Saturday, March 24, 2007

Walberg: I'm not racist, honest!

Ah, more on Congressman Walberg's poorly-chosen words regarding Iraq and Detroit. Remember, folks, this is the story that defines the rest of the country's perception of our district.

Just to recap, this is what he said:
Walberg: "In talking with people who have been on the ground over
there (Iraq) and have returned in just recent days, as I will talk
coming up Wednesday when I'm over at Walter Reed Hospital again
talking to our troops as well as some of the officers who have
returned, they indicate to me that 80 to 85% in a conservative
fashion, of the country is reasonably under control at least as well
as Detroit or Chicago or any of our other big cites. That's an
encouraging sign."

Radio Host: "I've never heard Iraq compared to Detroit before."

Walberg: "Well in fact in many places it's as safe and cared for as
Detroit or Harvey, Illinois or some other places that have trouble
with armed violence that takes place on occasion."
On the one hand, this is just a sign of how incredibly out-of-touch Walberg is with the actual state of affairs in Iraq and with the wishes of the American people. That in and of itself is worth discussing.

But then there's this whole other dimension to it. Why did he pick Detroit, Chicago, and then Harvey, Illinois? Here's what the mayor of Harvey, Illinois had to say:

Harvey Mayor Eric J. Kellogg said in a statement that Walberg's comments take "racial profiling and stereotyping to extreme levels.

"Even though our country appears to have accomplish(ed) great gains in racial harmony, we still have members of Congress who suffer from the highest levels of ignorance and stupidity."

So was it a hint of racial bias shining through? Mayor Kellogg isn't the only one to have that thought. A couple people sent me links to this:

Whitest Man in America Compares Detroit to Iraq

Congressman Tim Walberg (R-MI), perhaps the whitest person I've ever seen, is taking heat for comparing Iraq and Detroit on a Michigan radio station. The Republican congressman representing rural southern Michigan said that most of Iraq "is reasonably under control, at least as well as Detroit."
... And it continues from there.

At the Lincoln Day dinner for the Jackson County Republicans (where, incidentally, Walberg was introducing none other than Karl Rove, President Bush's top political strategist), Walberg took a moment to defend himself. Reporter Susan Demas (apparently at the Battle Creek Enquirer now, after working with the Jackson Citizen Patriot previously) brings us this:
JACKSON — After winning kudos from Rush Limbaugh and appearing on Fox News Channel this week, U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg said Saturday the firestorm over his comments comparing Iraq to Detroit is “overblown.”
I'm just going to interject that, if I were a politician that in any way hoped to appeal to moderate voters, I wouldn't want Rush Limbaugh to praise me for anything. Really.
“No apology is necessary,” Walberg said at the Jackson County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. “I have no reason to.”
“There was nothing racist about it,” Walberg said. “I meant it as a compliment to people in Detroit and Chicago. Aren’t there white people in Chicago? Aren’t there white people in Detroit?”

According to the 2003 U.S. Census, 12 percent of Detroit residents are white, 82 percent are black and 5 percent are Hispanic. In the Chicago suburb of Harvey, whites make up 10 percent, blacks are 80 percent and Hispanics are 13 percent.

Political analysts have said Walberg’s remarks could hurt his 2008 election fundraising, something the congressman shrugs off.

“Our goal is to make a real strong showing in the first quarter, so people like Joe Schwarz back off,” Walberg said after Rove’s remarks.

Walberg defeated the incumbent Schwarz in the 2006 GOP primary. Schwarz, R-Battle Creek, has said he’ll decide whether to run again this summer.
And that's his defense. There are white people there, too, and he's gonna raise a lot of money.


I'm not going to try to speculate on the racial side of this. I will, however, say that it's really terrible timing on his part to say all this the same week that he voted against a bill to help low-income (and often African American) victims of Hurricane Katrina. It just sort of sends the wrong message.

This is also the wrong thing to say:
“No apology is necessary,” Walberg said at the Jackson County GOP Lincoln Day Dinner. “I have no reason to.”
So I pose a few questions to you, the residents of the 7th District and readers of the blog:
  1. Does Tim Walberg owe anyone an apology? If yes, to whom?
  2. Do you think his comments were racially inspired?
  3. Will his strategy of raising a lot of money in the first quarter scare off any serious challengers?
  4. He mentions Joe Schwarz by name, and seems to be more worried about a primary challenge. How little respect does he have for Democrats in this district?
Share your thoughts in the comments.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention this comment from the Enquirer story, by a user named bccurmudgeon:
I honestly can't remember a time before when I was in agreement with Carolyn Kilpatrick, but this is it.

Note that Walberg's chief concern as expressed in this article seems to be that he raises a lot of money to make his political opponents back off. He doesn't think he should apologize for insulting the largest city in the state he "represents" or for demonstrating his breathtaking ignorance of foreign affairs, statesmanship, or simple common sense.

This man is narrow, untutored, and in thrall to personal ambition.

Labels: , , ,

The fact that Walberg brought up Schwarz in Jackson is very encouraging and a sign he's running very scared.

Schwarz has been very cool since November has pretty much taken a vow of silence, although he's had many opportunities and reasons to lash out. He hasn't even mentioned Walberg's name in public or made any comments whatsoever and yet Walberg brings him up in front of the Jackson faithful.

That tells me Walberg is scared shiftless about a primary challenge. I find this very positive for Schwarz and a good Democrat. Maybe voters will have a real choice in 2008.
From today's CIT PAT:

U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg, R-Tipton, who found himself amid controversy last week when he said Iraq is as safe as Detroit, introduced Rove as "a warm, huggable guy that does what he has to do."

This guy is totally delusional. What Rove "has to do" is carry out character assassinations on behalf of GW and destroy Republicans who don't go along with the "agenda."

Rove is the classic example of the tail wagging the dog. Walberg is just pawn in a much bigger game.
Walberg's comments solicited an "entry" on Many of the bloggers had statements to the effect that we (the voters of the 7th District) must be stupid idiots to elect this guy. Sadly, what can we say in our defense, it is embarressing.

Hopefully, Stephen Colbert will get him on The Colbert Report's "Better Know a District" and make him look more idiotic than he already is.
Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home


August 2006   September 2006   October 2006   November 2006   December 2006   January 2007   February 2007   March 2007   April 2007   May 2007   June 2007   July 2007   August 2007   September 2007   October 2007   November 2007   December 2007   January 2008   February 2008   March 2008   April 2008   May 2008   June 2008   July 2008   August 2008   September 2008   October 2008   November 2008