Whenever “politics” and “Twitter” come together in contemporary discourse, it’s usually because someone somehow involved in the 2016 presidential race tweeted or retweeted something especially stupid. Sure, former Republican candidate Jeb Bush managed to squeeze one in before he dropped out of the race, but Donald Trump‘s torrential history with the social media platform has reigned supreme. However, now it seems the National Republican Senatorial Committee wants to get in on the action.
That’s because, as Talking Points Memo and several Twitter users noticed on Tuesday afternoon, their official account tweeted an unfortunately worded post about Tammy Duckworth, a Democratic representative from Illinois running for Senate. The tweet, which was quickly deleted by the account’s manager, was captured by several reporters, pundits and critics and rapidly went viral. It read, “Tammy Duckworth has a sad record of not standing up for our veterans.”
What’s so bad about that? After all, several whistle blowers from Veterans Affairs have accused the lawmaker of ignoring complaints of abuse and neglect. These are valid concerns. Even so, here are a few fun, short facts to illuminate the problem:
- Duckworth is a U.S. Army helicopter pilot who served during the Iraq War.
- Duckworth lost both of her legs in combat, making her the first female double amputee in American military history.
- Duckworth became the first disabled person elected member of the U.S. House of Representatives when she took office in 2013.
Yes, the NRSC’s official Twitter account just accused a double-amputee Iraq War veteran of “not standing up for our veterans.” There are so many layers — intentional and otherwise — packed into this now-deleted tweet. Was the use of “standing up for” meant to call attention to Duckworth’s disability? Probably not. After all, it’s a common English idiom meaning to support a person or cause.
Then again, when asked for comment by Talking Points Memo, the NRSC issued a statement that didn’t really sound all that much like an apology:
“It would be great if reporters would pay as much attention to a deleted tweet as they should to Tammy Duckworth being sued by VA whistleblowers for ignoring claims of mistreatment and corruption,” the statement said.
Senator Mark Kirk, the incumbent Illinois Republican whose seat Duckworth’s campaign is vying for, issued a similar statement emphasizing the allegations against the representative and downplaying the tweet.
Meanwhile, Duckworth’s election campaign called the tweet “vile.” In their own statement, the campaign criticized Kirk’s comments as “tasteless and dishonest,” and said that Duckworth “has made fighting for Veterans her life’s work, and will continue to do so in the Senate.”
(Via Talking Points Memo)