Looking back at my headline on this post, I realize that for my readers to pick up on what the item is about, I should be a little more specific. After all, I sort of have an affinity for politicians named Joe.
There’s Joe Riley, of course. I’ve admired and respected him for a lot of years. Here’s a link to an item I assigned Clark Surratt to write about him back in 1991, as part of the year-long "Power Failure" series. I saw him as just the sort of guy I would hope to see elected governor, if we ever got around to giving the S.C. governor enough power to make the job worth having. I continue to be a major fan.
Then there’s Joe Lieberman, whom I had always liked, but who assumed Mythic Hero status for me last year when he stood up to all that is foul and intellectually offensive in our nation’s political party system, and prevailed.
Over time, I’ve also had a lot of good things to say about Joe Biden — the most qualified (if not most electable) candidate in the Democratic presidential field, and the only one with an actually credible plan as to what ought to happen next in Iraq.
All of which would seem to make the cliche phrase "good Joe" sort of redundant. But then I think harder, and realize not all Joes are perfect. But I don’t think anyone has done a scientific study in an effort to quantify Joe-ness — until now.
So it is that I present, completely off the top of my head, a brief hierarchy of political Joes, from best to worst:
- Joe Riley (gets extra points for being a South Carolinian)
- Joe Lieberman (whom South Carolina scorned, and who deserved better)
- Joe Biden (a really smart guy — just ask him; he’ll tell you. And tell you some more.)
- Joe Wilson (I don’t always agree with him, but I give him a boost for being quite possibly the most breathlessly enthusiastic guy in the U.S. House of Representatives. And besides, it didn’t seem fair that Democrats were running away with it, but that might be because Irish Catholics have a leg up on Joe-ness, Lieberman excepted)
- Joe Darby (the S.C. preacher is a reliable op-ed contributor, but our differences over the NAACP boycott bring him down to the middle of the pack)
- Joe Erwin (nice guy, thoughtful party leader, but he does business with some unsavory types)
- Joe Sixpack (the ultimate regular Joe, but a lot of really stupid stuff happens in efforts to pander to him; same problem with his cousins Joe Average and Joe Doakes)
- Joseph II, Holy Roman Emperor (spiffy wigs, but did he really tell Mozart, "too many notes — leaves some of them out?")
- Joe Kennedy (another Irish-Catholic Joe, but he didn’t stick up for the good guys early in the war, and had too much in common with the bad guys)
- Joe McCarthy ("Tail-gunner Joe" might have been Irish, but ultimately, "Have you no sense of decency, sir?")
- Joe Goebbels (history’s most foul spinmeister)
- Joe Stalin (Uncle Joe beats out Goebbels for worst because he didn’t just help kill millions, he was the guy in charge)
Truth be told, this wasn’t as scientific as it probably looks to the untrained eye. I just kept going until I had an even dozen, and then put them in order. If I left out any obvious Joes, let me know.