Sunday, November 27, 2005

Duckworth's Media Covergence a Coincidence?

So the DCCC's new line is to play in the Republican frame of "Democrats are weak on defense" by running Iraq vets in house races. As we've heard, Army Maj. Ladda “Tammy” Duckworth has been recruited by Rahm Emmanuel, head of the DCCC to undermine the Cegelis campaign. But Ms. Duckworth has not declared that she will run yet. But you'd never know this by media she is "randomly" getting all of a sudden. First there's the Daily Herald article today that reads with all the imagery needed to fill the "war hero" candidate mold:
Unsure whether anyone else in the Black Hawk was alive, she knew she had to try to land the aircraft. She urged her phantom legs to push the pedals but the helicopter did not respond.

Smoke filled the cockpit as the helicopter made a rapid descent. It shook violently, as if it were going to break into a million pieces.

Running out of options, Duckworth tried to autorotate the aircraft, a move similar to putting a manual car into neutral. She still doesn’t know if it helped.

She kept trying, letting her instincts decide which action to take next. She didn’t know that in the seat next her, Milberg, uninjured and the pilot in command, had taken control of the aircraft.

He brought the Black Hawk down in a field less than a half mile from the attack site. Duckworth saw grass poking through the helicopter floor.

What a bright shade of green, she remembers thinking.

She reached up to turn off the helicopter blades and promptly lost consciousness.

I don't know about you, but it sure sounds like she's a candidate with a publicist to me rather than a recovering war vet. I mean, isn't it a coincidence that a local paper like the Herald would go all the way out to Walter Reed the same week Newsweek runs an article featuring Duckworth prominently in the lead:
She was a senator's guest at the State of the Union and a witness before a congressional hearing on health care for war casualties. As Veterans Affairs Secretary Jim Nicholson put it, she was simply "a true American hero.

She could have stayed a trophy veteran. But as Major Duckworth met with Democratic members of Congress, she talked about how she viewed politics as an extension of her service. One summer's day she invited Rahm Emanuel, the Democrats' master strategist in the House of Representatives, to the hospital to meet some recovering vets from their home state of Illinois. "We were walking down the hall and you could see the incredible response to her and her leadership," Emanuel told NEWSWEEK. "She goes to see other troops to keep their spirits up." Last week Duckworth returned home to Chicago's affluent suburbs to begin what looked like an unofficial campaign for the open congressional seat now held by retiring Republican Rep. Henry Hyde. Still on active duty, Duckworth cannot declare her candidacy or talk politics to the media. But according to Democratic leaders, she's their preferred candidate.

The last line there is key, considering the sudden interest in Duckworth by the media. But I don't think preferred is the right word. Look more like anointed to me. Duckworth may hav not declared her candidacy yet, as she is prohibited to do so on active duty. But that matters little to the DCCC here.

Undeclared candidates don't have coordinated media like this. Duckworth will have a turnkey campaign set up for her by the DCCC. They will line up their consultants for her campaign. They will have signatures gathered for her to get her on the ballot. They will use their money and connections to annoint her as the Democratic candidate for IL-06, and essentially buy the seat from the Beltway.

Besides the way I feel this is just wrong and undermines local politics, Newsweek sums up what really bothers me about this:
Despite the national Democrats' faith in these candidates, the hopefuls aren't shoo-ins at home. Some face resistance from local pols who see them as arrivistes jumping ahead in the political pecking order. While the national party leaders love Hackett, the state party leans toward Sherrod Brown, a seven-term congressman; the two will do battle in the primary next spring. In Illinois, Duckworth's emergence has dismayed supporters of Christine Cegelis, a software engineer who won a respectable 44 percent against Hyde last year. And some of the Democratic vets are more conservative than their party's base on crucial issues like abortion and gun rights, let alone how and when to wind down the U.S. presence in Iraq.
If the Democratic party is more concerned about looking tough by running vets in pre-packaged campaigns, what happens to Democratic values? How far to the right will the DCCC go in order to look tough? How far from the Democratic base will they go? And most importantly, how does a conservative pro-war Democratic candidate differentiate themselves from a conservative pro-war Republican?

Nope, that doesn't matter. A "war hero" is a package the DCCC can sell. But this is all just speculation right, as Duckworth has yet to declare her candidacy (wink, wink). I'm sure it's not a DCCC consultant or publicist at work here. Just a coincidence.