The New York Times reported last night that former GOP Congressman Joe Walsh of Illinois is strongly considering a primary challenge to President Trump. Walsh is being encouraged in this quixotic endeavor by none other than Bill Kristol, editor-at-large of The Bulwark, and the former editor-in-chief of the now-defunct Weekly Standard.
Kristol might consider posting a Craigslist ad for President, then choosing someone at random — and he would still likely end up with a more suitable candidate.
Why Joe Walsh? Well, Bill Kristol has never been particularly discerning when it comes to potential Trump challengers. In the 2016 election cycle, Kristol first urged National Review senior writer David French to run; French ultimately withdrew a few days after his name was floated.
Kristol was forced to settle on former CIA staffer Evan McMullin as his anti-Trump challenger. McMullin managed to capture only 0.54% of the vote on Election Day, finishing behind both the Libertarian Party and Green Party candidates.
In Walsh, Bill Kristol has at least found a candidate who has held elected office: Walsh served a single term in the House of Representatives, from 2011 to 2013. But in every other respect, Walsh is a worse candidate and man than either of Kristol’s previous no-chance candidates. At this point, Kristol might consider posting a Craigslist ad for President, then choosing someone at random; he would still likely end up with a more suitable candidate.
The push for Joe Walsh represents more than the last gasp of the #NeverTrump movement. It is a manifestation of their desperation — and their contempt — for Trump, and the Americans that put him in power.
JOE WALSH: AN INTEMPERATE BIGOT
Joe Walsh’s Twitter history is replete with crass, racist, and bigoted tweets.
In 2014 Walsh tweeted about a seeming double-standard, complaining that he was not allowed to use the n-word in polite company — while using the n-word. In 2016, Walsh tweeted — after 5 police officers were slain in Dallas — that “real America” was “coming after” the “black lives matter punks” and that they should “watch out.” And as recently as February 2018, fourteen months after Trump was elected, Walsh tweeted about his belief that former President Obama was, in fact, a stealth Muslim.
Beyond corruption — and a seeming inability to comply with child support law — Walsh is also notable for his complete lack of composure.
Muslims and African-Americans weren’t the only regular targets of Walsh’s ire. Walsh once described the LGBT community as “constitutional terrorists,” and appears to have the same longing to use homophobic slurs as he does the n-word.
Mr. Walsh, in a mea culpa published in the New York Times on August 14th, admitted to, “on more than one occasion,” questioning President Obama’s “truthfulness about his religion.” This is perhaps the understatement of the year; as of publication, Mr. Walsh has dozens of tweets about former President Obama and Islam still up on Twitter.
Walsh now says that there “is no place in our politics for personal attacks like that, and I regret making them.” It’s hard to take Mr. Walsh’s “regret” seriously, given that after a mere one week of repentance, he’s on the verge of announcing his candidacy for the highest office in the land.
The #NeverTrump crowd might, confronted with Joe Walsh’s past racism and bigotry, retreat to the facile argument that he is more “fit” for the Presidency than Donald Trump. Walsh is notorious as a deadbeat dad, and Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington once named him one of the “most corrupt” politicians in Washington. One wonders what would make a candidate unfit in Bill Kristol’s eyes — beyond, of course, having the surname “Trump.”
Beyond corruption — and a seeming inability to comply with child support law — Joe Walsh is also notable for his complete lack of composure. In 2011, while in Congress, he took the opportunity to scream at some of his constituents for wondering whether big banks might bear some of the blame for the financial crisis:
It’s not just that Joe Walsh shouldn’t be in public office; he shouldn’t be allowed within one thousand feet of one.
The #NeverTrump clique’s willingness to support Joe Walsh demonstrates that their commitment to “principles” is paper-thin. They argue, frivolously, that Trump is a racist and unfit to be President; to replace him, they offer an actual racist and a deadbeat dad. There is nothing holding the #NeverTrump ideology together, no principles or values — only resentment.
Kristol, Rubin, Wilson, and Nichols simply do not understand those they insult. Trump voters are nationalists, not racists.
But there’s more than just a lack of principle in Bill Kristol’s willingness to support Joe Walsh; something deeper, and more insidious.
In the New York Times report on Walsh’s potential candidacy, Kristol described Walsh as having “an ability to speak to Republican primary voters that ‘Never Trumpers’ like me don’t have.” Jennifer Rubin, too, believes that Joe Walsh is “just the guy” to face Trump in a primary.
We’ve seen how Joe Walsh spoke to Republican Primary voters before turning to #NeverTrump: he said racist and bigoted things, loudly, in an attempt to court controversy. That Kristol and Rubin believe Joe Walsh is the man to take on Trump reveals that they believe Republican primary voters are racist, and that the man to beat Trump in the primary is a racist #NeverTrump candidate.
In their contempt for Trump voters, Bill Kristol and Jennifer Rubin share much with their fellow #NeverTrump ideologues, “GOP” strategist Rick Wilson and Naval War College professor Tom Nichols. The intemperate Wilson famously referred to Trump voters as “ten-toothed rubes.” Nichols, who apparently agrees with Wilson that mocking poor Americans’ inability to afford dental care is the height of wit, also routinely spouts bigotry towards working-class Americans.
Like their fellow progressives, Kristol, Rubin, Wilson, and Nichols simply do not understand those they insult. Trump voters are nationalists, not racists. President Trump appealed to them not with racial slurs, but by speaking to their most fundamental concerns — trade, immigration, non-interventionism — and demonstrating that he was going to prioritize their interests. Trump’s nationalism represents a return to the “horizontal comradeship” that is the basis of national communities.
But the #NeverTrump clique will not internalize this lesson. They believe that a combination of neoconservative foreign policy and hyper-libertarian domestic policy can win over Republican voters, if they just add some racism to the mix. Thus, they support Walsh, a racist and a bigot, but one who will yell at voters about their insufficient fealty to big banks.
Good luck with that.
When you hold voters in contempt, it’s difficult to empathize with them. #NeverTrump’s support of Joe Walsh is a case in point. One suspects that Tim Murtaugh, the director of communications for President Trump’s 2020 campaign, has it right when he states that Walsh’s nascent campaign will end in “certain failure.”
Perhaps Bill Kristol will try Roy Moore next.