Rep. Joe Walsh, Tea Party-Ill., is the most famous freshman in the House of Representatives. And when he leaves office, at the end of that year, he will have bequeathed that fame to his successor, Tammy Duckworth.
Duckworth recently sent out this fundraising e-mail:
Bottom line: I don’t care what Joe Walsh says about me. I do care though what he says about our nation’s 23 million Veterans. At a time when we have so many brave servicemen and women coming home from war, it’s irresponsible of Joe Walsh to try to silence Veterans by insinuating that you’re not a hero if you talk about your service.
We need to make sure that our Veterans who are suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder talk about their experiences and reach out for help. We need to encourage returning Veterans to talk about the leadership skills they learned that will make them better civilian employees.
Bottom line: Duckworth does care, and she should care, because the more Walsh insults her, the more publicity she gets. Duckworth, whose war wounds already gave her one of the best-known biographies of any congressional challenger this year, became a liberal idol after Walsh said she was not a “true hero” because she talks about her combat record. After that attack, Duckworth received thousands of dollars from contributors across the country.
Tuesday night, Duckworth was interviewed on CNN’s Piers Morgan Tonight, an invitation she would not have received if Walsh had treated her with civility. Morgan told Duckworth her military service is “commendable.”
“I don’t mind if he attacks me personally,” Duckworth told Morgan. “But when he says a veteran is not a true hero if they speak about their military service he’s now discouraging 23 million veterans across this great nation from speaking about their service at a time when young vets coming home need to be talking about the leadership skills they developed in the military. His attacks on me is going to be affecting other veterans, and that's very irresponsible in a sitting congressman.”
Duckworth will enter Congress a celebrity. That means she’ll be a fundraising draw for other Democrats, which will allow her to collect political chits she can use to pass bills and lobby for prestigious committee assignment. Duckworth will also be in demand as a speaker before veterans’ groups.
(He even did his opponent a favor by being named Joe Walsh. Duckworth’s fundraiser with the eponymous rock star was written up in Rolling Stone.)
So instead of criticizing Walsh for the intemperate speeches he’s given during his year-and-a-half in Congress, the voters of the 8th District may want to thank him: the result of his verbal diarrhea will be a much more powerful, much more respected representative than Walsh could ever be.