Many Tea Party Republicans continue to be strident, unquestioning supporters of President Donald Trump, but Joe Walsh is not one of them: the former Illinois congressman turned talk radio host is now as critical of Trump as he was of President Barack Obama in the late 2000s/early 2010s. And in an August 14 op-ed for the New York Times, Walsh stresses that he would like to see Trump face an aggressive GOP primary challenge from the right in the 2020 presidential election.
The fact that Walsh is now a blistering Trump critic doesn’t mean he has turned centrist, let alone liberal or progressive. The 57-year-old Walsh is still far-right politically, and he believes that what Trump still lacks is a GOP primary challenge from the right. Former Massachusetts Gov. Bill Weld, Walsh contends, “is challenging Mr. Trump from the center.”
“The president is more vulnerable to a challenge from the right,” Walsh asserts. “I’m on the right, and I’m hugely disappointed that challenge hasn’t yet materialized.”
Walsh writes that in 2016, he voted for Trump “because he wasn’t Hillary Clinton” and “gave him a fair hearing” after he won. But Trump, Walsh emphasizes in his op-ed, has turned out to be a disastrous president in many respects.
For example, Walsh writes, Trump “has increased the deficit more than $100 billion year over year” and “sides with (Russian President) Vladimir Putin over our own intelligence community.” Moreover, Walsh says, Trump “refuses to take foreign threats seriously as we enter the 2020 election. That’s reckless.”
“We now have a president who retweets conspiracy theories implicating his political opponents in Jeffrey Epstein’s death,” Walsh observes. “We now have a president who does his level best to avoid condemning white supremacy and white nationalism.”
Walsh even calls out Trump’s “ugly, racist attack on four minority congresswomen” — a reference to the president’s recent diatribes against Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rep. Rashida Tlaib, Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Rep. Ilhan Omar, all of whom he told to go back to the countries they originally came from even though three of the four were born and raised in the U.S. and the Somali-born Omar has been a naturalized U.S. citizen since 2000.
For those who remember some of his caustic, incendiary attacks on Obama, it might seem ironic to hear Walsh — of all people — calling Trump out for his extremism. But Walsh expresses regrets over things he said during the Obama years, writing, “In Mr. Trump, I see the worst and ugliest iteration of views I expressed for the better part of a decade. To be sure, I’ve had my share of controversy. On more than one occasion, I questioned Mr. Obama’s truthfulness about his religion.”
The main reason to challenge Trump from the right, Walsh emphasizes, is that he doesn’t really represent conservative ideas.
“Despite what his enablers claim, Mr. Trump isn’t a conservative,” Walsh declares. “He’s reckless on fiscal issues. He’s incompetent on the border. He’s clueless on trade. He misunderstands executive power, and he subverts the rule of law. It’s his poor record that makes him most worthy of a primary challenge.”