CNN contributor Erick Erickson came to the defense of Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) today after Walsh attacked his opponent, wounded veteran Tammy Duckworth, for supposedly discussing her service too often on the campaign trail. Erickson claimed the largely negative reaction to Walsh's comments are a "manufactured scandal." In his comments Walsh contrasted Duckworth, who lost both legs in a helicopter attack, with "our true heroes."
The line Erickson chose to defend Walsh over came from a campaign speech on July 1, in which Rep. Walsh claimed that Duckworth was unlike "our true heroes" because her military service is "all she talks about":
WALSH: Understand something about John McCain. His political advisers, day after day, had to take him and almost throw him against a wall and hit him against the head and say, "Senator, you have to let people know you served! You have to talk about what you did!" He didn't want to do it, wouldn't do it. Day after day they had to convince him. Finally, he talked a little bit about it, but it was very uncomfortable for him. That's what's so noble about our heroes. Now I'm running against a woman who, my God, that's all she talks about. Our true heroes, it's the last thing in the world they talk about. That's why we're so indebted and in awe of what they've done.
After Walsh received widespread criticism for his comments, Erickson wrote a post on RedState.com: "I support Congressman Joe Walsh a thousand percent and you should too. Pony up your checkbooks while you are at it. He's in the midst of a manufactured scandal because he dared utter an inconvenient truth." Erickson claimed that "the left went into overdrive" when Walsh "pointed out that Duckworth's service in the military is about the extent of her public campaign platform" and concluded that "[a]ll he did was tell it like it is. That's what is so refreshing about Joe Walsh."
But Erickson's defense of Walsh misses the point of the controversy . Walsh didn't limit his attack to Duckworth's record on policy issues, his comments explicitly created a distinction between Duckworth and "our true heroes" in the military. In fact, after given the chance to walk back his statement, Walsh called Duckworth a hero but qualified it by stating, "unlike most veterans I have had the honor to meet since my election to Congress, who rarely if ever talk about their service or the combat they've seen, that is darn near all of what Tammy Duckworth talks about."
Appearing on CNN's The Situation Room on Friday afternoon, Erickson continued his defense of Walsh and claimed that Duckworth "doesn't spend a lot of time talking about the issues," again avoiding and deflecting from Walsh's attack on her military service.
He said that Walsh "calls it like he sees it," adding "I actually stand by what Joe Walsh said."
Introducing Erickson, host Wolf Blitzer said that the CNN contributor "caused a huge stir in the blogosphere" with his RedState.com post defending Walsh and that he's now "getting hammered for all of that that."