Joe Walsh must be buckling under the weight of all that Tea Party sanctimony he had a hand in heaping on everyone else.
The former Illinois GOP congressman, who lost his seat last fall to Democrat and Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, has apparently fallen on hard times.
Since he lost his election – and a government paycheck that tea partiers like him built an entire movement on vilifying since a black man was elected to receive the top one – Walsh now claims that he cannot afford to support his kids.
According to the Chicago Sun-Times, Walsh didn’t pay the $2,134 he owed his former wife in January for child support, and his attorneys have filed a motion to terminate his payments.
Among other things, it states: “Joe’s employment has been terminated through no voluntary act of his own and he is without sufficient income or assets with which to continue to pay his support obligation…
“Due to a substantial change of circumstances, Joe requests that his child support obligation be terminated based on his present income and circumstances.”
Walsh’s lawyer told the Sun-Times that the word “terminate” in the motion is misleading; that Walsh only wants to modify the payment amount and isn’t trying to get out of paying.
But this all comes from an anti-government guy who was apparently thought he was guaranteed more income from the taxpayers.
This comes from a guy who once said that he wouldn’t place another dollar of debt on the backs of his kids and grandkids unless Washington structurally reformed the way it spent money.
Apparently, Walsh not only doesn’t want to place more debt on his kids. He also doesn’t want to live up to his own debt obligations to them.
This comes from a guy who once said that he opposed extending unemployment benefits; a guy who said he didn’t believe in a social safety net because it wasn’t in the Constitution.
This from the guy who once said that women’s health advocate Sandra Fluke, should “get a job,” and stop talking about affordable contraception.
Now Fluke can tell him he ought to get one.
But for all the hard-hearted ideology that Walsh wanted to cram down everyone else’s throat, he apparently now believes he’s owed a soft-hearted remedy from a judge when it comes to taking care of his children.
If he gets one, it’ll speak to the power of white privilege in America.
That’s because every day around this country, men, usually men of color, are either jailed or stripped of numerous privileges for non-payment of child support.
Unlike Walsh, these aren’t men who had opportunities to make money or capitalize on connections they made while holding a political office.
According to the Center for American Progress, half of all men who owe child support are the poorest men in society, and 70 percent of all past due payments are owed by those making $10,000 or less.
Many struggle disproportionately with unemployment, which makes it tougher for them to pay child support; right now the black male unemployment rate is 13.4 percent, while the white male unemployment rate is 6.6 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Some wind up in jail for not paying, while others lose privileges such as driving licenses – which makes it even tougher for them to get a job and earn money.
Yet these are men who tea partiers like Walsh and others would roll their eyes at and tell them to get a job. These are the men who they’d blame for having children in the first place, and who they’d treat with contempt, not compassion or understanding.
But it seems that even now, with the specter of being a deadbeat dad hanging over him, Walsh is pushing on. He’s trying to start a new, conservative Super PAC, and to land a radio gig.
You’d think he’d want to lay low, get himself a job and settle his child support woes before venturing into anything as public as being on the radio.
But Walsh feels more privilege than shame. Shame is for the poor, struggling black men who cannot pay child support, and, unlike Walsh, can’t afford to pay a lawyer to explain why they cannot pay.
Unlike Walsh, they’ll wind up in jail. He may very well wind up on the radio – or maybe even on Fox News.
And sadly enough, in this day and age, no one would be surprised.
Tonyaa Weathersbee is an award-winning columnist based in Jacksonville, Fla. Follow her @tonyaajw. Or visit her webpage and blog, “Tonyaa’s Take,” at www.tonyaajweathersbee.com.