Opinion: Joe Walsh, Simpleton or Great Communicator?

Rep. Joe Walsh, Tea Party-Ill., has been named the most simple-minded member of the Illinois congressional delegation, according to a survey that ranks the grade level of each politician’s speech patterns.

Walsh speaks on an 8.9 grade level, making him the 14th simplest member of Congress overall.

This survey should not be confused with an intelligence test. Rather, this says two important things about Walsh. Number one, his political philosophy is not very nuanced. It pretty much boils down to “government spending bad.”

When your ideas are simple, you only need simple words to express them. Number two, Walsh isn’t trying to impress his fellow politicians with his eloquence. He’s talking to people on TV. The average adult in the United States reads at between an 8th and 9th grade level.

Walsh is an effective communicator -- and a sought-after talk show guest -- because his language is easily understood by “Mr. and Mrs. America and all the ships at sea,” as Walter Winchell, another great communicator, once put it.

Walsh’s chief of staff, Justin Roth, made that point in a statement on the study.

“This is the same study that says Martin Luther King’s ‘I have a dream‘ speech was at a ninth grade level, so it is hard to take it too seriously,” Roth said. “The congressman is less concerned where this made up analysis ranks him, and is more concerned about speaking to his actual constituents, which is why he has more town halls than any Member from Illinois, and will continue to do so every week.”

The Illinois congressman with the highest ranking is Rep. Danny Davis, D-Chicago, who is in love with his own Biblical voice. In the entire Congress, the member with the most complex language is Rep. Dan Lungren, R-Calif., who speaks on a post-graduate level.

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