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Swiftboating Tammy Duckworth -- Joe Walsh Digs a Deeper Hole

By Jon Soltz  |  Huffington Post  |  View story in the original context
PUBLISHED: April 03, 2012

Last week, Congressman Joe Walsh denigrated the years of service his opponent, Tammy Duckworth, has given this nation. It was a new low for the guy who is a dead-beat dad.

In an interview with Politico, Rep. Walsh said of Duckworth, "What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran ... ehhh.... She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat. David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel just picked her up and dropped her into this district."

He was called out for this remarks by VoteVets.org, which has endorsed Duckworth. In a statement, I said that it wasn't that he was insulting a woman who literally gave her limbs in service to America, but that he completely dismissed her years of service to America after serving in war.

"If you think working for America's veterans at the VA both in Washington and Illinois is nothing, if you think working to improve the economic lives of veterans is nothing, then Joe Walsh's record is below nothing. He represents the do-nothing, obstructionist, extreme Tea Party wing of the GOP, not the values that Tammy stood up for," my statement read.

VoteVets even started a fundraising campaign, in light of the comments. Our page now has over $17,000 raised for Duckworth. You'd think that would get Walsh to back off.

Well, yesterday, Joe Walsh doubled-down on his comments about Tammy. In a statement released by his campaign, Walsh said, "I will also reiterate what I said last week, which was that I, and people of the 8th district, want to know what Tammy has done in addition to her service, and where she stands on the issues. Wearing the uniform should immediately earn everyone's respect. It should not, however, earn everyone's vote."

What else has she done? Either Joe Walsh doesn't know anything about Tammy Duckworth (which I don't think is the case), or he's out to denigrate the hard work Tammy has done for veterans since returning home.

Tammy Duckworth helped establish the Intrepid Foundation, to help her fellow wounded veterans.

In 2006, she was appointed the head of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs, where she:

  • Established first Veterans Caucus for the Illinois General Assembly
  • Created a tax credit for Illinois businesses who hire OEF/OIF/Desert Storm Veterans. Hundreds of Veterans have been hired throughout the state with this tax credit.
  • Started up a 24-hour crisis hotline for Veterans. It was the first in the nation -- even the federal VA was not offering the service 24-hours-a-day at that point.
  • Created the Vets Cash grant program that has given out over $10 million in grants including critical support to establish the John Marshall Law School's Veterans Assistance Legal clinic and the Midwest Shelter for homeless Veterans.
  • Established the nation's first state health insurance program for Vets
  • Created the GI Loan for Heroes program that Distributed over $30 million in homeloans from state or IL.


In 2009, she was brought into the Department of Veterans Affairs on the Federal level, as Assistant Secretary. There, she:

  • Asked to serve as lead on the President's initiative to eliminate homelessness among Veterans. That required working with agencies throughout the government from the Pentagon, to HHS, to HUD, to Departments of Education and Labor. Her work led to not only the first-ever accurate accounting of the number of homeless Veterans but cut the number of them significantly.
  • Created the Office of Online Communications to enhance and coordinate VA's social media outreach to the Veteran community. In this age of younger veterans, an effective online outreach program is essential -- and Tammy created it at the VA.
  • Created office of Tribal Government relations, to help bring services to Native American Veterans isolated on tribal lands.
  • Was asked to be the top official on the White House Initiative on Asian American and Pacific Islanders -- especially concerned with bullying issues.

So, Tammy's record in and out of government is significant. Joe Walsh knows this. He has to know this. It's why he's running so scared from Tammy, and dismissing her service, and trying to pretend that her service ended when she came home from war.

But, like I said before, if the record above is insignificant, then Joe Walsh is beneath insignificant. He's stood lockstep with the Tea Party wing of the GOP, which has done absolutely nothing to improve the lives of Americans, or boost the economy. And, what's worse, that wing of the party is responsible for the Paul Ryan budget, which would cut VA funding by $11 billion dollars and end Medicare, which so many wounded veterans rely on for their primary care.

Given that, it's no wonder Joe Walsh would rather attack a wounded veteran than stand up for his own record.

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