Joe Walsh on prejudiced tweets: I've said racist things but I wouldn't call myself a racist

Joe Walsh on prejudiced tweets: I've said racist things but I wouldn't call myself a racist

“I think we’re all a little bit racist,” he told CNN in a separate interview when asked about this, which may be true.

But a few of us are a lot racist.

Go read the long list of “problematic” Walsh tweets that the Examiner’s Jerry Dunleavy curated. Hardcore Never Trumpers like George Conway have taken to defending Walsh’s worst rhetorical excesses on Twitter by pointing out that, unlike Trump, at least he’s apologized for his mistakes. That’s true, but when you read Dunleavy’s list you come away wondering how sincere a blanket apology can be, especially when it’s conveniently timed to make Walsh more palatable to GOP primary voters who object to Trump chiefly on grounds of fitness and character.

In fact, if you’re willing to overlook Walsh’s sins in the name of punishing Trump for his own, you’re guilty of one of the larger ironies in politics at the moment:

They’re repeating the dynamic of 2016, except instead of making excuses for Trump in the name of defeating the greater evil of Hillary Clinton they’re making excuses for Walsh in the name of defeating the greater evil of Trump. Suddenly I’m having visions of Walsh shocking the world by winning the presidency and senior White House advisor George Conway defending him circa 2021 with “At least he fights!”

Henry Olsen elaborated on the irony:

The willingness of some anti-Trumpers to tolerate Walsh, however, 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.

I know lots of anti-Trumpers — ardent progressives, centrists, disappointed conservatives and libertarians. All are motivated by sincere principles. All are deeply disturbed by Trump’s behavior and character. I understand and respect their views.

Walsh’s candidacy forces them to make a choice. If they want people to take their moral rectitude seriously, they need to clearly and vocally reject Walsh’s effort and place their hopes in the basket of someone who isn’t Trump’s political Mini-Me. If they don’t, then it will be clear to all that they think the rest of us are, to quote Thomas Jefferson, a mere “mass of mankind … born with saddles on [our] backs” to be ridden by them, a “favored few, booted and spurred.” Or, to put it simply, they just think they’re better than the rest of us.

Walsh is doing what he can to mitigate that perception, apologizing repeatedly when confronted with the things he’s said — which is, after all, a contrast with Trump — and even parlaying his sins into an indictment of his opponent. “I think I’m partly responsible for Trump, and that’s kind of a scary thing to say,” he said to MSNBC yesterday. That’s his best chance at convincing people to forgive him for his old tweets. The problems with our party are bigger than Trump, he might say, and having encouraged reactionary attitudes in the past, I feel personally responsible for trying to set it on a better course for the future. If he treats the primary as a wider reckoning with the GOP’s turn towards white identity politics then he can run as a sort of “recovering addict” preaching to everyone else to get clean. It’s not going to win him many votes but his goal isn’t to win, obviously. It’s to give righties outside of Trump’s MAGA base reason to reconsider their support for Trump on moral grounds ahead of the general election.

I’m surprised at how restrained Trump has been in not tweeting about him yet, incidentally. It’s good strategy not to promote a no-name opponent but it must be killing him not to revisit some of Walsh’s worst utterances on Twitter. It goes against every instinct Trump has to punish his enemies personally. I bet he will start tweeting about Walsh despite his advisors’ recommendations to the contrary. He probably would have already if not for the fact that he was preoccupied this weekend with the G-7.

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