Opinion: Joe Walsh Is the Most Famous Freshman Ever - NBC Chicago
Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Opinion: Joe Walsh Is the Most Famous Freshman Ever



    Whatever you think of Rep. Joe Walsh’s Tea Party views on immigration, Obamacare and government spending, you’ve got to give him this: no freshman congressman has ever become so famous, so fast.

    There have been more famous freshman, but they brought their fame with them to Congress. The late Rep. Sonny Bono comes to mind. But consider that two years ago, Walsh was a no-chance candidate who couldn’t get a dollar from the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee. Since joining the House in January 2011, Walsh has appeared on:

        -- Fox and Friends (Fox News)
        -- Face the Nation (CBS)
        -- This Week (ABC)
        -- Martin Bashir (MSNBC)
        -- Chicago Tonight (WTTW)
        -- Chris Matthews (MSNBC)
        -- The Last Word with Lawrence O’Donnell (MSNBC)
        -- The O’Reilly Factor (Fox News)
        -- In The Arena (CNN)
        -- Lou Dobbs Tonight (Fox News)

    Walsh’s infamy may have hit its peak on Tuesday. The world saw a tape of the congressman suggesting opponent Tammy Duckworth, a wounded veteran, is not a “true hero” because she brags about her military record. Salon.com’s Joan Walsh called Walsh “America’s Most Offensive Congressman” -- quite a title for a first-termer. Walsh’s remarks were reported in the New York Daily News, Politico, the Washington Post, the Huffington Post and USA Today.

    In the Illinois congressional delegation, his only rivals for notoriety are Jesse Jackson Jr., who derived fame from his father, and Aaron Schock, who derived fame from his abdominal muscles and his resemblance to Neil Patrick Harris.

    Walsh is famous for the same reason Howard Stern is famous: he’s a shock politician, willing to retail any provocative statement that pops into his mind. He’s not politically correct. He’s not even political. Unfortunately for Walsh, the obnoxiousness that makes him so attractive to cable TV is turning off voters in the 8th Congressional District. He’s already at a disadvantage there, because the district was not just drawn for a Democrat, it was drawn for the Democrat he’s running against.

    A year from now, Walsh will be just as entertaining and opinionated, but there aren’t a lot of ex-one term congressmen on cable news.

    Buy this book! Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland's book, Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President , is available Amazon. Young Mr. Obama includes reporting on President Obama's earliest days in the Windy City, covering how a presumptuous young man transformed himself into presidential material. Buy it now!