Monday, August 20, 2018

Walberg Compares Constituent Questions to Domestic Violence

Link to formatted, printable PDF of this report:

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

Monday, August 7th, 2017
Coffee Hour
Delta Township, MI
Moderated Question: “That’s a great segue into questions about education. Harry from Grand Ledge: ‘Do you believe in the scientific method as the avenue for determining what is true about the natural world? If yes, how do you reconcile that with your skepticism of global warming due primarily to industrial activity that began in the 19thcentury. If no, do you think we should drop science courses - physics, chemistry, biology – from high school curricula?’”

[Constituents roundly applaud]

Walberg: “That’s probably the most comprehensive question I ever heard in my life, other than, ‘When did you stop beating your wife?. I never started. I majored in biology with a minor in geology in university. I believe in sciences. My best courses in high school and college were in the sciences. I’m a Christian. I believe in a god who created the universe. I believe in a god who wants me to be a good steward of his creation. That’s why science is important. So, I combine those things – being a good steward of the resources that are here, knowing as much as I can about it, but never believing that I’m god in a legislative costume. So, I guess that’s the best way I can answer it. I think it works together.”

[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:

Tuesday, August 8, 2017
2:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Coffee Hour
Dexter, MI
Moderated Question: “Congressman, the next written question here is from Chris Justice [spelling?]. The question is: ‘You have shown with your votes-’And I should say we have many variations of this one: ‘You have shown with your votes and comments that you want to cut Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security. Which one do you want to cut the most?’”

Walberg: “And when did I stop beating my wife? Is that the next question?”

[A din of groans and disapproval from constituents. For ten seconds, Walberg stares ahead grinning at the constituents who are upset at his remark.]

Walberg: “Lemme, let me, let me tell ya’, I have never said that I would do anything except repair Social Security, keep the promise, and that Medicare as well.”

[Walberg continues talking about Medicare and Social security, and avoids mentioning Medicaid. At the 14:10 mark, one of the constituents who originally asked the question follows up asking Walberg to address the Medicaid part of the original question.]

Walberg: I do not want to cut Medicaid for Medicaid recipients that meet the qualifications of Medicaid recipients.We’re talking only Medicaid expansion that we’re looking at.

Live Constituent: That’s still Medicaid!

Walberg: That was not Medicaid until Obamacare.

Live Constituent: That’s Medicaid! My patients rely on that! My patients rely on that!

[A strong round of applause throughout the room]

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.

Wednesday, August 9, 2017
Coffee Hour
Hudson, MI
Video (3:00 mark)
Walberg: “Many of my colleagues have stopped doing it [having town halls]. And the reason they’ve stopped doing it is because they say, ‘Why should I put myself it the setting where the Resist Movement, the Disrupt Movement that’s out there now can have YouTube moments on the cameras, the iPhones that are always there, and have that used against me in my next campaign?’ And that’s what will happen.”

“Yesterday we saw strong evidence of that, and are seeing evidences of taking statements out of context. And encourage me not to be as open and honest with my constituents, because of fear of having those YouTube moments, and having it spun against me. The fact that I would be challenged with an untruth, I would – The example with yesterday, be willing to hurt innocent people by doing away with Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid, and health care, is a scurrilous statement, not backed up with any truth at all, including my voting record, and direct statements.”

“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:

Friday, May 26, 2017
Coffee Hour
Coldwater, MI
(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 RelativismBelief that morality is a variable cultural construct; there are no universal moral values.

            2) Walberg has not made any critical statements about the many allegations of Donald Trump’s sexual assaults and harassment either. Even the ones that Trump has admitted to, and described committing himself. Those things have not hindered Walberg’s support for Trump.


            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.


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 lifeGet 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)


  1. Thanks Steve. Somehow this hits me harder than some of your other blogs...but that could be because I read those first ...He's a pretty slimey fellow for sure.

    1. Thanks. I don't like delving into topics of violence. Most of my reports deal with contradictions, and factual error types of things. That's how I tried to keep the focus with this, but it's unavoidable to have to touch upon the more sensitive areas of violence and it's lasting impact on people. It also struck me that unlike some of the other reports I've covered, which highlight an almost comedic pathology with Walberg's lying, this one shows a darker, more visceral disrespect toward the public in the way that he pushed back nastily on their really basic and casual questions on public policy issues.