Goldberg, Michelle, Newsweek
Byline: Michelle Goldberg
An Iraq War vet takes on the Tea Party.
After Tammy Duckworth lost her 2006 run for Congress by 2 percentage points in one of the country's most expensive House races, she swore she'd never run again. One of the few women to pilot Black Hawk helicopters in combat, Duckworth lost both legs and shattered her right arm after being downed by a rocket-propelled grenade in Iraq in 2004. She later emerged as an important voice against that war. Powerful Illinois politicians like Dick Durbin and Rahm Emanuel recruited her to run for Congress in suburban Chicago while she was still recovering at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, learning to navigate the world on prosthetics.
The race against Republican Peter Roskam was hard. "It was so nasty, and so full of lies," she says. Duckworth, whose mother is Thai-Chinese, recalls seeing an image of herself, her eyes Photoshopped into slits, "standing on the border handing out money to illegal immigrants." After the election, she says, "I just thought, I'm done. I will find other ways to serve."
Now, though, she's back, campaigning against Republican Congressman Joe Walsh in what will likely prove one of 2012's highest-profile races. For Democrats, the contest has an epic quality, pitting a galvanic war heroine against a man who symbolizes everything liberals abhor about the Tea Party. Walsh is famous for screaming at constituents for their criticism of big banks. He also preached personal responsibility while being sued by his ex-wife for more than $100,000 in unpaid child support. (They recently settled out of court. …