Updated November 9, 3:30 p.m. ET
A constituent town hall meeting by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) this past Sunday was disrupted by a loud, combative man who yelled and cursed at the other attendees: Namely, Congressman Walsh himself.
Walsh — the freshman Tea Party Republican elected in the 2010 GOP wave, who was recently given a “pro-family” award by a top conservative group, despite allegations by his ex-wife that he owes over $100,000 in back child support — held the small constituent meeting at a local UNO bar and grill.Walsh proceeded to get into a freewheeling argument with attendees over the role of government in the economy, with Walsh saying that the economic meltdown should not be blamed on the banking industry, but on longstanding government policies that pushed homeownership.
In turn, the attendees complained of the revolving door of policymakers, of officials who go back and forth between working in the banking sector and the government that’s supposed to regulate it.
This caused Walsh to hit back in strong rhetorical terms — in a sort of cross between Jimmy Stewart and Christian Bale.
“I agreeee with you about that! That’s not the problem!” Walsh exclaimed. “That’s not the problem. The problem is, you gotta be consistent. And I don’t want government meddling in the marketplace. Yeah, they move from Goldman Sachs to the White House — I understand all of that.
“But you gotta be consistent. And it’s not the private marketplace created this mess! What created this mess is your government, which has demanded for years that everybody be in a home. And we’ve made it as easy as possible for people to be in homes. All the marketplace does is respond to what the government does. The government sets the rules.
“Don’t blame banks, and don’t blame the marketplace for the mess we’re in right now. I am tired of hearing that crap! I am tired of hearing that crap.”
A woman then complained about banks exploiting the situation, by loaning money to people who they knew could not afford it. At that point, Walsh then walked up to the woman at her barstool, yelling into her face.
Walsh: There are already mechanisms in place!
Woman: You don’t have to scream at me.
Walsh: No, you know what, ’cause this pisses me off! Too many people don’t listen! There are already mechanisms in place to do that. Are they doing their job? No! But what do you want to do? You want to bombard them with more regulations? More government? Government screwed this problem. What do you want?
Walsh then yelled out his question to the crowd, asking them whether they wanted more regulation and laws like Dodd-Frank.
He then yelled: “I need more coffee!”
“I think you’ve had too much!” the woman said, laughing along with others in the restaurant. The crowd began telling the bartender to give Walsh decaf — but he insisted on “strong stuff.”
At this point, Walsh also told another attendee who continued arguing with him: “Quiet for a minute — quiet for a minute. Quiet for a minute! Or I’m gonna ask you to leave. You need to listen, or I’m gonna ask you to leave.”
Interestingly, though, the meeting continued on from there, as Walsh and the same attendees gradually quieted down and continued to talk about more topics.
(To watch the original long videoÂ of the meeting, from which clips have been copied and gone viral, click here.)
Late Update: Walsh wrote an e-mail response to the Illinois political site, Capital Fax, explaining that “I was working on an empty stomach and had a quicker fuse than normal.”
I do these cup of joe’s every wkend, I show up at a coffee shop or restaurant anywhere in district and anyone can come meet with me and talk to me about anything. They are fun, engaging sessions, I often get people who disagree w me on issues at these events and the conversation can be very spirited.
I am very passionate at these events as well as at my town halls. This was no different except I was working on an empty stomach and had a quicker fuse than normal.
The woman I had the heated exchange with was great and she appreciated how open and unusual these events are. I apologized to her for getting a bit to passionate and she smiled and didn’t mind at all.
Regarding the substance rich of what I was trying to say – I’m no pal of the big banks and I wouldn’t have voted to bail any of them out. If they’ve abused their charters they need to be prosecuted fully. But they didn’t get us into this mess – goverment policy which has dictated for years that everyone should own a home got us here. The banks only followed the rules government set. And further government meddling will only exasperate the problem.
(Update via Think Progress)