Sunday, December 18, 2005

Q&A with Tammy Duckworth?

Tammy Duckworth has announced, and the carefully orchestrated roll out of her campaign began this week. As part of that roll out, a media blitz with interviews of Duckworth were all over the papers. Here in IL-06, the Daily Herald had a Q&A interview with her. While it was obvious Duckworth has been media coached, it was equally obvious that she has a set list of talking points. Talking points she faithfully stuck to like glue, and in my opinion, to the point of not giving substantive answers.

First, the focus on Duckworth's long awaited views on Iraq (emphasis mine):
I think it was a mistake going to Iraq. I think that it was a bad decision based on poor intelligence. I think that we need better leadership to make the tough choices and come up with a plan to get our troops out of Iraq and bring them home. I don’t think the current administration has that plan right now.

[...]

We need to sit down, make the tough choices. Provide leadership, which is lacking right now, to come up with a program to turn control over to Iraqi forces so they can take over the job of protecting their own country so that American troops can come home. My job as a soldier was to answer the call, to serve my country and I’m proud of that service and I’m proud of my fellow soldiers. I think now we need somebody who can make tough choices. I want to be there to help make decisions so that we never ever send troops again into battle without a plan.

Reading this, I get errie flashbacks to the 2004 Presidential race. Isn't it President Bush's position that the intellegence was bad and that's why we went to war? Hasn't it been proven that the intelligence was manipulated and cherry picked enough by now?

Then notice the talking point she's hammering: strong leadership that makes tough choices. Isn't that Bush's line? He's the steadfast war president who provides strong leadership and makes tough choices? That choice of words is really troubling to me as a Democrat. Making tough choices is great, but in Congress she will not be surrounded by people who unquestioningly follow orders, nor will she be in a leadership position as a freshman Congressman.

On issues questions, she seems to avoid giving direct answers, instead giving vauge or canned answers like this one on abortion:
I think that most people in our district think it’s not the place of government to make that wrenching personal decision between a woman and her doctor. We need to increase the amount of information about adoption out there.

So, where does she stand on abortion? Does she support a women's right to choose? Would she vote to restrict a woman's right to choose? I don't want to hear what she thinks "most people in the district" think. I want to know how she will vote in these issues. She goes on to give similar answer on issues like gun control, Patriot Act renewal, tax cuts, or her health care priorities. I want to know specifics. I don't want to hear that she'll use "common sense" as we all know most people don't have the same definition of what common sense is. I want to know which parts of the Patriot Act she'd support. I want to know what she will do about the health care crisis, not that she's aware there is one. I want to know how she will vote.

Her answer on her residency insulted me:
Q. You’re entering a contested primary. One of the biggest charges Christine Cegelis supporters seem to be leveling so far is the word carpetbagger. You live just outside the district. Your response?

A. I’m not going to be dealing with labeling. I think this election is about the issues and the values of the district. Hoffman Estates is divided into two (congressional) districts. My friends and my husband have worked for a couple computer companies in the district, so I understand what’s important to voters in this district.

I agree that "carpetbagger" is wrong, and a label we can do without in this primary. But to claim you understand what's important for the district because your "friends and my husband have worked for a couple computer companies in the district" is just ridiculous. I have a couple friends who work - present not past tense - in Evanston. Does that mean I understand what's important to Evanston residents? I don't think so.

I've noted this before: the location of Tammy Duckworth's house is not the issue here. It's her lack of life experience in the district that bothers me. She didn't grow up in the district. She didn't raise kids in the district. She hasn't worked in the district. She doesn't commute every day in the district. Her experience as a district resident is an issue.

This is just one interview. The 10-minute puff piece on "This Week" was not much better as far as depth goes. Ms. Duckworth has obvious charisma, but the media coaching showed through to me. I want to know where she stands, not that she'll be guided by common sense or by what she thinks residents of the district that she has little in common with think. I want to know how she'll vote. So far she hasn't shown me.