If you really want to have some fun, slide over to the Daily Kos, to see how this column sent eye-balls spinning among Duckworth's supporters on the far left. The response to the post by someone called Markg8 is precious. Now for my column:
Let's see, the reasons that you're supposed to vote for Democrat Tammy Duckworth and against Republican incumbent Joe Walsh in the northwest suburban 8th Congressional District are: He's a radical, "anti-choice," loudmouthed, wing-nut tea partyer. Do I have that about right?
In 2006, Duckworth was Emanuel's hand-picked Democratic candidate in the west suburban 6th Congressional District. Emanuel, then chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, sent his Chicago minions into the suburbs to campaign for Duckworth. It was a politically astute, if not cynical selection, figuring that an honored, wounded Iraq War veteran would be hard for those suburban GOP warmongers to resist.
It almost worked. She barely lost to Republican Peter Roskam. To assuage her loss, she was rewarded with choice patronage jobs: the corrupt Gov. Rod Blagojevich appointed her as director of the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs. Her name was floated as a successor for Barack Obama's vacated U.S. Senate seat, but when she failed to win Blago's nod, she won a consolation prize as an assistant secretary in Obama's Department of Veteran Affairs. (Go here to see Duckworth's role in the VA's biggest Hawaii boondoggle, something the Chicago media have eagerly avoided._
Now it was time to be repaid for her patience and loyalty, but party leaders knew she would get crushed in another run against Roskam, who has become one of the rising stars in the GOP-controlled House. So, Democratic mapmakers created a special congressional district for her, the gerrymandered 8th (Here, here,here, here), that runs from Chicago on theeast, to Elgin on the west, from Oak Brook on the south to Lake County on the north. (The 8th district map is here.)
If she doesn't win in this custom-made district, it's anyone's guess in what suburb she will pop up next, courtesy of Chicago Democrats.
Democratic strategy is to position Duckworth as independent and moderate to appeal to those suburban voters, while trying to portray Walsh as a lunatic.
If Walsh is extreme on abortion, then so is she. She has billed herself as pro-choice "without restriction," putting her in the same category as her Planned Parenthood supporters who rationalize the killing, for any reason, of near-term infants as they are extracted live from the birth canal. Like her rigidly doctrinaire allies, she opposes any parental involvement in their child's decision to have an abortion, a position that puts her at odds with the moderate, more popular view. She tried to walk back from her extremism by declaring that she supported the Supreme Court's "framework" on abortion, which is a difference without a distinction. That framework includes the court's Doe v. Bolton* decision, which enables any abortion at any time for any reason, including psychological.
Abortion is a red herring, dragged into the campaign by the radical left. The House has no power to veto Supreme Court nominees. No legislation codifying Walsh's position will ever emerge from the House. That's the political reality. But Walsh's position is not indefensible; it incorporates the principle of "double effect," which means attending physicians must do everything in their power to save both the mother and the child. (See his complete statement on my blog here. For a discussion of the priniciple of "double effect" go here. You may not agree, but at least you'll have an idea of the arguments nuances.)
Yes, Walsh is outspoken, sometimes exceedingly so, but considering the hearing impairment of lawmakers of both parties about the fiscal cliff America is hurtling toward, I welcome a Paul Revere in Washington.
Walsh argued his case reasonably and soberly in his joint appearance with Duckworth before the Tribune's editorial board. (The complete 70-minute debate is here.) The debate revealed an overcoached, wishy-washy and sometimes struggling Duckworth who tried as best as she could to cough up the Democratic Party's talking points. She was outclassed, and although the editorial board endorsed Duckworth, it had more good things to say about Walsh's performance during the endorsement session. In the appearance, she tried to emphasize her independence, by disagreeing with the party here and there, but her positions didn't seem as firmly anchored in conviction as they were in opportunism.
Her indebtedness to chief hacks of the Democratic Party stands out for all to see. Suburbanites who live where they do because they want to be free of the Chicago Way and its practitioners need to think what they'd be getting themselves into before they vote for her.
This is the Chicago Tribune's regular Tuesday op-ed column. More reader comments can be found there.
*The court's grant of an unfettered right to an abortion is contained in these words from Doe V. Bolton:
Whether, in the words of the Georgia statute, "an abortion is necessary" is a professional judgment that the Georgia physician will be called upon to make routinely. We agree with the District Court, 319 F. Supp., at 1058, that the medical judgment may be exercised in the light of all factors - physical, emotional, psychological, familial, and the woman's age - relevant to the well-being of the patient. All these factors may relate to health.