The Washington Post

Rep. Joe Walsh gets the boot

Nothing gives me greater pleasure than to herald the defeat of Rep. Joe Walsh. The strident Illinois Republican was among the most vocal members of the raucous tea party caucus swept into Congress in 2010. But the voters of 8th congressional district put an end to the madness by replacing him with Tammy Duckworth (D).

Duckworth is a 20-year veteran of the military. She rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel. She earned a Purple Heart, an Air Medal and an Army Commendation Medal after losing both of her legs in 2004, when her helicopter was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq. And how did Walsh honor that service during their nasty campaign? In despicable fashion, of course.

While complimenting the reticence of Sen. John McCain to talk about his military service, particularly his prisoner-of-war years in Vietnam, Walsh slammed Duckworth. “Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about,” Walsh said. “Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.”

That was hardly the first time Walsh said something intemperate or said it in an unhinged manner. A year ago this week, he yelled in the face of a female constituent during a town-hall meeting. He made a big deal of boycotting President Obama’s joint session speech on jobs in September 2011 because he said it was “political theater” and that the president was “abusing his position” by delivering such an address.

Walsh put himself on the map during the debt-ceiling mess by releasing a video calling on Obama to “quit lying” about the perils of defaulting on the nation’s financial obligations for the first time in U.S. history. This fella was screaming at the president of the United States about fiscal responsibility while he stood accused of being a deadbeat dad by his ex-wife. The matter has since been settled, but that didn’t stop Duckworth from using that damning information in an ad against Walsh.

The Walsh campaign released a statement from the candidate’s son asking Duckworth to shelve the ad. That was one command she had no problem ignoring. Good for her.

Walsh was ill-suited for Congress. Through bluster and bombast, he debased the national discourse. And, as a result, his constituents were ill-served. In between yelling at people, the tea party warrior introduced a bill that sought to put term limits on members of Congress via an amendment to the Constitution. Yesterday, the system worked the way it was supposed to. The people of Illinois’ 8th congressional voted Walsh out.

Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.


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