Last year, Tim Walberg received some criticism for his inappropriate remark invoking domestic violence to a constituent question. This report looks into some additional aspects of that incident that did not get much prior coverage, such as:
- Walberg made that same remark twice over the span of two days
- The full questions and context in which Walberg made those remarks
- How Walberg spun and doubled-down when faced with criticism for it
- Outline of the justifications for criticism of Walberg’s remarks
|[At this moment a swell of heckling began which made some news in itself]|
Every time I review Walberg’s remark there, I’m struck by how he said, “that’s the best way I can answer it.” It would be interesting to have Walberg outline how he thinks his response adequately addressed the question that was asked. Also, Walberg’s claim that he, “majored in biology with a minor in geology in university” is a complete lie. My full report on that topic is here:
So, Walberg affirmed once again that he wants to make cuts to Medicaid. So, it is not unfair for citizens to ask Walberg why he wants to make cuts to Medicaid, because that is his intention.
Walberg’s domestic violence comments got news coverage that day. So, the next day he addressed that criticism in his opening remarks.
|“But then to say in my response that took umbrage with that strongly, and now say that I countenance and make fun of domestic violence? Anyone who knows me, and has known my positions, my voting record, know my relationship with my wife of 43 years, and how I’ve carried myself throughout this community, understands why I take umbrage with that. But I’m going to continue doing these town hall meetings, with iPhones pointed at me, with recording being done by trackers for my opposition in the coming campaign. We’re gonna do this because you deserve to hear from your representative. But I hope when you hear those statements, and see those pictures that will come from those cameras, and those statements that are made, you’ll understand there’s another part of the story.”|
So, Walberg doubled-down that he believes that his domestic violence responses were appropriate. As he originally made them, it did not seem as though Walberg was taking “strong umbrage” to the questions. Walberg grinned both times. People don’t normally grin when they take umbrage to something.
Walberg also said that his record will make anyone understand why he would take umbrage with anybody that would accuse him of making fun of domestic violence. As someone who is familiar with Walberg’s record and previous statements, his stance on domestic violence is not clear. Walberg reliably votes against increasing restrictions to guns and concealed carry permits for convicted domestic abusers. Here are two other recent examples:
1) When Walberg was asked about Greg Gianforte violently attacking a journalist for asking a question, Walberg said that what Gianforte did could be seen as courageous, and Walberg was delighted to have him in Congress because Gianforte is a Republican:
(Video (39:30 mark)
|Walberg: “He didn’t have a criminal offense. $250 fine. I think probably Montana’s, Montana’s cowboys etcetera didn’t see that as anything but a badge of courage. I promise you, I’m not gonna body-slam a reporter - intentionally. I wrestled in high school and college. I have four rotator cuff, bicep injuries to show that I can’t do that anymore… It does get frustrating, but I won’t body slam them. And Montana’s decided that was okay… they made that decision in Montana. And I’m delighted because I want a Republican in that seat.”|
Moral Relativism: Belief that morality is a variable cultural construct; there are no universal moral values.
FOUR REASONS WHY WALBERG WAS JUSTIFIABLY CRITICIZED
Walberg has either deliberately avoided addressing the points of criticism toward his controversial remarks, or he does not understand them. So, I will spell it out:
1)Walberg’s comments lessen the magnitude of domestic violence. – Among the attendees of Walberg’s two coffee hours, there were certainly people who had lived through real domestic violence. Walberg objected to critics for saying he made fun of domestic violence. So, I ask for Walberg to review the videos and see whether or not he grinned both times that he made those wife-beating remarks, and if he grinned at the constituents who had expressed their offense. Even if deep down Walberg was earnestly hurt by the questions that were asked, nobody had broken the rules that Walberg had set for the Coffee Hour. The questions had both been vetted by the moderators selected by Walberg’s office. Whatever stress or offense that Walberg may have endured by to those peacefully moderated questions, could never be compared to domestic violence, abuse, or being falsely accused of a crime. By drawing such a comparison, Walberg minimizes the suffering and lasting effects on people who have endured actual violence. Walberg’s grinning at the constituents who took offense to his remarks also demonstrates a carelessness toward the people he is obliged to represent.
2) Walberg intended to make constituents feel bad for asking perfectly legitimate questions. – Walberg attempted to equate constituents asking topical town hall questions, with constituents falsely accusing Walberg of violent crimes. Walberg attempted to publicly shame his constituents for having asked those questions. There was nothing inappropriate about the questions that were submitted and read aloud by Walberg’s moderators. There is no justification for Walberg to pretend to have been blindsided by inappropriate questions.
3) What context prompted Walberg to invoke domestic violence? – The first question was about science education, and the second question was about cuts to mandatory spending programs. Walberg said that critics were “taking statements out of context”, but he failed to explain what context would have made his comments appropriate in the first place.
4) Walberg thought he was being funny. – The wife-beating line went over better with the people at Delta Township than it did at the Dexter event. I don’t know if Walberg had ever used that line in the past, but it did elicit chuckles at Delta Township. Walberg was probably pleased by that reaction, and figured it would be a useful comeback line whenever tough questions come at him in the future. That is why he grinned both times after he said it. When the line didn’t go over well at Dexter, Walberg attempted to spin his motivation for saying the line. He argued that he had taken serious umbrage with the question that was asked, because the question was based on a maligning premise. However, Walberg should not take umbrage for being asked if he wants to make cuts to Medicaid, because moments later, he affirmed the premise of the question, that he does wants to make cuts to Medicaid.
SPINNING IT INTO SOMETHING NICE AND FOLKSY
Walberg’s attempts to spin the motivation behind his disrespectful remarks are similar to the October 16, 2017 Coffee Hour in Tecumseh, when he said: “Those of you who think there’s impeachable offenses to Tweets? Get a life. Get a life.” Some of the constituents that day told Walberg that it was disrespectful for him to tell them to get a life. We can see in real time how Walberg tried to spin his own intentions, by saying, “I’m not disrespecting you. If you can’t take a simple statement that says: Folks, we need to get a life. Get a Life! Enjoy America folks! C’mon, this politically correct stuff goes too far. Goes too far. Too far.” So, Walberg tried warp a direct declaration to “Get a life” into a “simple statement” that “we” should all enjoy America by getting a life: Yippy, let’s all unite together in getting a life.
Gee golly shucks, it’s all warm and homespun now. Walberg could use that same technique to spin his gaffs into folksy simple statements in campaign slogans, like so:
Video of Walberg’s “get a life” remarks
See (37:00 mark & and 51:00 mark for Walberg’s spin)