Joe Walsh, the former Illinois congressman turned radio talk show host, said some pretty outrageous things in his day. But unlike those who have admitted no wrong and have drunk the Trump Kool-Aid, Walsh has apologized. “On more than one occasion, I questioned [President Barack] Obama’s truthfulness about his religion,” he wrote in a New York Times op-ed. “At times, I expressed hate for my political opponents. We now see where this can lead. There’s no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them.”
Walsh said he voted for Donald Trump for president reluctantly, because he believed Hillary Clinton would be worse (a judgment I think was obviously wrong, but at least not based on any love for Trump’s nuttery). He takes great umbrage at Trump’s fiscal sloth and worse, “I soon realized that I couldn’t support him because of the danger he poses to the country, especially the division he sows at every chance, culminating a few weeks ago in his ugly, racist attack on four minority congresswomen.” He calls Trump a “racial arsonist who encourages bigotry and xenophobia” and slams him for siding “with Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence community.” He flatly calls Trump un-American. And now he’s getting ready to run against Trump for president.
To be clear, he has virtually zero chance to beat Trump in a primary of a party as deluded and morally vacuous as the GOP. He is also exactly the right guy for the job.
He understands the lingo of the right, has the communication skills honed in talk radio and has nothing to lose. He’s just the guy to say that a man who calls himself “the Chosen One” should be directed to therapy, not a second term. Walsh can say on a daily basis what we know: Trump really has no idea what he is saying much of the time, uses content-less remarks to fill time and cannot hold a position for more than 24 hours. Walsh is a live wire, one who will thrive on cable TV — where he should appear daily.
All of this serves several purposes. First, it may well begin to aggravate and then provoke the narcissist in chief, causing even more outlandish tantrums. Second, it will gnaw at the conscience of those on the right who have used Trump to get what they want (e.g. judges) but know they have made a Faustian bargain. They might not vote for a Democrat in the general election, but they could vote for a third-party candidate or just stay home. Third, it will sharpen the media coverage and the debates. Given the pattern that media folk fall into — “X says Y about you. How do you respond?” or “X says Y about Trump. Do you agree?” — Trump’s lunacy will now belatedly and rightly become a critical issue in the campaign. Fourth, if Walsh is really daring, he will start needling the Republicans in Congress to do something: inch away from endorsements, start talking about impeachment or at least condemn Trump now and then.
After all, Walsh’s message is the “Emperor has no clothes — and worse, he’s a crackpot.” The corollary to that is “Why are the Republicans playing along when the country is at risk?”