Monday, December 26, 2005


To anyone paying attention, the method of Duckworth's entry into the IL-06 race is pretty obvious and Rahm's reason for touting her as a strong candidate pretty transparent. From Dennis Byrne's column in today's Chicago Tribune:
Speaking of being bought by the insider crowd, we come to Tammy Duckworth. She has entered the Democratic west suburban 6th District congressional race as a protege of liberal U.S. Rep. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) Emanuel heads the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which means he has a lot of money to buy candidates and their support.


Emanuel has committed a bankroll to install Duckworth as the candidate of the party apparatus, even though she is a political novice who lives outside the district and whose political positions have been a mystery. So why would Emanuel run such a political nullity, when a proven candidate is available?

Because she is a war hero. Duckworth was an Illinois Army National Guard helicopter pilot who became an amputee in a crash in Iraq. Emanuel already has trotted her out as "evidence" that Democrats are patriotic and sympathetic with the military. And to inoculate Democrats against the (correct) perception that they're weak on the war against terror. Not surprisingly, her campaign was launched by media toadies, including ABC's George Stephanopoulos, who gave her undeserved exposure on his Sunday TV talk show. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that George and Rahm worked together for the Clinton White House.

Using her honorable service in this way is breathtakingly cynical, even for someone as practiced as Emanuel. Even in something as squalid as Illinois politics.

I'd say this is a mild preview of how Roskam would attack Duckworth as a challenger. Her very strong suit of being a disabled Iraq vet will be turned from a strength to liability by focusing the debate on questions over her residency, charges of being controlled by Chicago Democrats, and Emanuel's constant 'look at the war hero' press focus.

If the cynicism displayed by Emanuel and his "figthing Dems" narrative is already this transparent to both the right and the left, I wonder about the wisdom of playing so obviously in the Republican "Democrats as weak" frame. In trying so overtly to prove Democrats are not the wimps Republicans say we are, do we prove their point by saying "am not!" a bit too loudly. Doth the congressman protest too much?