Members of Congress will do anything for attention. Usually it’s to push a piece of legislation or a pet issue. And then there’s Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), the Lindsay Lohan/Kim Kardashian/Paris Hilton of Capitol Hill. Like those Hollywood train wrecks, Walsh is known more for his antics than his actual possession of talent or legislative accomplishment. Walsh’s latest plea for attention is his boycott of tonight’s joint session of Congress.
Walsh announced his intentions via Twitter last week and has made the rounds of television shows ever since. On MSNBC’s “Martin Bashir” last week, Walsh accused President Obama of “abusing his position” by calling a joint session of Congress. Saying there is “no reason” for the address, Walsh called it “political theater.” He was back at it today with MSNBC’s Chris Jansing. While the president is preparing to lay out a plan he hopes will get spark job creation and will require congressional approval, Walsh told Jansing that the small-business forum he’s hosting tonight is about listening. An ability he has exercised sparingly, it would seem.
Walsh thrust himself on America with a youtube video in July demanding that Obama “quit lying” about some of the consequences of not raising the debt ceiling. Suddenly, he was everywhere. But with media ubiquity comes increased scrutiny. That’s how we found out that Walsh is a deadbeat dad whose ex-wife has been suing him for the last nine years to get more than $117,000 in child support. That’s how we know that Walsh is trying to have her sanctioned in court and pay his legal bills.
Meanwhile, the first-term congressman who slams the president for waiting three years to present a jobs plan doesn’t have one of his own. Oh, wait, he announced his participation in a Web-based something or other where “innovators across the district can describe how government affects their business, explaining where they think Washington helps, and where it hurts.” Walsh then promises to “look at these firsthand experiences to help strengthen rules that work and eliminate regulations that don’t.” I didn’t know a freshman could wield so much power.
Anyway, two weeks before he called the president a liar, Walsh introduced legislation calling for a constitutional amendment limiting the terms of members of Congress. “It’s time to bring in new Members with fresh ideas, ready and eager to serve,” he wrote in explaining his effort to change the way Washington does business. Walsh’s constituents could do that of their own free will in 2012.