Gordon the Plumber
Reporters, pundits, bloggers and various hangers-on, myself included, have been living, breathing and dissecting the presidential campaign for almost two years.
So why did it take David Letterman to bring clarity to an issue that has eluded everyone -- including the Barack Obama brain trust?
My friends, as John McCain would say, in the annals of guilt by association we have Obama and Bill Ayers, a one-time Weather Underground member but now, in McCain's own words, "a washed-up terrorist."
Ayers did what Obama has called his "despicable"deed when the candidate was eight years old, although they served on a committee together -- and share connections to Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley. Ayers contributed $200 to one of Obama's Illinois Senate campaigns, although Obama says he launched his state Senate campaign in a hotel and not Ayers' living room as McCain charges.
Now let's compare that with McCain's association with G. Gordon Liddy, a Watergate "plumber" who help mastermind the break-in of Democratic national party headquarters in the service of Richard Nixon and who served a prison term for his role in what Nixon spokesman Ron Ziegler termed a "third rate burglary."
McCain says Liddy served his time and he is happy to acknowledge his relationship. Heck, he may have even "palled around" with Liddy. He certainly accepted campaign contributions from him.
So, with all due respect to Dave, why did it take his team to uncover something so basic that anyone in the political press corps or the Obama campaign could have found it with a few Google searches?
If we're talking guilt by association, McCain no doubt has as many skeletons in his closet as the younger, "less experienced" Obama. What else is there?
In the end, McCain's relationship to Gordon the Plumber is no more important than the one he may or may not have with Joe the Plumber. Or Obama's relationship with Ayers.
Both campaigns should be run on issues of importance to the nation -- like how many people will suffer because of the lack of oversight of Wall Street, and for that matter, the issues that led to the war in Iraq. Neither should get bogged down in the detritus of fear and smear.
But if symbols and red herrings are what it's all about, let's remember Gordon the Plumber.