Patriotism tends to run high around Independence Day. Flags wave, people are sporting red, white and blue, and it seems like nearly everyone suddenly has a little Sousa in their step.
But while most of us are thinking fireworks and hotdogs, politicians are in their best glad-handing mode, marching in parades, making speeches and shoring up their votes. Which makes it a really odd time for Illinois Representative Joe Walsh to once more attack his opponent, former Iraq war veteran Tammy Duckworth, by saying she’s not a “true hero” like others in the military.
Duckworth, who lost both legs while serving in Iraq, has been spending too much time talking about her time in the military, Walsh complained at a Sunday event. “Now I’m running against a woman who, I mean, my God — that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, the men and women who served us, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about.”
VoteVets, a non-partisan PAC that supports veterans issues, took offense at the comments, and especially their timing. In a statement to Think Progress, VoteVets said:
“Telling a veteran to shut up on the 4th of July is beyond the pale. We are past the point of calling on Joe Walsh to apologize. He should step aside and and stop embarrassing his district and America.”
Walsh isn’t daunted, and has continued to criticize Duckworth even in his half-hearted apology.
“Of course Tammy Duckworth is a hero. I have called her a hero 100′s of times in the past four months. Just like every man and woman who has worn the uniform, her service demands – demands – our utmost respect. That’s why I recognize our veterans at the beginning of every one of my public town halls. However, unlike most veterans I have had the honor to meet since my election to Congress, who rarely if ever talk about their service or the combat they’ve seen, that is darn near all of what Tammy Duckworth talks about. Her service demands our thanks and respect, but not our vote.”
This is by no means the first time Walsh has dismissed Duckworth’s military record. In April, Walsh had to apologize after belittling Duckworth during an interview with Politico.
“I have so much respect for what she did in the fact that she sacrificed her body for this country,” said Walsh, simultaneously lowering his voice as he leaned forward before pausing for dramatic effect. “Ehhh. Now let’s move on.”
“What else has she done? Female, wounded veteran … ehhh,” he continued. “She is nothing more than a handpicked Washington bureaucrat. David Axelrod, Rahm Emanuel just picked her up and dropped her into this district.”
Walsh is a freshman Republican in the Illinois 8th district. His district has now been redrawn and is considered to lean Democratic in 2012.