You know what I think is the greatest thing to come out of this presidential campaign season? The fact that Joe Six-Pack and the hockey moms are finally getting the respect they deserve.

We can thank Sarah Palin for that as we can for so much recent amusement, you betcha.

In the vice presidential debate, Palin challenged hockey moms and Joe Six-Pack to keep Wall Street honest. And why not? It’s not like they are encumbered by special knowledge that would complicate the task.

Joe Six-Pack and I go way back. Heck, he and I are like brothers in hops. I suspect some of you elitists have the impression that good ol’ Joe doesn’t know a thing or two. Excuse me, but Joe probably knows as many as half a dozen things, all of them cranky and negative.

You see Joe Six-Pack is a man of fixed opinions. He does not like changing his mind because that could involve mental effort and be a distraction while screwing off the bottle caps. When he was in college, Joe majored in beer drinking, so was able to avoid the contagion of thinking, which can lead a young person to become a flip-flopper later in life.

Oftentimes I have seen him holding forth on his sofa or on a bar stool at the Lowest Common Denominator Club. Sometimes his cousins Joey Bagadoughnuts and the Man in the Street are there to hang on his wise words, which, well into the sixth bottle, become a little mangled, as you might expect.

Sadly, the Man in the Street is feeling a little put out because Joe Six-Pack got the nod as official representative of everyday guys in America. He’s thinking of putting on a wig and going to kids’ hockey games, just so people might mistake him for a mom and give him some respect. Of course, it’s all his fault. If you stand in the street all day, you are likely to get hit by a bus or two, and America does not like its role models flattened.

As for hockey moms, ain’t they great? I have known a few because my son used to play hockey. The hockey moms are not to be confused with the soccer moms.

The latter group tumbles out of their SUVs with all the kids and their treats, exuding niceness and positive team spirit. The soccer moms are more in line with the traditional view of American motherhood, the idealized Mom standing in an apron baking apple pie and radiating love. Hockey moms tend not to be so retiring and at the rinks they irradiate referees.

This is not to say that hockey moms don’t bake for their kids too — it’s just that they inject their treats with testosterone. They can be nice too, especially when ambulances come to pick up members of the other team. But generally they are famous for being a feisty type of mother.

Some hockey mothers may take exception with this characterization — calling it stereotypical — and spear me with a stick or charge me into the boards. But they ought to do the same for Palin, because she and I agree on this point. Hey, gotcha there! (Wink.) When Sarah Palin evokes the image of hockey moms, it is in service of muscular mothers who like pit bulls in lipstick can fight, fight, fight for America. She isn’t talking about the refined and well-behaved hockey moms who might bring a John Kerry into this world.

I remember eight years ago my son’s team played a game in Johnstown, Pa. at the War Memorial Arena, which has since been renovated but was then an antique rink of great character, a place where old jockstraps went to die. But when it comes to athletic supporters, none matched the hockey mom in attendance that night.

She was going for the coveted Harpy of the Year award. Here’s what I wrote in a column at the time: When her team got a penalty, she yelled the traditional: "That’s a bunch of bull. Can’t you see what they’re doin’? Ar ya blind, ref?" On another occasion, when another boy on her team got a penalty, she screamed: "What was that for?" To which I replied wittily, "Punching, eh?" — a true observation but, of course, foolishly provocative.

To which she replied wittily: "Well, he should have punched him harder!" At last Joe Six-Pack and the hockey moms are being recognized for making American exceptionalism exceptional in the dumbing down department. Hey, let’s put their political soul mates in charge of nuclear weapons. (Wink!)


(Reg Henry is a columnist for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. E-mail rhenry(at)

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