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Today In "Rep. Joe Walsh Says Stupid Things:" Double Amputee Veteran Duckworth Talks Too Much About Her Military Service

By Chuck Sudo in News on Jul 5, 2012 1:50PM

Illinois Rep. Joe Walsh (left) and his Democratic opponent, Tammy Duckworth. (Official photos)

Illinois Eighth District Rep. Joe Walsh set off another round of verbal fireworks around the Independence Day Holiday when he suggested his Democratic opponent Tammy Duckworth campaigns too much on her military service.

Walsh was recorded at yet another town hall meeting getting a good taste of his foot when he compared Duckworth's mentions of her military service to Arizona Sen. John McCain's during his 2008 presidential campaign.

Understand something about John McCain. His political advisers, day after day, had to take him and almost throw him against a wall and hit him against the head and say, “Senator, you have to let people know you served! You have to talk about what you did!” He didn’t want to do it, wouldn’t do it. Day after day they had to convince him. Finally, he talked a little bit about it, but it was very uncomfortable for him. That’s what’s so noble about our heroes. Now I’m running against a woman who, my God, that’s all she talks about. Our true heroes, it’s the last thing in the world they talk about. That’s why we’re so indebted and in awe of what they’ve done.

Duckworth entered the Army Reserve in 1992 and chose to be a helicopter pilot because there were few combat roles open to women. She lost both of her legs when her helicopter was hit by rocket fire from Iraqi insurgents during the Iraq War, was awarded a Purple Heart, unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2006 and has spent the past six years working for the rights of injured veterans, first as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs and later as assistant secretary of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs in the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Walsh's comments about McCain's reticence to use his military service as a campaign tool don't hold water. As Slate's Dave Weigel noted, McCain used his time as a prisoner of war as an example of his character as far back as his 1982 run for the House of Representatives when he told an opponent who tried to smear him as a carpetbagger, "The place I lived the longest was Hanoi!"

Duckworth's campaign released a statement Tuesday that said Walsh's comments "insult those who sacrificed to make this country free" and called him "an extremist loudmouth for the tea party."

Walsh backtracked his statements somewhat yesterday. In an appearance on CNN's The Situation Room Wednesday Walsh said Duckworth is a hero, and that demands our respect, but it doesn't demand our vote. All she does, guys, is talk about her service."

Walsh reiterated that Duckworth gives voters a limited view into her campaign positions. (When simply running against Walsh is enough for some voters.)

"(Other veterans) don't throw it in your face," he said. "They at least can move beyond that and tell you why they want to be a congressman or woman."

Using Walsh's logic we can say that everyone's a parent, but being sued by one's ex-wife for over $100,000 in child support doesn't make one a "true parent."