Jeff Pearlman

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The important lesson of Joe Walsh

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Joe Walsh is a former Illinois congressman and someone I disagree with on nearly all issues.

He’s conservative. Arch conservative. Perhaps arch arch conservative. Through the years his comments and Tweets have often driven me to the brink of insanity. He can be rude, dismissive, harsh, angry, fundamentally incorrect (in my opinion). I can’t state this strongly enough: When I’ve heard Joe Walsh communicate, I’ve shuddered.

And yet …

Something strange has occurred under the Donald Trump nightmare administration, and I actually hope it’s a transformation others have taken, too. Namely, I’ve developed new (and evolving) standards for respecting another human. What I mean is this: Back in the day, I had a very low tolerance for conservative thinkers. I considered them to be selfish, greedy, smug. I viewed many Republicans as, in a way, the enemy. I wanted this for our country, they wanted that—how could we ever agree?

During the Trump catastrophe reign, however, I’m beginning to realize that what matters—more than anything—is integrity. It’s a lesson one can find in the loving kinship of Joe Biden and John McCain. They’re two men who, politically, agree on very little; but two men who have worked side by side because they believe in the other’s character and decency.

As Donald Trump lies and lies and lies and lies, I’ve stopped looking at Republicans as enemies, and I’ve started looking for Republicans willing to stand up to the president; for Republicans espousing the same values today that they did two … five … 10 … 20 years ago. In other words, I’m looking for integrity.

Joe Walsh isn’t my cup of tea. But as others in his party shudder and cower, he occasionally Tweets out stuff like this …

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And this …

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Too often these days, voters are rewarding politicians who flip past stances to align with modern trends in the business. There are pro-NAFTA, anti-wall, pro-DACA Republicans who now cower and hide when asked about their beliefs.

Would I ever vote for Joe Walsh? No.

Do I respect him? Yeah.

I do.

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Once again, Jeff Pearlman has produced an exhaustively researched, elegantly written book that re-creates one of the most colorful and memorable teams of the modern era. No basketball fan's bookshelf will be complete without it.

— Seth Davis, author of Wooden: A Coach's Life