Much was made about Obama's conversation with Joe the Plumber during last night's debate. McCain's constant references to this man, came off as a somewhat disingenuous ploy to assert his connection to "Joe Six-Pack American."
When you watch the clip, I don't really see how the McCain campaign thought that this ---constantly invoking the name of Joe the Plumber---would have been a good tactic in undermining the feasibility of Obama's tax plan. What you see here instead is a civilized and engaged discourse between the candidate and a voter who has a legitimate concern. I think Obama did a really good job at explaining how his tax plan would affect small business owners and his rationale behind it.
Obama is great at establishing common ground ("I may not get your vote, but I'm still going to be working hard on your behalf, because small businesses are what create jobs in this country, and I want to encourage it") and treating others with respect. Obama didn't talk down to Joe; he didn't condescend by offering him empty platitudes. Instead, he addressed Joe's concerns logically, intelligently, and specifically.
I guess we won't know how Joe will vote on Election Day, but my guess is that he walked away from his five-minute conversation with Obama better informed about his policies.
UPDATE, 3:10 p.m.: Isn't this interesting? (Props to Maryam for the link.)
UPDATE, 11/2, 10:44 A.M.: Since his debut (and subsequent invokings by John McCain on the regular), Joe the Plumber is hired a PR team, is trying to get a book deal, holds news conferences, and is considering running for Congress.
Are Samuel Wurzelbacher's 15 minutes of fame over yet?