Joe Walsh was a political friend and ally for a number of years. If you are not familiar with him, he was a one-term Republican congressman – where he earned a reputation of being a hot-headed show boater. After losing his congressional seat, Walsh became a conservative talk show host.
Walsh pursued his conservative ideology with passion and flair. He was a showman. In speeches, he would scream at the audience to get a point across. He would jump on chairs and bounce around on a stage like a human pogo stick for visual effect. He was so wild that on occasion many friends thought Walsh allowed his theatrics to suffocate his message. It was entertainment instead of information.
Walsh took his same browbeating approach to radio. He took no prisoners in his defense of the Republican Party and conservatism. He eviscerated his left-leaning critics.
The one thing that could never have been denied about Walsh in those days was that he was 100 percent a hardline conservative – maybe even a bit too extreme and strident at times.
For the first couple years of the Trump administration, Walsh was a consistent supporter and defender. He was an unapologetic Trump trumpet.
But then something changed. For those of us who only paid casual or intermittent attention to Walsh, it seemed rather sudden – and definitely inexplicable. Walsh suddenly hated Trump. Ever more astonishing, he seemed to have suffered an ideology transplant. It was not just Trump. Walsh turned against the Republican Party and the conservative movement he once held dear.
In response, Walsh became the target of vitriol from former fans and friends. Ironically, he seemed to be getting more attention as the apostate than he was from his declining radio show audience. The hardline right-wing Walsh was not getting as much positive attention. Perhaps his followers had seen Walsh’s political schtick too many times.
But as one door was closing, another was opening. Throughout the Trump term in office, left-wing media provided a platform and a megaphone to any Republican willing to dump on Trump. In fact, there was a cabal of such apostates that were regulars on CNN and MSNBC and had their guest editorial columns appear in the New York Times or the Washington Post.
From an outside perspective, it seemed that Walsh saw his only chance to grab some spotlight was to become one of the conservative apostates. And if you knew Walsh, you would know that he is not a halfway guy. He stakes his positions on the far edge of political opinion. His trademark is sensationalism.
In a 180-degree juxtaposition from his previous ideological ground, Walsh now trumpets the Democrats’ and the left’s (excuse the repetition) narrative with the same theatrical flamboyance and hyperbole he once reserved for his conservative opinions. According to Walsh, there is no longer a Republican Party. It is a cult. Only the Democrats have positive ideas. He is an asset of the left these days.
But, it is working for him. The major east coast news outlets that had ignored Wash for the past few years have now made him something of a regular. The left-leaning media now gives Walsh the exposure he craves. And the more exposure the elitist press gives him, the more strident – and irrational – he becomes.
In this ideological switch-a-roo we may have seen Walsh’s soul. It is almost impossible to avoid an unpleasant discovery about an old friend – and that is, Walsh was never a Republican … a conservative … a person with deeply held political beliefs. Those were just the scripts and props for an “act” – in the theatrical tradition.
Sadly, it may be that Walsh’s drive has never been about politics or ideology. Rather, he is an ego driven personality – a guy who needs attention – any attention – as his raison d’être. He is a political crustacean, that has no inner spine — but whose only support comes from an external shell of public attention.
If there is any example of the fate that Walsh faces, we might look at Steve Schmidt, the Republican apostate whose harsh – and often crude –attacks on Trump made him a very popular “contributor” on CNN and MSNBC. Since Trump is no longer the obsessive target of Democrat derision that he was while in office, the utility of people like Schmidt has diminished because they are no longer useful idiots for the left.
There may come a day of reckoning for Walsh – a day when his old friends are gone forever, and his new friends find no benefit in patronizing him. Eventual anonymity may be a terrible blow to Walsh’s ego but would be a thankful benefit for the rest of America.
So, there ‘tis.