Joe the Plumber vs. The WaPo’s Pamela Constable

Here is Ms. Constable writing on the “Demise of the Foreign Correspondent” in the Washington Post in 2007:

Today, Americans’ need to understand the struggles of distant peoples is greater than ever. Our troops are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries that we did not know enough about when we invaded them and that we are still trying to fathom. We have been victimized by foreign terrorists, yet we still cannot imagine why anyone would hate us. Our economy is intimately linked to global markets, our population is nearly 20 percent foreign-born, and our lives are directly affected by borderless scourges such as global warming and AIDS. Knowing about the world is not a luxury; it is an urgent necessity.

But instead of stepping up coverage of international affairs, American newspapers and television networks are steadily cutting back. The Globe, which stunned the journalism world last month by announcing that it would shut down its last three foreign bureaus, is the most recent example.

Between 2002 and 2006, the number of foreign-based newspaper correspondents shrank from 188 to 141 (excluding the Wall Street Journal, which publishes Asian and European editions). The Baltimore Sun, which had correspondents from Mexico to Beijing when I went to work there in 1978, now has none. Newsday, which once had half a dozen foreign bureaus, is about to shut down its last one, in Pakistan. Only four U.S. papers — the Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the New York Times and The Washington Post — still keep a stable of foreign correspondents.

And here’s what Joe the Plumber (PLUMBER!!!) proposes to do about all that in 2009:

Joe The Plumber is putting down his wrenches and picking up a reporter’s notebook.

The Ohio man who became a household name during the presidential campaign says he is heading to Israel as a war correspondent for the conservative Web site

Samuel J. Wurzelbacher (WUR’-zuhl-bah-kur) says he’ll spend 10 days covering the fighting.

He tells WNWO-TV in Toledo that he wants to let Israel’s “‘Average Joes’ share their story.”

Wurzelbacher gained attention during the final weeks of the campaign when he asked Barack Obama about his tax plan.

He later joined Republican John McCain on the campaign trail. At one stop, he agreed with a McCain supporter who asked if he believed a vote for Obama was a vote for the death of Israel.

Yes, I am a proud blogger.

But even I believe that the Cult of the Amateur can, and often does, go too far.