Poor Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh can't get no respect. Especially not from the nation's veterans. And certainly not on this 4th of July.
From Think Progress:
At a town hall on Sunday, Walsh blasted his Democratic opponent, Tammy
Duckworth, for having the temerity to note that she's spent two decades serving
in the military. Walsh dismissed Duckworth, an Iraq War vet who lost both her
legs in an RPG attack, as not a "true hero."
Vote Vets, a non-partisan PAC that supports veterans issues, condemned Walsh's comments in an exclusive statement to ThinkProgress. The veterans group wrote that "Telling a veteran to shut up on the 4th of July is beyond the pale." They called on Walsh to "step aside and and stop embarrassing his district and America."
Politics As Usual
The bottom line is that Duckworth is a staunch Democrat, pro-choice, and pro-gun control. An ardent critic of Bush's Iraq policies, Duckworth was given national attention for her speech at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. And while Walsh considers himself a ":moderate", his Tea Party roots belie any middle-of the road standing.
The Troubled 8th Congressional District
Chicagoland is still a union town, but with the northwestern suburbs have had identity problems of late: after it was redistricted from the 2010 census, the 8th Congressional district shows an area that voted for Bush in both elections, but flipped radically to Obama in 2008. Running primarily as a Tea Party candidate, Joe Walsh unseated Democratic incumbent Melissa Bean by a contentious 291 votes in 2010 (out of 209,000 votes cast). His ties to lobbists and super-pacs served him well: he was only able to spend less than a third of what Bean had spent on the campaign.
Since his election, Walsh has weathered being labeled a "deabeat dad" when his former wife sued him for over $100,000 in child support. The support of his former wife on the issue was ballyhooed as an end to it, but with his latest disparaging remarks against Duckworth, the sobriquet has resurfaced, indicating a very troubled campaign ahead.
The McCain Analogy
John McCain's record as a war hero and PWA may have helped propel him into politics, but he refused to capitalize on it. This is true...to a degree: whether or not he would have gotten as far in politics without it is speculative. Hero worship in this country is very big, and voting for a hero is always popular: Dwight D. Eisenhower built upon it in the same unassuming way. However, because of his WWII experiences, Eisenhower became a bit of a dove in later years, and McCain followed suit, promoting better diplomatic relations with North Viet Nam. All the while, however his appearances on the political scene served as a reminder that American heros, and vets always deserved the utmost deference.
Walsh's analogy, however, was misplaced: Duckworth's accomplishments in the military as well as in the position of Assistant Secretary for Public and Intergovernmental Affairs were stellar enough for the term "hero" and she did not mention them as often as Walsh noted. It might be interesting to note what John McCain's take on the matter is.
The End Of Walsh?
Walsh never served in the military. Walsh has not sufficiently weathered the "deadbeat dad" controversy. Walsh has pandered to lobbyists and Tea Party interests. If he actually wins the election, he will have a hard time convincing people that he did it on his own merits and not that of corporate groups.
He will also have a hard time whitewashing his campaign against a "true hero."