The Washington Post

GOP Rep. Walsh: Obama was elected because he is a `black man who was articulate’

Yesterday, GOP Rep. Joe Walsh raged at Jewish Americans for not being sufficiently pro-Israel. Many Jews simply refuse to buy conservative falsehoods about Obama’s stance on the 1967 lines, and the good Congressman finds this wholly unacceptable.

Today, Dave Weigel has published an interview with Walsh, in which he claims that Obama was only elected president because he is a “black man who was articulate”:

“Why was he elected? Again, it comes back to who he was. He was black, he was historic. And there’s nothing racist about this. It is what it is. If he had been a dynamic, white, state senator elected to Congress he wouldn’t have gotten in the game this fast. This is what made him different. That, combined with the fact that your profession” — another friendly tap of the bumper sticker —”not you, but your profession, was just absolutely compliant. They made up their minds early that they were in love with him. They were in love with him because they thought he was a good liberal guy and they were in love with him because he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that.”

Hmm. I’m so old that I can remember when a Democrat got in big trouble for saying rougly the same thing about Obama. Remember when Joe Biden said this during the 2008 campaign?

“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American, who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

Now, Biden got in trouble partly because people misread his comments at the time to mean that he was claiming that Obama was the first articulate African American to run for president. What Biden actually said was that Obama was the first mainstream African American contender for the presidency, and in addition to this he was “articulate,” and that this combination was the source of his appeal.

This is almost exactly what Walsh has now said. Even after clarifying his remarks, Biden found himself on the receiving end of a national controversy that raged for days. The accurate version of what he said was widely condemned as unacceptable, and Biden was forced to apologize. It’ll be interesting to see if there’s any comparable interest in Walsh’s remarks.

UPDATE: Obviously the comparison in not perfect: Biden was a well-respected, high-profile Senator and presidential candidate, while Walsh is an unknown. But even obscure members of Congress can suddenly fall under scrutiny when they commit a gaffe. My point was that the remark was considered out of bounds then, and it’ll be interesting to see if it is considered out of bounds now.

Greg Sargent writes The Plum Line blog, a reported opinion blog with a liberal slant -- what you might call “opinionated reporting” from the left.


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