Duck­worth won’t be swift­boated by Fox host

As Joe Bi­den con­sid­ers the Illi­nois se­na­tor as a pos­si­ble run­ning mate, Tucker Carl­son amps up his at­tacks on the Iraq War vet­eran

Chicago Sun-Times - - TOP NEWS - lsweet@sun­times.com | @lynnsweet LYNN SWEET D.C. DECODER

Fox News host Tucker Carl­son is swift­boat­ing Sen. Tammy Duck­worth, D-Ill., in the run­ning to be Joe Bi­den’s vice pres­i­den­tial pick.

I’ll re­mind ev­ery­one what swift­boat­ing is, as we need a word in ad­di­tion to “smear” to de­scribe the disgracefu­l low road Carl­son is tak­ing.

On his Mon­day and Tues­day shows, Carl­son, in fits of ju­ve­nile name-call­ing, den­i­grated Duck­worth’s mil­i­tary ser­vice. He ques­tioned her pa­tri­o­tism, down­played her com­bat in­juries and demon­strated that he may not know or ap­pre­ci­ate the war-fight­ing role of de­ployed Na­tional Guard troops.

Carl­son got worked up be­cause he did not ap­prove of Duck­worth’s an­swers in a Sun­day CNN dis­cus­sion about not nam­ing mil­i­tary bases af­ter Con­fed­er­ate of­fi­cers — Duck­worth is for name chang­ing — and whether Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton stat­ues should come down.

“Well, let me just say that we should start off by hav­ing a na­tional di­a­logue on it at some point,” Duck­worth said. She con­tin­ued, “But right now we are in the mid­dle of a global pan­demic, and one of the coun­tries that op­poses us, Rus­sia, has put a bounty on Amer­i­can troops’ head.”

Carl­son, one of the top Fox hosts, didn’t like Duck­worth’s an­swer.

On his Mon­day show, he in­cor­rectly said Duck­worth wanted to “get rid of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton,” as he un­loaded on Duck­worth, call­ing her “a deeply silly and unim­pres­sive per­son” and among peo­ple — a ref­er­ence to Democrats — who “ac­tu­ally hate Amer­ica.”

Duck­worth zinged Carl­son back in a tweet: “Does @Tuck­erCarl­son want to walk a mile in my legs and then tell me whether or not I love Amer­ica?”

Back­ground, first on Duck­worth, then on swift­boat­ing.

Many Chicago Sun-Times read­ers are fa­mil­iar with the Duck­worth story. She is a re­tired lieu­tenant colonel who served 23 years in the Illi­nois Army Na­tional Guard. Duck­worth lost her legs and shat­tered her right arm — and earned her Pur­ple Heart — when her Black Hawk he­li­copter was shot down in Iraq on Nov. 12, 2004.

Swift­boat­ing is a term born in the 2004 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign when then-Sen. John Kerry, DMass., was the Demo­cratic nom­i­nee. A GOP-al­lied, anti-Kerry group, Swift Boat Veter­ans for Truth, at­tacked Kerry’s pa­tri­o­tism and record in the mil­i­tary, where he served as a swift boat com­man­der in Viet­nam. The slams, most dis­torted or not true, none­the­less hurt Kerry. Af­ter that, swift­boat­ing, a stronger term than mud­sling­ing, be­came part of the po­lit­i­cal lex­i­con.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump and his cam­paign are in­creas­ingly tak­ing their cues from Carl­son at a time, sev­eral sources told me, when Duck­worth’s Bi­den vice pres­i­den­tial prospects are ris­ing.

By Tues­day af­ter­noon, Veter­ans for Trump co-chair Scott O’Grady, echo­ing Carl­son, said in a state­ment that Duck­worth “was open to tear­ing down stat­ues of Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton” and was “us­ing her mil­i­tary ser­vice to de­flect from her sup­port for the left-wing cam­paign to vil­lainize Amer­ica’s found­ing.”

A few hours later, Carl­son on his show slammed Duck­worth again. He said she was ques­tion­ing his right to crit­i­cize her since she was “once in­jured while serv­ing in the Illi­nois Army Na­tional Guard.” What a tell, Tucker.

Once in­jured? As if she stum­bled off a curb some­where safely in Illi­nois and sprained an an­kle?

There is no deny­ing Duck­worth al­most died that day in Iraq. Why frame it any other way?

And that seem­ingly diminu­tive ref­er­ence to the Illi­nois Army Na­tional Guard? Na­tional Guard units are de­ployed to dan­ger­ous places over­seas all the time. That’s what you sign up for when you join the mil­i­tary.

Carl­son on Tues­day said, “To mo­rons like Tammy Duck­worth, Wash­ing­ton is just some old white guy who needs to be erased.” He then called Duck­worth a “cow­ard” for not guest­ing on his show that night — how en­ti­tled is that — and a “cal­lous hack” who should not lead a “coun­try you de­spise.”

Carl­son wrapped up with jin­go­is­tic ap­peal, bring­ing up the very con­tro­ver­sial Rep. Il­han Omar, D-Minn., whose rad­i­cal views are not shared by Duck­worth and many other Democrats. But that was the picture Carl­son’s view­ers saw at the end of the seg­ment — two women of color, both Demo­cratic mem­bers of Congress, as he talked about the need to “pre­serve our na­tion and our her­itage and our cul­ture.”

You can dis­agree with Duck­worth’s opinion about study­ing Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton stat­ues; Duck­worth might have an­swered that bet­ter. But there is no need to min­i­mize her sac­ri­fice and ac­cuse her, of all peo­ple, of not be­ing pa­tri­otic.

We know what that is. It’s swift­boat­ing. It caught Kerry by sur­prise in 2004. In 2020, Duck­worth won’t be am­bushed.

Sen. Tammy Duck­worth, D-Ill.

Tucker Carl­son

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