Wednesday, July 04, 2012

Asshole extraordinaire Joe Walsh says double amputee Iraq War vet Tammy Duckworth isn't a "true hero"

A few weeks ago, Richard wrote that Illinois Republican Rep. Joe Walsh could be President Obama's secret weapon, suggesting that the president's team "follow [him] around with a camera and record whatever he says. Just wait until Walsh says something offensive and stupid, which won't take long, and hit the record button. They should then run the clips in a continuous loop in those communities Walsh has offended."

Well, how about offending the military, the day before July Fourth, and, well, pretty much offending everyone?

Though he never joined the military himself, Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) disparaged his Democratic opponent's military service at a town hall on Sunday, saying that she's not a "true hero."

Walsh is running against Tammy Duckworth, a double amputee who lost both her legs in Iraq when insurgents hit her helicopter with an RPG in 2004.

The Tea Party freshman opened the Elk Grove town hall by arguing that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) was reluctant to discuss his own military service in 2008, which made him a "noble hero." By contrast, "Now I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about," Walsh said.

Let's put that more starkly:

Joe Walsh is a Tea Party Republican who, when acting didn't work out, embarked on a career in extremist right-wing politics. His ex-wife sued him for child support and he has come under scrutiny for various ethics violations.

Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq War veteran, was an Army helicopter pilot who lost both her legs in combat. She has been the Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and the director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. She is married to a fellow Iraq War vet and serves as a lieutenant colonel in the Illinois Army National Guard.

Yes, that's right, the armchair conservative extremist is saying the double amputee Iraq War vet isn't a "true hero." As if he has any fucking clue what heroism is, true or not.

And this isn't the first time this has come up. Back in March, Walsh told Politico: "What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran... ehhh." As if somehow that isn't enough. As if she hasn't followed up her time in the military, where she put her life on the line for her country, with public service in support of her fellow vets. You have to be some kind of reprehensible asshole to try to score political points this way.

(And consider the hypocrisy. Remember when Republicans went ballistic on Chris Hayes for even suggesting, in a thoughtful, self-critical way, that the word "heroism" is used in problematic ways?)

And it's not just Walsh. What his attack on Duckworth exposes, once more, is the general Republican use of the military as a convenient political prop. Republicans always say they support the troops, and are hence sufficiently patriotic, the implication being that Democrats don't, and aren't. Republicans always wave the flag to try to convince us of their love of country, the implication being that Democrats are anti-American (especially since a black man with an exotic past took the White House).

As guest blogger Rob Diamond wrote here a couple of years ago: "Republicans love to stand in front of the military. It is about time they try and stand behind us as well."

But they don't, and won't. To them, the military, vets and active servicemen and -women alike, is an exploitable tool with which to bludgeon Democrats, and the American people generally, even going so far, as we have seen so many times, as to put America's men and women in uniform, those who have volunteered for their country, in harm's way for political gain.

There's no respect there, nothing genuine, nothing sincere. If there were, do you think a chickenhawk idiot like Jow Walsh would actually ridicule the service of someone as noble, as courageous, as heroic as Tammy Duckworth?


Remember this when Republicans try to bludgeon you today, and throughout the campaign this year, as always.

Happy Fourth of July.

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  • Consider the proposition that if Hayes was right so is Walsh.

    Affirm or deny.

    Give your reasons.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 10:57 AM  

  • I take your point, but the two are very different.

    Walsh wasn't engaging in a thoughtful discussion of the meaning of, and use of, "heroism," he was attacking, and blatantly disrespecting, Duckworth, perhaps because he's done nothing in his life that can compare to the sacrifices she made for her country.

    Hayes, on the other hand, made sure to stress that his intention wasn't to disrespect the man and women who have served, or are still serving, their country. He just suggested the word "heroism" is used too broadly and can be used to justify war.

    By Blogger Michael J.W. Stickings, at 11:16 PM  

  • Michael, here's a "yes, but" right back at you.

    True enough, Walsh was dissing her personally and that is right in keeping with the gutter style of a Republican Party in which senators scream out "You lie!" at a Democratic president giving a speech.

    But I don't see how you can agree with Hayes' that endless reflexive praise for people who have served (and I have served) functions as propaganda for militarism and an uncritical attitide toward American wars and not see that Walsh makes a valid point, despite his real intentions.

    And part of the problem does involve calling people "heroes" who did nothing more heroic than show up or, in the present case, show up and get horribly wounded.

    I didn't like it 4 years ago when Democrats couldn't heap enough praise on Jim Webb and I don't like it now.

    I didn't like it 4 years ago when the media constantly sucked up to John McCain and Tweety actually said out loud that because of his time in the Hanoi Hilton McCain actually deserved to be president.

    I just don't want the Democratic Party to be another jingoist, blindly militarist war party.

    I have a real problem with that, and have found the Democrats' military globalism a repugnant disappointment since I was old enough to deplore Kennedy for being a Cold War blowhard.

    That's all.

    No offense intended.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 12:32 PM  

  • I think there's something of a difference between Chris Hayes suggesting that joining the military isn't a sufficient condition for heroism and a Tea Party nut suggesting a woman who's earned a various merits & has served veterans after battle isn't a "hero".

    Tammy Duckworth went above and beyond just doing her job. She deserves to be called a hero.

    By Blogger Unknown, at 5:28 PM  

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