Ward Room
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Opinion: Joe Walsh, We Knew Ye Too Well

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    NEWSLETTERS

    I was asked to write a eulogy for Rep. Joe Walsh’s single term in Congress, entitled “Joe Walsh, We Hardly Knew Ye.” But I had a better idea. This eulogy is titled “Joe Walsh, We Knew Ye Too Well.”

    In less than two years in Washington, Walsh has come to represent everything that is wrong with Congress, and with American politics in general. He’s been obstinate, obstructive, uncompromising, disrespectful, ideologically extreme, racist, creedist, national originist, homophobic, Islamophobic, gynophobic, and has displayed a complete lack of understanding regarding the workings of the female reproductive system. Walsh was an embarrassment not just to the Republican Party, not just to the Tea Party, but to entire right wing of the American political spectrum. Unable to get along even with others who shared his views, he occupied a remote ideological island where not even the John Birch Society would have planted its flag.
    Just six months into his term, Walsh called President Obama a liar for insisting that not raising the debt ceiling would have serious consequences for the American economy. Then he stabbed his own caucus’s leader in the back by refusing to vote for a debt ceiling deal negotiated by Obama and House Speaker John Boehner. Walsh further displayed his disrespect for the president by boycotting his September 2011 jobs speech, instead hosting a small business forum in his district.
    “I don’t see the point of being a prop for another of the president’s speeches asking for more failed stimulus spending and more subsidies for his pet projects,” he said.
    Walsh’s worldview was that he was the only honest man, and that anyone who questioned or opposed was an impediment to his quest for truth and purity. This extended not only to his political opponents, but to those in his personal life. When Walsh’s ex-wife sued him for $117,000 in back child support, he wrote a letter to the judge -- on congressional letterhead -- calling her a liar, too.
    Mr. Walsh did in fact pay his share of the education costs for all of his Children to attend Catholic school; despite the claim that Laura Walsh claims she incurred all of the costs.
    By blatantly and knowingly submitting false information in her pleading Laura Walsh and her attorney’s not only broke Illinois state law, but it is clear that the only point in submitting these allegations was an attempt to tarnish the Congressman’s reputation. 
    After Walsh’s district was redrawn to ensure it elected a sane congressman, he considered running in the 14th District Republican primary, against Rep. Randy Hultgren, but eventually decided to defend his 8th District seat. During that campaign, he tarnished his reputation more than a bitter ex-wife ever could have. First, he said that his opponent, double-amputee Iraq War veteran Tammy Duckworth, was not a “true hero” because she bragged about her military service. Then, he mocked her for picking out a dress for her Democratic National Convention speech while he was marching in suburban parades. Finally, he insisted abortion to save the life of a mother is unnecessary, because women no longer die in childbirth. Walsh not only tarnished himself, he tarnished the entire Illinois Republican Party. Opponents of Judy Biggert and Bob Dold, two moderate, responsible members of Congress, ran ads linking them to Walsh. Both lost.
    On Election Day, Duckworth defeated Walsh, 120,774-99,922. We won’t have Joe Walsh to kick around anymore. I don’t know what’s next for him. Perhaps he’ll retreat to a survivalist camp in the Shawnee National Forest, and start a podcast to share his ravings on runaway federal spending and lethal cells of radical Muslims living in the suburbs. Whatever he does, five years from now, when you hear the name Joe Walsh, you’ll think, “That guy rocked on ‘Hotel California.’”  
     

     

    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.