list and suddenly got scores of hits on litigation running back into the 1930s. About the time feminism achieved its cultural victory in the legal profession (i.e. the 1970s), the legal literature had dropped the term stewardess from its lexicon.

Leave a Reply