Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Cable News)

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 27 2011 8:19 AM

Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Cable News)

I spent some time this week with Rep. Joe Walsh, R-Ill., a freshman who won an upset last year and has become, for various reasons, the member of his class who most often gets interviewed on TV. Why? Because he'll say anything, and stand by it. In the ongoing contest to become the Tea Party's ID, he's in the lead. For example, Walsh on Obama:

"Look," he says, "I don't think this is complicated. He doesn't really have a history. I say all of this respectfully—he is the least well-known guy we have ever put in the presidency, and there's no one even close. He's probably got easily the lightest résumé of anybody we've elected."

Walsh leans forward and taps me on the knee with a bumper sticker.

"Why was he elected? Again, it comes back to who he was. He was black, he was historic. And there's nothing racist about this. It is what it is. If he had been a dynamic, white, state senator elected to Congress he wouldn't have gotten in the game this fast. This is what made him different. That, combined with the fact that your profession"—another friendly tap of the bumper sticker—"not you, but your profession, was just absolutely compliant. They made up their minds early that they were in love with him. They were in love with him because they thought he was a good liberal guy and they were in love with him because he pushed that magical button: a black man who was articulate, liberal, the whole white guilt, all of that."

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David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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