8th District: WALSH VS WALSH, II – The Candidate Defends the Tea Party Movement

For those unaware, candidate Joe Walsh made a parody of a song by rock star Joe Walsh of the Eagles and the singer has sent a threatening letter from his lawyer over it. So, candidate Walsh is replying. From the Joe Walsh for Congress campaign…

Mr. Peter T. Paterno
(Attorney for Joe Walsh, the Rockstar)
Kings, Holmes, Paterno, & Berliner, LLP
Los Angeles, CA

Dear Mr. Paterno,

I hope all is well. I’m writing for myself, Joe Walsh, a Republican Candidate for Congress in Illinois 8th District. You know where that is, don’t you? It’s that wide-open part of the country you fly over on your way from Los Angeles to New York. I’m writing in response to your letter addressed to me, which was printed in the Waukegan News Sun yesterday, January 27. That’s the first we ever saw of your letter.

As a candidate for U.S. Congress, I do have a passing familiarity with many of our Country’s laws. But I have a strong familiarity with our Constitution and our freedoms. In fact, one of the main reasons I’m running is to get all of us to start paying more attention to that 220-some year old document. We’ve got folks in Washington who for too long have been passing legislation that has no basis in the Constitution and have for years been eroding our freedoms. I want to put a stop to that.

First off, I’ll be happy to add a disclaimer to the video that says Joe Walsh, the Rockstar, is not affiliated with and is in no way endorsing Joe Walsh, the candidate. Though I’d be happy to sit down with Joe one day soon to discuss his possible endorsement. I have to think he’d be somewhat intrigued.

Second, a good friend of mine, professional musician, and huge Joe Walsh (the rockstar) fan, Joe Cantafio performed this song and he had great fun in doing so. Joe is an amazing guy — he’s lead guitarist and singer for the 101st Rock Division, and they entertain our troops around the world. They performed in Afghanistan and Iraq in 2004. Joe is also the Executive Director of the National Veteran’s Museum and he promotes jobs, education, and health programs for our veterans. I’m sure Joe Walsh (the rockstar) would appreciate the work that Mr. Cantafio does and when this is all over, perhaps he’d consider a donation to the Veteran’s Museum.

Joe had great fun doing this parody song of the political process. With so much negativity in politics, he thought — and I agreed — that it would be a wonderful breather to do something fun and positive for a change. I find it really funny that you’d let “leftist” Hollywood-think affect your enjoyment of our parody. But, to be honest, and I mean no disrespect, I am not in this race to win the approval of a Hollywood entertainment attorney. I realize that you all have fun with us in “fly over” country and must be having a good chuckle over the fact that I’m a “tea party” candidate ( I won’t repeat the term most of your Hollywood friends use). Well, here in the 8th District of Illinois, we have a whole bunch of us tea party folks — we’re actually Republicans, Independents, and quite a few Democrats who are pretty upset with the way our government is growing and the way our freedoms are eroding. I have to believe that even Joe Walsh (the rockstar) would agree with that sentiment.

A few other points: first, I am a political candidate, not a rock star (though always dreamed of being one). I have always been a big Eagles fan. In fact, the Eagles are my son’s (currently 22 years old) favorite rock band — he fell in love with Hotel California when he was ten years old. I thought our song was perfectly fine music and I actually don’t think you’re even close to correct on the law. Copyright laws protect expression, they don’t protect ideas. The lyrics for the song were entirely ours, and that included everything that was said in the video, not just sung.

We are not making any money off of the video, are not taking any money away from Joe Walsh (the rockstar), the lyrics are distinct, and another band recorded this video. Anyone can do a “cover” of the song. By the way, if you were actually considering a lawsuit, you probably want to be suing Joe Cantafio separately and equally, but be careful on that one, Joe is more outspoken than I am.

This video is a parody, protected by the Supreme Court.

Your reference to the Jackson Browne/John McCain dust-up up is silly. Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, 510 U.S. 569 (1994) was a US Supreme Court case that clearly established that a commercial parody can qualify as fair use. What you obviously missed in the Jackson Browne case is that Sen John McCain was using the actual recording of Jackson Browne unedited as a campaign song. Here, we are using the Karaoke version of a song, with our own lyrics, that even viewed in the most favorable light by your side is clearly parody, and hence, protected.

Peter, I have to say that I’m surprised you and Joe Walsh (the rockstar) even made an issue of this. I encourage you and everyone else who is learning about this in the media (because, again, that’s where we first learned of it!) should go watch the video and determine for yourself what it’s all about. I must admit, I’m beginning to think that because I’ve been out there for a few months as a “tea party conservative” candidate, all you liberals out in Hollywood are using this to attack someone whose beliefs you don’t understand and always disrespect (can you say Sarah Palin?). I hope the Democratic National Committee and Nancy Pelosi didn’t put you up to this. As the frontrunner to take on Nancy’s Democrat Incumbent Melissa Bean this year, I wonder if I’m a threat to a whole bunch of liberal interests here who want to take down a tea party candidate. With what happened in Massachusetts last week with Scott Brown’s big upset, the tide is turning.

Peter, this tea party movement is made up of great patriotic folks who really do believe we’re losing what makes this country great and we’re robbing our kids and our grandkids of their futures if we don’t stop and reverse this immoral government spending path we’re on. The movement is growing, and it’s not at all the fringe element your friends in the media portray it to be. It’s going to have a real impact on our elections this year — which is a good thing. I don’t mean any disrespect, but I do trust the folks of Illinois 8th District much more than I trust an attorney from Hollywood.

Lastly, please convey the following message directly from me, Joe Walsh (the candidate) to Joe Walsh (the rockstar). This is all about freedom. Joe Walsh (the rockstar) has been a big proponent of freedom his whole life. I hope you’re not going to sue my parents for giving me the name they did. This is the United States of America, where we’re free to express ourselves however we want — especially when it comes to politics. Political satire and parody are staples of our culture. I intend to go to Washington to ensure that all Americans enjoy these freedoms that both Joe Walshes have enjoyed all of our lives. I’ve always been a fan of Joe’s (the rockstar) and would actually enjoy sitting down with him sometime soon over a beer and hashing this thing out.

Assuming he still believes in freedom, I’m hoping he’d be open to something like that. But if I have to fight and take a stand here, I will. I’m not going to just sit back and be attacked for my “tea party conservative” political beliefs. I share those beliefs with too many folks around here so that’s an attack on a whole bunch of us.


Joe Walsh
(the Candidate)

You can view the video on You Tube.

Copyright Publius Forum 2001