Senator Tammy Duckworth Speaks … We Must Listen!

The ignominious Fox personality, Tucker Carlson, is known for his hateful rhetoric.  The most recent target of his foul mouth is Senator Tammy Duckworth, a wheelchair bound Purple Heart veteran who lost both legs in the Iraqi War.  For further information on this, please see Keith’s post on the subject.  Today, in the New York Times, Senator Duckworth responds in an OpEd that I think is well worth sharing.duckworth-obama

tammy-duckworth-2A little over 240 years ago, two of my ancestors put on the uniform of George Washington’s Continental Army and marched into battle, willing to die if it meant bringing their fledgling nation inches closer to independence. Centuries later, in 1992, I followed in their footsteps and joined the Army.

Even knowing how my tour in Iraq would turn out, even knowing that I’d lose both my legs in a battlefield just north of Baghdad in late 2004, I would do it all over again. Because if there’s anything that my ancestors’ service taught me, it’s the importance of protecting our founding values, including every American’s right to speak out. In a nation born out of an act of protest, there is nothing more patriotic than standing up for what you believe in, even if it goes against those in power.

Our founders’ refusal to blindly follow their leader was what I was reflecting on this Fourth of July weekend, when some on the far right started attacking me for suggesting that all Americans should be heard, even those whose opinions differ from our own. Led by the Fox News host Tucker Carlson and egged on by President Trump, they began questioning my love for the country I went to war to protect, using words I never actually said and ascribing a position to me that I do not actually hold.

Mr. Carlson disingenuously claimed that because I expressed an openness to “a national dialogue” about our founders’ complex legacies, people like me “actually hate America.” One night later, he claimed that I called George Washington a traitor even though I had unambiguously answered no when asked whether anyone could justify saying that he was. Then he argued that changes to monuments of our founders “deserve a debate,” which, somehow, was different and more acceptable to him than the “national dialogue” that led him to question my patriotism just 24 hours earlier.

Setting aside the fact that the right wing’s right to lie about me is one of the rights I fought to defend, let me be clear: I don’t want George Washington’s statue to be pulled down any more than I want the Purple Heart that he established to be ripped off my chest. I never said that I did.

But while I would risk my own safety to protect a statue of his from harm, I’ll fight to my last breath to defend every American’s freedom to have his or her own opinion about Washington’s flawed history. What some on the other side don’t seem to understand is that we can honor our founders while acknowledging their serious faults, including the undeniable fact that many of them enslaved Black Americans.

Because while we have never been a perfect union, we have always sought to be a more perfect union — and in order to do so, we cannot whitewash our missteps and mistakes. We must learn from them instead.

But what I actually said isn’t the reason Mr. Carlson and Mr. Trump are questioning my patriotism, nor is it why they’re using the same racist insults against me that have been slung my way time and again in years past, though they have never worked on me.

They’re doing it because they’re desperate for America’s attention to be on anything other than Donald Trump’s failure to lead our nation, and because they think that Mr. Trump’s electoral prospects will be better if they can turn us against one another. Their goal isn’t to make — or keep — America great. It’s to keep Mr. Trump in power, whatever the cost.

It’s better for Mr. Trump to have you focused on whether an Asian-American woman is sufficiently American than to have you mourning the 130,000 Americans killed by a virus he claimed would disappear in February. It’s better for his campaign to distract Americans with whether a combat veteran is sufficiently patriotic than for people to recall that this failed commander in chief has still apparently done nothing about reports of Russia putting bounties on the heads of American troops in Afghanistan.

Mr. Trump and his team have made the political calculation that, no matter what, they can’t let Americans remember that so many of his decisions suggest that he cares more about lining his pockets and bolstering his political prospects than he does about protecting our troops or our nation.

They should know, though, that attacks from self-serving, insecure men who can’t tell the difference between true patriotism and hateful nationalism will never diminish my love for this country — or my willingness to sacrifice for it so they don’t have to. These titanium legs don’t buckle.

The hateful vision for America parroted by Mr. Trump and Mr. Carlson will not win. Their relentless efforts to drive wedges between us will not work forever. We are too resilient a nation, too diverse a people, to let them.

In his farewell address, George Washington not only recognized his own imperfections, he also urged Americans to “guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism” and be wary of excessive partisanship. In the generations since, too many patriots, including many in my own family, have sacrificed too much to let our guard down now.

So when Tucker Carlson questions the patriotism of those willing to sacrifice for his freedom, or when Donald Trump promotes those smears — after having threatened to veto a pay raise for our troops to try to ensure the military continues honoring Confederate traitors who took up arms against our Union — remember Washington’s words.

Remember that part of what has always made America not just great but good is that every American has the right to question those in charge. Anyone claiming to stand up for “patriotic” values should recognize that, because, without it, the country these impostor patriots claim to love so much would not exist.

Our nation deserves leaders mature and secure enough not to race-bait or swift-boat anyone who dares disagree with them. After these past four years, and especially after these past four months, it’s clearer than ever that we must choose public servants who will focus on the serious issues facing our country — from the spread of the coronavirus to systemic racism to foreign adversaries threatening our troops’ lives — rather than cynical bullies who use schoolyard tactics to distract from their own shortcomings.

So while I would put on my old uniform and go to war all over again to protect the right of Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump to say offensive things on TV and Twitter, I will also spend every moment I can from now until November fighting to elect leaders who would rather do good for their country than do well for themselves.

33 thoughts on “Senator Tammy Duckworth Speaks … We Must Listen!

  1. Thanks for sharing Senator Duckworth’s letter. Shame on Tucker Carslon! Every point she has made is valid and powerful. I would like to highlight the following:

    “Mr. Trump and his team have made the political calculation that, no matter what, they can’t let Americans remember that so many of his decisions suggest that he cares more about lining his pockets and bolstering his political prospects than he does about protecting our troops or our nation.”

    “Remember that part of what has always made America not just great but good is that every American has the right to question those in charge. Anyone claiming to stand up for “patriotic” values should recognize that, because, without it, the country these impostor patriots claim to love so much would not exist.”

    Liked by 4 people

    • I agree … shame on Tucker Carlson. This is not his first target, nor likely his last, but he strikes at many when he targets a decorated war hero. The two quotes you highlight should be enough to convince every thinking person of his unfitness for office. Senator Duckworth is, I believe, on the shortlist for Biden’s running mate. She would bring a lot to the table, for sure.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Jill, thanks for the link and shout out. Duckworth has written a passionate, pertinent and truthful rebuttal to Carlson. She appropriately defends herself and her service and excorciates both Carlson and Trump. Many things bother me, but we have a president who did not read an intelligence briefing or chose not to act against the possibility Putin was putting bounties and on US soldiers and that is OK to Trump sycophants. We are talking about a president’s incompetence or malfeasance as the so-called leader of our troops. He cares more about a monument than a 20 year old soldier in Afghanistan. A Congresswoman and former CIA officer is raising these concerns. Keith

    Liked by 7 people

    • Hi Keith, while I agree with Ms Duckworth’s noble intentions to improve the state of our union, she should update her facts about that Russian bounty hoax. On July 3rd, the NYT printed an update about the leaked memos, declaring the intelligence assessment to be inconclusive/ or false.

      Just a day after it was published the main accusation, that Trump was briefed on the ‘intelligence’ died. The Director of National Intelligence, the National Security Advisor and the CIA publicly rejected the claim. Then the rest of the story started to crumble. On June 2, just one week after it was launched, the story was declared dead:

      A memo produced in recent days by the office of the nation’s top intelligence official acknowledged that the C.I.A. and top counterterrorism officials have assessed that Russia appears to have offered bounties to kill American and coalition troops in Afghanistan, but emphasized uncertainties and gaps in evidence, according to three officials.

      The memo said that the C.I.A. and the National Counterterrorism Center had assessed with medium confidence — meaning credibly sourced and plausible, but falling short of near certainty — that a unit of the Russian military intelligence service, known as the G.R.U., offered the bounties, according to two of the officials briefed on its contents.

      But other parts of the intelligence community — including the National Security Agency, which favors electronic surveillance intelligence — said they did not have information to support that conclusion at the same level, therefore expressing lower confidence in the conclusion, according to the two officials.

      The NYT buried the above quoted dead corpse of the original story page A-19.

      It’s important to set the record straight, otherwise news agencies lose credibility and gain the reputation of perpetuating fake news. I’m sure Trump will now politically weaponize this false Russian bounty story as a baseless attack on his administration by the deep state. Let’s hope this fake news story doesn’t rally his base like during the impeachment trial, when his approval numbers went up!


      • Question – why did the military leaders give a heads up then to leaders in Afghanistan? My view is simple – whether it has veracity or not, this is precisely the kind of information the president needs to be aware of. I do know, if I were president, and my staff did not say – let me draw your attention to this issue – I would be very perturbed. Then, they could tell me what they think about its veracity. They know the president does not read, but saying he did not know is bad as well.

        Those are my thoughts, for whatever they are worth. Thanks for sharing yours. Keith

        Liked by 3 people

        • A reasonable question, i’m not so sure our military leaders had the right intel. The disinfo may have been leaked intentionally by CIA in order to create a pretext for starting a military conflict with Russia. This is not as absurd as it sounds, GW Bush relied on “intelligence” about weapons of mass destruction to invade Iraq. We know now that was a manufactured pretext to start a war. A lot of money can be made during armed conflict, so military along with our intelligence agencies create the conditions, then spin lies to make it happen. The media gets wind of the “news” and blows everything out of proportion.
          I believe the same sequence of events had occurred, except this time independent reporter Glenn Greenwald of the Intercept asked the right questions, forcing our intelligence agencies to admit the truth… there was no credible evidence that the Russian GRU offered bounties to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.
          If you like, read the NY Times article for yourself, they clearly admit there was insufficient evidence to justify the veracity of the memo. The link is provided in my previous comment. Also for what it’s worth:

          Last week we also learned that Adam Schiff, who had blamed Trump for not reacting to the fake ‘intelligence’ and who used the story to call for more Russia sanctions, had been briefed on the very same ‘intelligence’ months ago:

          Top committee staff for Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the chairman of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, were briefed in February on intelligence about Russia offering the Taliban bounties in Afghanistan, but he took no action in response to the briefing, multiple intelligence sources familiar with the briefing told The Federalist.

          The revelation raises serious questions that Schiff is once again politicizing, and perhaps even deliberately misrepresenting, key data for partisan gain.

          Asked by a reporter Tuesday if he had any knowledge of the Russia story prior to the New York Times report, Schiff said “I can’t comment on specifics.”

          Schiff’s recent complaints that Trump took no action against Russia in response to rumors of Russian bounties are curious given that Schiff himself took no action after his top staff were briefed by intelligence officials. As chairman of the intelligence committee, Schiff had the authority to immediately brief the full committee and convene hearings on the matter. Schiff, however, did nothing.

          As Schiff and his committee staff knew about the claims they may well have been the ones who pushed it to the reporters.

          Consider that both papers, the NYT and the WaPo, attribute their knowledge to ‘officials’. There is a code for anonymous sources in U.S. political reporting that is usual adhered to. Sources are described as ‘White House officials’, ‘administration officials’, ‘Pentagon officials’ or ‘intelligence officials’ when they are working for the government. Congressional sources are usually described as ‘officials’ without any additional attribute.

          The original sources also made the false claim that Trump had been briefed on the ‘intelligence’. Source in the White House or the CIA would have likely known that this had not been the case. Sources from Congress had no way of knowing that.

          That makes it quite likely that Schiff and/or members of his staff were the original sources of the fake story. Consider that it was Schiff who for two years had claimed again and again that there was ‘direct evidence” that the Trump campaign had colluded with the Russian government. That has turned out to have been a lie. It is certainly not beyond Schiff to sell a dubious ‘intelligence’ report, based on circumstantial evidence, as alarming news that required immediate action.

          The purpose of this shabby round of ‘Russiagate’ nonsense was to hinder Trump’s plans to withdraw all troops from Afghanistan before the election, to sabotage the cooperation between Russia and the U.S. on the negotiations with the Taliban and to blame Trump of another ‘collusion’ with the ever hated Russia.


        • I am convinced that Trump was, in fact, briefed on this and chose to ignore it, hoping it would go away, just as he has largely done with the pandemic. Where there is so much smoke, there is a fire somewhere.


    • My pleasure … I nearly re-blogged your post, but then when I saw Senator Duckworth’s OpEd in the NYT, I knew I had to share it. Carlson Tucker is just about as nasty of an example of the human species as I can find, and as he has lost a large number of advertisers, I would love to see Fox tell him “bye-bye”. As re Trump … yes, he cares more for his own image than the lives of any. I really want to know why we haven’t heard a thing about his ignoring the intelligence that said Russia was paying a bounty to kill our soldiers. Why isn’t that headline news? Why isn’t it being pursued? Is this going to just be quietly covered up and fade into the background? Sigh.


      • Jill, I agree on all counts. See my response about the president saying he did not know about the bounty issue. After reading Michael Lewis’ “The fifth risk,” there is a great deal of information the president and his team don’t know about the risks facing our country because they did not bother to read briefing books by outgoing officials that Lewis read. And, with less Congressional oversight, fired Inpsector Generals and humiliated whistelblowers, the risk is heightened.

        The question I struggle with is Trump a clear and present danger more because he is corrupt and deceitful or is it more that he does not know things he pretends to know and does not take the time to learn. It probably is both.


        Liked by 2 people

        • It seems to me that Trump’s basic attitude is: “I’m gonna do what I’m gonna do, so don’t bother me with facts.” He took this tact on the Russian investigation, on the pandemic, on climate change, and now on the Russian bounty to the Taliban. What we have here is a ‘man’ who believes the United States is his own personal playground.

          I think the answer to your question is indeed ‘both’. Either one would be bad enough … ignorance or corruption … but together they form a lethal combination.


  3. The senator is generous iinn saying she would return to battle for the likes of Tucker Carlson and Trump to have the right to insult her.I think the highest court in the land should listen to the tape of what she said and then make Tucker Carlson apologise for each lie he told and then make him pay a swingeing fine to a charity of her choice. Trump should be made to pay a fine of double that amount just for waking up in a morning.

    Liked by 6 people

    • She is indeed generous … much more so than I would be. I agree with your idea, but at this point, I’d settle for Fox telling Carlson Tucker to hit the road. He has lost most of his advertisers, so it wouldn’t surprise me.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. This remark by Tammy —Their goal isn’t to make — or keep — America great. It’s to keep Mr. Trump in power— made me think of a new slogan for “Mr.” Trump … KTIP. I’ll let you guess at the acronyms. Hint: it has nothing to do with making America great but has everything to do with losing its greatness.

    Liked by 3 people

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