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Tammy Duckworth Earns Raves For DNC Speech; Rahm Applauds Unions As He Tries To Bust One At Home

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

Tammy Duckworth
Illinois politicians stood out in what was a strong night of speeches at the Democratic National Convention Tuesday night, capped by a powerful speech by First Lady Michelle Obama.

Tammy Duckworth, running for Congress in Illinois’ 8th Congressional District against incumbent Joe Walsh, provided some early sparks by recounting her story of how she lost both of her legs and severely damaged her right arm during combat operations in Iraq to a national audience. Duckworth’s touting of her military service has been a point of contention for Walsh, who has repeatedly accused her of falling back on it in her campaign. Somewhere in IL-8 we imagined Walsh sitting in a dark room, pulling his hair out, pounding back coffee by the pot and cursing at a television screen as Duckworth’s words and appearance cast her as a sympathetic figure.

Indeed, it would have been extremely hard, if not impossible, for the right to criticize a female war hero who relied on prosthetic legs and a cane to get about the stage. For a night, at least, they refrained from doing so and applauded Duckworth for her service.

Prior to Duckworth taking the stage, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn criticized Republicans for playing fast and loose with facts. Quoting John Adams, who famously said "facts are stubborn things," Quinn used his nearly seven minutes on stage to pick apart many of the claims made at the Republican National Convention last week.

Then there was Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who called President Obama a "once in a generation president." Emanuel, his voice cracking like Peter Brady entering puberty, listed the achievements of Obama's first term and, notably, spoke of the importance of listening to labor unions in bailing out the auto industry, the highest of ironies given how he's trying to bust the Chicago Teachers Union at home. "Unions are great, as long as they aren't teaching your kids."

The speech didn't fly well with Esquire's Charlie Pierce.

So to hell with all of you squalling hippies. Rahm was in the room, beeyotches. He was there when the president "made the right choice" on the auto industry, so forget Rattner's book where he's quoted as saying, "Fuck the UAW." (Rahm says "fuck" a lot. He likes to make waitresses cry.) He was there when "the president fought for the American Recovery Act — to cut taxes for the middle class, to put people to work building America's roads, rails and runways," so forget Lizza's story when he is said to have responded to Christina Romer's suggestion for a a larger American Recovery Act by asking Romer, an accomplished economist and not a political button-man, "What are you smoking?" And, of course, he was there when the president "worked to put accountability into our children's schools.... He was willing to demand change and embrace reform. The president never changed his views to suit the moment or the audience," so shut the hell up, Miss Grundy, and get back to your blackboard.

The man can take credit, I'll give him that. He can grab credit by the throat and shake it until it cries for mercy. After the Democratic wave election in 2006, which was almost entirely the result of a strategy laid out by Howard Dean that Emanuel spent three years flat deriding, he got all the credit from the Beltway wise guys — probably, none of them wanted Rahm to say, "Fuck" at them a lot — while Dean got shuffled out the door at the DNC. Last night, it was Rahm and the president, standing alone, facing down a dozen crises and the timidity of lesser men. I think he should have slid down to the podium on a Batpole.