August 29, 2019

Joe Walsh Enters GOP Race

Editor's note: We couldn’t be more proud of one of our teammates, Isaac Rose-Berman, who penned his first op-ed this week in USA Today: “How college students can bridge American divides: 'Study abroad' in Alabama or New York.” Please give it a read, and share far and wide!

“Joe Walsh, a former Illinois congressman and tea party favorite turned radio talk show host, announced a challenge Sunday to President Donald Trump for the Republican nomination in 2020, saying the incumbent is unfit for office and must be denied a second term.” AP News

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From the Left

The left acknowledges Joe Walsh’s flaws but supports his candidacy in the hopes that it will weaken Trump.

“Trump’s stranglehold on the GOP is such that no challenger has a chance in the primaries. Still, it’s vitally important that party faithful be reminded of what they once claimed to care about. Not only do we encourage primary challenges, we urge any conservative spoiling for a fight to press a third-party candidacy in the general election. Given increasingly aberrant behavior in this president, right-of-center voters unable to pull the lever for a Democrat should have a third choice. Run, challengers, run.”
Editorial Board, New York Daily News

“Sane Republicans (who think they might yet have a future in politics) are too afraid to take such a risk. Ben Sasse isn’t going to do this. Nikki Haley isn’t going to do this. Maryland Governor Larry Hogan isn’t going to do this. Every Never Trumper is, by now, presumed to understand this. When having something to lose is a disqualifier, that leaves only the quixotic and the has-beens… One of the many problems with Trump is that he presents a sort of Catch-22: An adversary can be a responsible adult (and let Trump roll over you), or can try to emulate Trump’s worst qualities (and then, Trumpism wins). Of course, few people—even if they try—have the ability to effectively wrestle with Trump in the muck…

“Whether it involves tangling in a debate, or (more likely) trolling on Twitter, Joe Walsh, for all his baggage (maybe because of his baggage?), might be temperamentally better suited to this type of battle. So, yes, there is a certain irony involved in having someone with a sketchy reputation emerge as our would-be savior—but that’s because only a certain type of personality is crazy enough to volunteer for a suicide mission.”
Matt Lewis, The Daily Beast

“Do Democrats want to share a ‘bed’ with people who have supported President Donald Trump until recently? The answer should be a resounding yes… Trump supporters probably will never listen to Democrats, but these former Trump super fans might be effective at reaching those on the right who have grown increasingly uncomfortable with Trump…

“Walsh, a radio show host since losing reelection in 2012 and a frequent guest on cable news, could be effective in reaching rank-and-file Republicans, since he speaks their language. For example, Walsh was a Tea Party Republican when the Tea Party was known for championing lower federal budget deficits. In contrast, under Trump, the deficit is exploding… The 2020 election likely will be a nail biter. In other words, if [criticism from] Scaramucci and Walsh can help peel off even a small percentage of votes from Trump, that might be just enough to defeat him. And that's something Democrats should be supporting -- even if they don't fully share their ‘beds’ with these men.”
Dean Obeidallah, CNN

“But as [George] Stephanopoulos pointed out to Walsh, he may not be the best person to make [the] moral argument considering his history of making controversial, and even racist, comments… Walsh told host George Stephanopoulos [that] ‘I went beyond the policy and the idea differences and I got personal and I got hateful. I said some ugly things about President Obama that I regret.’ That is, of course, putting it mildly considering Walsh didn’t just question Obama’s birth certificate, he also said he was secretly a Muslim and also seemed to call for violence when he said he’d be grabbing his ‘musket’ if Trump lost the election against Hillary Clinton. And those are just a few examples. There are many more.”
Daniel Politi, Slate

It’s not exactly clear which Republican constituency would find Walsh appealing: Republican voters turned off by Trump’s own conspiracy theorizing and racism are unlikely to support another Republican prone to the same, his current disavowals of such behavior notwithstanding, and Republican voters who don’t find Trump’s invective unappealing will simply vote for him again.”
Jane Coaston and Sean Collins, Vox

Regarding Pelosi, “[her] talents have always lain in the less glamorous, less public side of politics: she is good at whipping up votes in her caucus and she is good at disciplining dissenters. She is good at offering incentives and punishments to get Democratic members of Congress to do what she wants them to do… To rip up the speech on television was a bit of theatricality, sure – a ploy designed to get attention. It also worked. The day after Trump made a long speech full of misinformation that tried to make a case for his re-election, no one is talking about him. Instead we are talking about the speaker of the House. That, too, is a skill, one that Pelosi seems to be honing.”
Moira Donegan, The Guardian

Others argue that “Biden was almost the only one on the stage who talked like a normal person. There was a point near the end of the debate when he was talking about getting men involved in stopping domestic violence and he said that we need to keep ‘punching’ at it… I knew that the twitterati and the analysts would tut tut. Ol’ Joe is just out of touch! He doesn’t know you can’t use words like that. Meanwhile, every non-political junkie watching the debate thought there was nothing wrong with this. Biden was just using ordinary language, not worrying too much if it was fully approved by the woke brigade.”
Kevin Drum, Mother Jones

From the Right

The right is critical of Joe Walsh and accuses anti-Trump pundits encouraging his candidacy of hypocrisy.

From the Right

The right is critical of Joe Walsh and accuses anti-Trump pundits encouraging his candidacy of hypocrisy.

These are the potential options for Trump-weary conservatives: a pro-choice former governor who last served in government in 1997 and who was a registered Libertarian three years ago; a former congressman with his own history of scandal and odd behavior who alienated enough GOP constituents to lose his primary; and another former one-term congressman who is denouncing the sort of incendiary rhetoric he himself was using a few years ago.”
Jim Geraghty, National Review

Walsh has endorsed birtherism, alleged that former president Barack Obama is a Muslim, used racial slurs in tweets and on the air in his radio show, and once had a dispute over unpaid child-support payments with an ex-wife. In short, Walsh’s background is extremely similar, and in some ways identical, to that which purportedly is the reason Americans should toss Trump out… The willingness of some anti-Trumpers to tolerate Walsh… places their criticisms into perspective. Apparently, it’s okay when they wrestle with difficult moral decisions and decide to overlook the obvious and apparent unfitness of a man to become president, but it’s not okay when many conservatives look at a flawed president and make reluctant but rational decisions they disagree with.”
Henry Olsen, Washington Post

“It’s fairly typical for politicians to change their positions over time for expediency. Kirsten Gillibrand, for instance, has flip-flopped on gun rights. Ted Cruz has flip-flopped on Trump. They all do it. But even the most cynical politicians tend to have boundaries they won’t cross. Joe Walsh alone has gone from North Shore liberal to racist conspiracy theorist and back to Never-Trumper shocked at the behavior of our incontinent president.”
Timothy P. Carney. Washington Examiner

Once Trump became President and started delivering conservative policies, suddenly Walsh was concerned… Trump, as President, has moved the embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, filled the courts with great conservatives, undertaken a historic regulatory rollback, scrapped the Iran deal, rolled back US commitments in the world, and worked to tighten the U.S. border with Mexico. Now, suddenly, Walsh has a problem with the President?…

“But this goes beyond Joe Walsh. He is being pushed by a bunch of people who claim character really does matter. So they’ve settled for an opportunistic grifter and birther conspiracist. They might as well back Donald Trump instead of mini-Trump humper turned Trump dumper. What a spectacular admission of failure that Walsh is the best they could come up with. And that they would settle for him suggests they really aren’t that concerned with character. If they just want to beat Trump, rally to Joe Biden — be honest that you’d rather a Democrat instead of pretending to be all about character and conviction while nominating the poor man’s version of Donald Trump.”
Erick Erickson, The Resurgent

“The fact that hardcore Never Trump pundits have settled on *squints, checks notes* Joe Walsh and Mark Sanford as better options than the president says a lot about whether they want to preserve conservatism or whether they simply despise Trump.”
Alexandra DeSanctis, Twitter

“Never Trumpers certainly have relevance, but there is something arguably much more important that they do not have: a constituency. The vast majority of conservatives and Republicans outside of the media and the Beltway approve of the job President Trump is doing… This doesn’t mean that all of these conservatives supporting Trump think he is the greatest president of all time, the only one who can save us, or some great moral leader. Some of Trump’s core supporters feel that way, but most don’t. Most see politics as transactional, and given the choice between Trump’s eccentricities and the Democrats’ extreme and radical policy positions, they quite reasonably prefer the former.”
David Marcus, The Federalist

Others note, “I’d hate to be a Democratic member of Congress trying to convince Joe Sixpack that this is a whole new ballgame. The transcript shows Trump being Trump and Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky trying to ingratiate himself with the big dog by, for instance, mentioning that he stays at Trump hotels. Trump’s conversation is typically scattershot, wandering all over the field, leaving a reasonable listener puzzled about what the takeaways are supposed to be…

“I think Joe Sixpack’s response is going to be a hearty shrug. After all that has emerged about Trump so far, his approval rating is closely tracking Obama’s approval at the same point in his presidency. To get Mr. Sixpack’s attention you are going to have to do better than this.”
Kyle Smith, National Review

President Trump should be happy. As much as Warren is articulate, obviously intelligent, and energetically supported by Democrats, she would also be far easier to defeat than Joe Biden… Considering Trump's economy, the president is well placed to defeat Warren.”
Tom Rogan, Washington Examiner

A libertarian's take

“While running for president in 2000, George W. Bush derided ‘nation building’ and said American foreign policy should be ‘humble’ rather than ‘arrogant.’ As president, Bush brought us the disastrous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq… While running for president in 2007, Barack Obama rejected the idea that the president has the authority to wage war without congressional authorization whenever he thinks it is in the national interest… As president, Obama did that very thing in Libya… A few years before his 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said the U.S. should withdraw immediately from Afghanistan… As president, he sent more troops to Afghanistan…

“Three men with little or no foreign policy experience entered an office where they were surrounded by experts, and they quickly shed their initial skepticism of military intervention… we should worry about a president with little knowledge of the world whose military decisions are driven by anger or domestic political considerations. But it's not clear to me that such a president poses a bigger danger than the experts who have been disastrously wrong more times than we can count.”
Jacob Sullum, Reason

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