Depending on your age and your propensity to check your Twitter account, you may think of Joe Walsh as the guitarist for the Eagles.
I certainly wish I did. Instead, due to the fact that I’m a Twitter user, I know him as the former congressman-turned-pundit who spends his days fulminating on social media about a president he once supported. I’m assuming he does that on his radio show but, well, that would require me to listen to it.
He takes all of this deadly seriously, as if he’s Trump’s biggest nightmare, when he hasn’t served in elected office in nearly seven years and most of America hasn’t heard of him.
I say all of this as a friendly word to my NeverTrumper friends: This is not the savior that you’re looking for.
Walsh certainly doesn’t think so; the former Illinois representative, who came in with the Tea Party class of 2010, served one term. His district was redrawn and he lost in his re-election attempt. Since then, he’s been a radio host with varying degrees of success and several controversies behind him — controversies that may hurt his credibility here, as we’ll discuss in a bit.
In short, former Massachusetts Gov. William Weld’s candidacy suddenly doesn’t look ridiculous. However, Walsh announced his own run for the Republican nomination on Sunday’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” where he discussed why he, a former Trump supporter, now wants to take Trump down.
Friends, I’m in. We can’t take four more years of Donald Trump. And that’s why I’m running for President.
It won’t be easy, but bravery is never easy. But together, we can do it. Join me… join us: go to https://t.co/d40HA9h2Kz.
Let’s show the world we’re ready to be brave.
— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) August 25, 2019
“We’ve got a guy in the White House who’s unfit. Completely unfit to be president,” Walsh told Stephanopoulos.
“And it stuns me that nobody stepped up, nobody in the Republican Party stepped up. Because I’ll tell you what, George, everybody believes — in the Republican Party, everybody believes that he’s unfit. He lies every time he opens his mouth.
“I’m running because he’s unfit,” he continued. “Somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum. He’s a child.”
Stephanopoulos noted that Weld — a former governor of Massachusetts back in the 1990s — had tweeted that the 25th Amendment ought to be invoked against Trump and asked if Walsh believed this should be the case. Walsh said “it should be looked at.”
“I’m running because he’s unfit, somebody needs to step up and there needs to be an alternative. The country is sick of this guy’s tantrum, he’s a child,” Joe Walsh tells @GStephanopoulos when asked about GOP support for Trump https://t.co/bLWbG7aCAU pic.twitter.com/KeFCo7sJmL
— This Week (@ThisWeekABC) August 25, 2019
“George, we’ve never had a situation like this. You can’t believe a word he says,” Walsh said.
“And again, I don’t care [about] your politics, that should concern you. He’s nuts. He’s erratic. He’s cruel. He stokes bigotry. He’s incompetent. He doesn’t know what he’s doing.”
So, speaking of stoking bigotry, Stephanopoulos pointed out some of Walsh’s history: “You called President Obama a Muslim, an enemy, a traitor. And you often spoke out on racial themes,” he said.
Among them, a 2017 tweet that “we lowered the bar for Obama. He was held to a lower standard because he was black” and another tweet just a few months later that, “Senator Kamala Harris said something really dumb. Meh. If you’re black and a woman, you can say dumb things. Lowered bar.”
“I helped create Trump. And, George, that’s not an easy thing to say,” Walsh said on the issue of whether he was the best messenger to excoriate Trump for “stoking bigotry.”
He added that “the beauty of what President Trump has done is, George, he’s made me reflect on some of the things I have said in the past. I had strong policy disagreements with Barack Obama and too often I let those policy disagreements get personal.”
Does Walsh really believe that former President Obama was a Muslim? “God no. And I have apologized for that,” Walsh said. “And that’s not an easy thing to do, not at all.
“But think about the contrast, George. Again, I’m baring my soul with you right now on national TV. We have a guy in the White House who’s never apologized for anything he’s done or said. I think it’s a weakness not to apologize. I have — I helped — I helped create Trump. There’s no doubt about that, the personal, ugly politics. I regret that. And I’m sorry for that.”
Again, here’s a guy who’s sorry about it now that he’s the first guest on ABC’s “This Week.” I’m not exactly sure who was aware of this guy before he ran, nor am I sure who’s even aware of him now.
I have no doubt that Walsh’s criticisms of Trump come from a place of personal conviction, however misplaced you or I might believe that conviction to be. I’m also quite sure of the fact that he’s used that personal conviction to his extreme advantage.
As for whether or not he’ll have any real impact on the race, it’s difficult to tell but you can probably guess the answer.
The last poll taken about the Republican primary race, such as it is, was back in May. Then, Trump had an 86 percent to 14 percent lead over Weld. My guess is that Walsh won’t be chipping away at Trump’s slight 72-point lead so much as he will be cannibalizing from Weld’s 14-point total.
But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe Walsh is the Eugene McCarthy who ends up being a giant-killer in the primaries. Maybe he puts those two years of public service to good use. Maybe he manages to make a dent in Trump’s totals even though there are obviously going to be no debates.
Here’s a question for you, though: This is a guy who said he “helped create Trump.” What percentage of Americans do you think even knew he existed before this weekend?
And how many do you think know who he is now — or could tell him apart from the Eagles’ guitarist?
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