Once a person serves his country in the military, particularly in combat, that person rightly earns the respect and appreciation of a grateful nation. When we see military personnel in uniform – at church, at the airport, at the mall – we thank them for their service in person. We write letters to the editor, we donate to veterans’ groups, we call our legislators on behalf of their issues.
The American people love and respect our servicemen, not only while they serve, but forever after, particularly those who bear the scars of war for life, carrying the wounds of bullet, blade, or shrapnel with them. We honor these heroes, and it takes a great deal for decent Americans to be willing to reevaluate that esteem.
But sometimes it must be done.
John Kerry served in Vietnam for about four months; he was even granted a Silver Star, a Bronze Star, and three Purple Hearts for his injuries. Americans were so conflicted about the Vietnam theater, so horrified by the stories of the dreadful conditions that they naturally gave him the benefit of the doubt, trying desperately to see his side of the story, even when he had publicly thrown medals over the fence of the White House lawn, even when he had given shameful, lying testimony before Congress about alleged war crimes that he had made up out of whole cloth. Only with the scrutiny of a presidential campaign in 2004 did a concerned public think back and seriously question for the first time how indeed this odd man had “earned” so many medals in so very short a time.
Veteran Rep. Randy Cunningham was caught taking bribes to support defense contractors, WWII vet Spiro Agnew even lost the vice presidency over bribes from his days as a governor. Every time we hear something negative about such a leader, we set a higher bar to be convinced, before we allow our white knight to be knocked off his horse.
We always start out by putting our servicemen on a pedestal; we give them chance after chance, wait for proof after proof, before we consider the possibility that perhaps they don’t deserve that pedestal after all. We want to give our heroes the benefit of the doubt. We desperately try to avoid being unfair to someone who has risked life and limb for our beloved nation.
Tammy Duckworth is a veteran of the middle east theater. She lost both legs in the service, and now walks on prosthetic limbs. The constant, visual reminder of this awful injury has given the voters of Illinois pause in evaluating her positions. It’s difficult to view a candidate with objectivity and cold analysis, when the reminder of her war injuries in service to your shared country stares you in the face during every appearance. Even if she didn’t ask for it, she’d get instinctive special treatment just because of those injuries.
She presents a very different case than the other examples above; no one questions her patriotism or the reality of her war injuries. The damaged arm and the prosthetic legs are testament to the seriousness of her commitment to service in the military.
But her conduct outside the military is another matter. Impeached Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich appointed her to spend two years as Director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, and President Barack Obama appointed her to a similar two year stint as Assistant Secretary of the federal Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
In her campaigns for office, however, she has left the path of honor far too often, choosing to join with her extremist party in the most radical of positions, even to the point of joining in the lies against Republicans that have become commonplace for the modern American left.
For example, Duckworth makes a big deal of opposing so-called “subsidies” for the high tax-paying oil and gas industry, while supporting the administration that gives billions in taxpayer-funded subsidies to the bankruptcy-factories known as “green energy.”
She plays in the same sandbox as Obama and Biden on class warfare rants, calling for the so-called “Buffett Rule” that even liberal Warren Buffett doesn’t support – a tax grab that would drive employment out of this country as fast as any other policy the Democrats have dreamed up.
Duckworth has even doubled down on the health insurance debate. She not only supported Obamacare, but she has bemoaned the fact that the massive taxation and regulation orgy known formally as the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” doesn’t go far enough, and she has called for a complete transition to nationalized healthcare.
She calls for expansion of the very same federal college funding programs that have enabled America’s money-hungry colleges to raise their tuitions at two, three, even four times the rate of inflation, demonstrating for all to see that her policy stances are either borne of sheer political calculation or of utter ignorance, but most certainly, not of any understanding of economics, public policy, or human nature.
Her most recent shock, however, the one that finally has her district horrified enough to stop giving her the benefit of the doubt at last, is a repulsive attack on her current opponent, Congressman Joe Walsh, in a televised joint appearance on October 18.
Incumbent Congressman Walsh is pro-life, while Duckworth is an unrestricted supporter of taxpayer-funded abortion-on-demand. And yet, fearing that she might be losing yet another race due to the Republican tide that the Obama administration has inspired, she went overboard in a manner that exceeds all standards of decorum.
On camera and audiotape, so that she couldn’t possibly be misquoted, Tammy Duckworth declared that Congressman Walsh would rather see a woman die than have an abortion, as if the much-discussed but statistically insignificant “life of the mother” exception to abortions was a legitimate issue for their Congressional campaign.
In fact, of course, Congressman Walsh has said no such thing, and has in fact clearly stated that his position is to be pro-life: both pro-life for the mother and pro-life for the unborn child. He points out how incredibly rarely the “life of the mother” exception really occurs, and how it’s a typical tactic of the left to use this near non-issue as a way to unfairly paint pro-life Republicans as somehow extreme.
Any careful study of Ms. Duckworth’s record demonstrates that she is the extremist on the issue, not Walsh. Duckworth has been supported heavily by the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Emily’s List, the two most important pro-abortion political lobbies after the Democratic Party itself. And no wonder, considering:
- Duckworth supports unrestricted legal abortion at any time, for any reason, throughout the entire nine months of pregnancy, right up to and including the moment of birth (a.k.a. “partial birth abortion”).
- Duckworth supports taxpayer-funding of abortions.
- Duckworth supports a mandate that all insurance companies must provide abortions and abortion-causing drugs such as RU-486, rather than allowing people the choice to choose companies that do not.
- Incredibly, Duckworth even supports the horrendous attack on American religious freedom inherent in the PPACA’s refusal to grant exceptions to religious and moral organizations. Think of it: an adoption charity that opposes abortion must by law provide insurance plans that cover abortion to its employees!
The American people are certainly not unanimous on their position on the abortion issue. It is a complex issue, but some near unanimity can certainly be identified. Every honest poll indicates that most Americans strongly oppose the horror of partial-birth abortion, and in fact most American support restricting abortion after the child reaches viability outside the womb. Most Americans – even those who call themselves pro-choice – agree that taxpayer-funding of abortion goes too far, and support such reasonable bans on the coercive use of tax dollars to fund the practice. And without question, the vast majority of Americans support the right of churches, schools, charities, and other religious organizations to be exempt from participation in abortion funding as a part of their healthcare policies.
In short, Tammy Duckworth is the extremist. In her quest to remain the darling of the Democratic Party and the favorite of the cash-rich abortion lobby, Duckworth remains in lockstep with the purveyors of abortion-on-demand on every issue.
They tell her to oppose all restrictions on abortion, no matter how reasonable? Fine with her. They want to force all insurance companies to be required to cover it, by law? She has no problem with that at all. They demand that the government pay for it with your tax dollars? Why should she oppose it; she favors the government paying for all medical services with your tax dollars – that’s what nationalized healthcare is all about.
So even though Tammy Duckworth is clearly the extremist on abortion issues, she has the audacity to paint her mainstream, reasonable opponent, Joe Walsh as the extremist instead. The eighth district is reeling with the quote, as it gets passed on from neighbor to neighbor in disgust. “He would rather let a woman DIE!!!” she claimed. Outrageous.
The voters looked the other way when she was accused of tax errors; we all know that tax laws can be tricky. We gave her the benefit of the doubt when she was accused of violating campaign finance laws and mismanagement in her government offices; such things are confusing, and could easily be exaggerations or judgment calls, blown out of proportion for political purposes.
But now we have a quote, on tape. A woman accusing her opponent of preferring to see a woman in trouble die, rather than see her get needed medical care. This isn’t just the twisting of a political position; it’s a nasty and unacceptable attack. It simply goes too far, by any measure.
Many have given her the benefit of the doubt for too long; compassion for her injuries has caused good people to give her chance after chance, even as she proved that she is no match for the Midwestern district of heartland values that she hopes to represent in Congress.
No more. We still respect her for her service in the war; we would never dream of denying her the ongoing medical care and pension that she earned in Iraq. But the public has seen how she campaigns, and has not been pleased.
Voters always fear that the worst will occur – that they’ll elect a good, decent neighbor to office, and upon moving to Washington, he or she will “go native,” losing those heartland values and turning into just another unprincipled pol.
We’ve seen that Joe Walsh has the ability to resist that pull; he’s stayed true to his district’s wishes, even refusing a congressman’s pension and healthcare plan so that he doesn’t get sucked into the Beltway fever.
But we’ve also seen that Tammy Duckworth has no such ability. Even before being elected, she became one of them, one of the big-government, tax-and-spend elitists who think they know what’s best for you, and they’ll give it to you, whether you want it or not. Even to the point of defaming the character of her opponent in order to win the race.
On the bright side – for yes, there IS a bright side – at least we found out now, before the election. So we can keep one more deceitful pol out of Congress.
Just a drop in the bucket, perhaps, but if the 8th District can do its part, perhaps we’ll see a little bit better of a future as a result. It’s just one out of 435, but better that one should get the role honestly than by smearing an opponent with character assassination and lies.
Copyright 2012 John F. Di Leo
John F. Di Leo is a Chicago based international trade compliance lecturer. A former chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party, he was redistricted into the new eighth district this year, and will proudly be voting for Joe Walsh on Election Day.
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