Ironically, Tammy Duckworth showed that she has characteristics that would make her worthy of holding public office in that moment when she publicly turned down a chance to gain such an office.
It has been bantered about that Gov. Pat Quinn, who is in search of a new lieutenant governor running mate following the withdrawal of primary election winner Scott Lee Cohen, was interested in having Duckworth in the spot.
DUCKWORTH HAS ONLY run for elective office once, and she lost that bid in 2006 for a congressional seat from Chicago’s far west suburbs to now-Rep. Peter Roskam, R-Ill. But throughout the years, she has constantly had her name come up whenever a post opens up and a replacement needs to be found.
Remember how her name got bantered about for the U.S. Senate vacancy that ultimately went (out of political spite to the establishment) to Roland Burris?
Since losing her electoral bid, she has served in the Illinois Department of Veterans Affairs (picked to be director by then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich) and is currently an assistant secretary for the federal equivalent of that same agency (picked by President Barack Obama).
Duckworth is the Iraq War veteran who lost her legs when the military helicopter she was piloting was shot down. It is because of that life story that she can appreciate the problems that military veterans in our country go through, and why she seems to want to use her time in public life to try to benefit those people.
SHE LITERALLY TOLD Quinn this week that she felt she had an obligation to remain with the federal government through the Obama administration to fulfill her duties to military people. I respect that. I admire someone who is not so eager to jump every time something comes along that could be perceived as a promotion (although how a job that means nothing unless Pat Quinn dies or is impeached is a promotion is questionable to me).
In my mind, it allows Duckworth to maintain a certain level of political “purity” that probably means she will forevermore have her name tossed about whenever a political vacancy comes up.
I only hope for her sake that Duckworth has her “not interested” statement stored away somewhere so she can release it with the touch of a button whenever a post opens up. Because I am not at all convinced about the reality of Duckworth as a political candidate. I don’t think she’d be anywhere near as effective as she is working on behalf of military veterans (and I understand there are some people who question her competence in those posts as well).
Part of it is that I think people who watch Chicago and Illinois politics have build up Duckworth into an idealistic fantasy. I don’t think anyone is as wonderful as some people dream her to be. I think even Duckworth herself would admit that.
PLUS, I WONDER how many votes she’d actually bring in.
I know there are the political observers who follow Democrats who always liked Duckworth for being the real-life soldier who saw combat and didn’t return to our society as a hard-core Republican prepared to kill on behalf of all those conservative ideals.
It was always figured that Duckworth was a way of reaching out to that segment of our society that is enchanted with the military and completely comfortable with its ways of operating. Maybe she could get some of those people to seriously consider casting ballots for political candidates who have the “D” after their names instead of the “R.”
But it always seems that the people who have this mindset aren’t so much enamored of the military itself or all those medals or rituals. It is the ideal of some sort of firm order to our society that people should conform to without giving it a second thought.
THAT KIND OF mentality might be necessary in the military in a combat situation, but it doesn’t work in civilian society no matter how much some people want it to. Those people are going to find a reason to prefer a Republican candidate to any Democrat, regardless of how much military experience she or he has.
Consider that George W. Bush in his two presidential elections defeated two Army veterans who served during the Vietnam War, only to have the military credentials of those two veterans (Gore and Kerry) trashed mercilessly by military-minded people who don’t want to believe that anyone like them could ever turn out to be a Democrat.
The kind of people who are inclined to vote for Democrats largely aren’t swayed by that military record, no matter how heroic or pristine.
If it reads like I’m saying I don’t know that Duckworth brings in that many votes for the Democratic ticket, you’d be correct.
BUT IT’S ALL a moot point, since Duckworth herself said she’s not interested (and that might be for the best, because I’m not sure how Democrats would have gotten around the residency requirements for a statewide constitutional candidate – Duckworth now lives in the Washington, D.C.-metropolitan area).
I’ll wish her the best in her ongoing job to try to improve conditions for our military veterans, while also sitting back to see how the Illinois Democratic Party’s central committee conducts itself on March 15 when they convene to actually pick someone to be Quinn’s replacement, just in case …
EDITOR’S NOTES: Tammy Duckworth likes her current political appointment enough not to want to move (http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-met-duckworth-lt-governor-0224-20100223,0,29815.story) “up” the ladder.
Not everyone (http://www.southtownstar.com/news/kadner/2042408,021110kadner.article) thinks it is “Tammy Duckworth, Superstar!”
Duckworth dodged a political bullet by not getting too closely aligned with Rod Blagojevich. Did she once again (http://chicagoargus.blogspot.com/2009/02/duckworth-breaks-ties-to-blagojevich.html) spare herself future agony by turning down the lieutenant governor’s nomination?
A site for those of you (http://www.duckworthforcongress.com/) who want to recall Duckworth’s one try at electoral politics, or her life since then.