The GOP has a long and disgraceful history of disrespecting veterans who aren't Republicans--disrespecting their service, attacking their service records, repeating lies about them. I don't know when it started--but I do know that by the time I was finishing my own active duty, the GOP was both lying about Democratic candidates who were veterans and lying about the relative number of Democrats and Republicans serving in 'Nam. (There were more Democrats. The Republicans--as Phil Gramm said, as Newt Gingrich said--decided they were too valuable to the country to risk. So the Republicans with any pull--politicians' sons for instance--were largely found sheltered in those National Guard units whose governors weren't releasing them for service abroad--such as the Indiana Air National Guard, which was Dan Quayle's haven, and the Texas Air National Guard, which was George W. Bush's. Dan Quayle actually admitted he joined the Indiana Air National Guard because he didn't want to go to 'Nam--and he gets half an honor point from me for honesty, though it ticked off his GOP masters. )
But back then, when these conservative white boys were flag-waving for other people to serve and doing their best to evade service themselves (while sneering at 'draft dodgers', hypocritical infants that they were) the process of dissing Democrat veterans was gaining traction, and was soon in full swing. I was there. I saw it happen--both the draft-dodging of prominent conservatives, and the dissing of Democrats in and just out of the military. I saw what their vicious attacks did to Lewis Puller, a combat vet and amputee from service in 'Nam. I saw other Democratic candidates--military veterans--attacked with the same kind of sneering bile. Those attacks continued, and still continue, up to the present day. Republicans sneer at Presidents who have no military service record--but they attack Democrat politicians who do. Kerry and Gore, among the better known, but many others as well.
Remember earlier in this campaign, that debate among Republican candidates, when a soldier asked candidates their position on gays in the military and said he was gay? Republicans booed him. Booed a combat vet. Yeah, that's a lot of respect for the military, right there. Newt Gingrich flat out told gay military personnel to vote Democrat, because he wasn't going to do a damn thing for them. Once again, that's a lot of respect for military service, yes sirree bob. The Texas GOP's 2012 platform (which has many more faults than this, but this is pertinent here) asserts that gays should not be in the military, that it's against tradition (dudes...gays have been in the military in every war the U.S. has fought, and if you don't know that, you're just plain stupid.) Republicans have sneered at women in the military, hinting (in some cases) and flatly saying (in others) that women just aren't good enough, women can't do the job, women have these issues, etc.
So now we have a Republican Congressman from Illinois, a fellow by the name of Joe Walsh (a deadbeat dad, too, just to put icing on this lily-white cupcake of a man), who is not a combat vet, or a vet of any kind...who apparently thought himself too good, too valuable, to risk his pretty pink backside in a uniform, right out there in public dissing the service of a 20+ year veteran combat vet, his opponent who's a double amputee from a combat injury (she was a helicopter pilot whose chopper was hit by an RPG), saying she's not a "true hero" because--get this--she talks about how she lost her legs and that gives her some understanding of how important health care is for people. This is Tammy Duckworth we're talking about. LTC Duckworth,. Who lost both legs in combat, an injury you can't hide by re-tailoring a jacket sleeve. Who since 2004; when it happened, has been experiencing life without legs, and what that means to other people who may have lost their legs in other ways (or in combat) and what it's really like to need a whole boatload of medical care just so you can function. And this is wrong why? Oh, because Mr. Knows-All says it is, because he's met combat vets who don't talk about it. (The notion that a combat vet has a right to talk about it, or not talk about it--that they've earned the right to make that choice--seems to have slid past him, because--like other GOP candidates and spokespersons--he can't resist attacking a Democrat on any--even ridiculous--grounds.)
And this...person...(I am doing my best not to use the language I learned in the Marine Corps, though I make no promises for the future)...tries to wrap himself in the service honors of John McCain (because McCain didn't, he says, talk about his service. McCain, of course, had the entire publicity industry of the GOP talking about it for him.) This person...feels completely qualified--and entitled--to say Duckworth is not a true hero because she doesn't shy away from talking about what it's like to be a double amputee female veteran.
This person....needs a solid dose of reality. Wrap this little...person... in a blanket and take him away, stuff him in a uniform, drop him (with a parachute; I'm not fussy) into Afghanistan and let's see what kind of hero he is. (Come on--that's better than chopping off his legs with a dull hatchet, so he can experience double amputee life for himself and decide whether he'll ever talk about it.) Ensure that he sees enough combat to squeal like a baby pig, because I'm sure he will, and if he's injured give him the treatment he would accord others. And if he dies, no loss to the nation, not a person who runs out on family responsibilities and disrespects wounded warriors.
Now there are Republicans who have chastised the person for what he said. Veterans themselves. Good for them. But I wonder if they will now vote for Duckworth (since a number of them say they're "rock-ribbed" Republicans) or whether they'll yellow-dog-down on Walsh and vote for him because after all...you just can't vote for a Democrat. I wonder if they'll take a long hard look at what their party has done, and is doing, to disrespect the service of Democrat candidates and Democrats in office....in the ways their party's lack of support for the military and wounded warriors--in the name of "fiscal conservatism" in cutting funding, and in the name of "social conservatism" in special disrespect for women in the military (both straight and lesbian) and gay men in the military. I wonder if they'll take a long hard look at the pattern of behavior the GOP has demonstrated for the last fifty years now, and try to steer their party back to the moderate positions that allowed respect for non-GOP Americans.
I guess we'll find out on election day. I guess we'll find out if the pressure on Walsh (who has refused to apologize) stays on, or if it all goes away by the end of the week and he's once more the darling of the far, far right. One comment I saw said that his managers shouldn't have let him say that...a typical GOP notion that if you can hide the truth about something (remember the Abu Ghraib mess? When the first reaction of Bush's White House was not that something horrible had been done, but that people found out?) then it doesn't matter. The concealing rug is supposed to be kept permanently raised on one side, so anything untoward can be quickly swept under it.
But once more there's this large pile of elephant poo, steaming and stinking, inconveniently large to hide under any rug, let alone an elephant hide. This is what the GOP is about--Joe Walsh isn't unique--he's just another one whose smooth gray elephant hide slid off enough to show the festering hatred of the bigoted hyena within.