Travis County Judge Sarah Eckhardt, a Texas Democrat, cracked a crude joke about the accident that left Republican Gov. Gregg Abbott paralyzed from the waist down — in July 1984, at age 26, Abbott was paralyzed when an oak tree fell on him while out jogging after a storm. He has been forced to use a wheelchair ever since.
Eckhardt used the tragic accident as political fodder while participating in a panel on progressive activism at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. Ironically, the judge was talking about being able to disagree without being disagreeable.
The judge was speaking on the GOP-led state legislature overriding local ordinances, citing an ordinance in the state capital on cutting down of trees, when she joked that Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him,” according to Fox News.
The room reportedly laughed.
At #TribFest19 panel on progressive activism, @JudgeEckhardt, talking about #txlege overriding local ordinances like Austin’s tree ordinance, says Gov. Abbott “hates trees because one fell on him.” The crowd laughs.
— John Daniel Davidson (@johnddavidson) September 27, 2019
Once word got out of the offensive comment, the Democratic judge launched into damage control mode.
“In my panel today at the Texas Tribune Festival on ‘Public Enragement’ I spoke about the importance of being able to disagree without being disagreeable. Then I said something disagreeable,” Eckhardt said in statement. “I want to apologize to Governor Abbott. I made a flippant comment that was inappropriate. The comment did nothing to further the debate I was participating in, much less further the political discourse in our community, state, and nation. While the Governor and I disagree on a number of issues, that is no excuse to be disagreeable.”
Today I made a mistake and I sincerely apologize to @GregAbbott_TX. I have personally reached out to the Governor to apologize because my comment was inappropriate and wrong. pic.twitter.com/rgOEM9EQd6
— Senator Sarah Eckhardt (@SenatorEckhardt) September 28, 2019
Democrats are the party that claims to look out for the downtrodden and the afflicted, to include those with disabilities.
Travis County Republican Party chairman Matt Mackowiak responded to Eckhardt’s remark by saying it showed a “profound lack of compassion” towards someone with a disability.
“Judge Eckhardt apparently believes that his [Abbott] disability is open to ridicule if it helps her make a political argument,”the GOP leader said in a release. “This joke represents a profound lack of compassion from Judge Eckhardt. There is no place for insulting Americans with disabilities and Judge Eckhardt should know better.”
Abbott received a multimillion-dollar lawsuit settlement from the accident, but told the Texas Tribune in 2013 that he’d gladly give the money back if he could regain the use of his legs.
“Money doesn’t heal anything. Money doesn’t allow me to walk. It doesn’t allow me to dance with my wife. It doesn’t allow me to pick up my daughter. It doesn’t allow me to walk my daughter down the aisle when she gets married,” Abbott said in 2013. “If you could name the person I could write the check to, I’d send all this money right back if I could walk again.”
Here’s a quick sampling of some of the responses toJudge Eckhardt’s comments from Twitter:
This is an unbelievably distasteful comment from @JudgeEckhardt. She should immediately apologize to Governor @GregAbbott_TX and the @texasdemocrats should condemn her statement. https://t.co/YBdsGGubO0
— Texas GOP (@TexasGOP) September 28, 2019
What an unbelievably stupid thing to say about @GovAbbott or anyone. Taking steps to lessen the negative consequences of Austin’s nutball policy-making is hardly a basis to attack the Governor for a tragic injury which he has demonstrated steadfast determination to overcome. https://t.co/ha1tn82ILs
— Chip Roy (@chiproytx) September 27, 2019
Absolutely classless comment! @GovAbbott is a shining example to all Texans of someone who overcame adversity with a smile, a LOT of hard work, and a positive attitude. https://t.co/WFGfLFPfH1
— Kelly Hancock (@KHancock4TX) September 27, 2019
Democrat Texas Judge @JudgeEckhardt mocks Texas Governor Greg Abbott over an accident that he was involved in that caused him to be paralyzed from the waist down
This is absolutely disgusting and she should be forced to resign https://t.co/wr5AqgwwQV
— Ryan Saavedra (@RealSaavedra) September 28, 2019
A Judge no less. @GregAbbott_TX didn’t deserve this. @GregAbbott_TX you are a man among men, and as a fellow Texan I am proud you are my Governor.
— Gail (@Gail33284467) September 28, 2019
But it’s not the first time Democrats have had egg on their faces.
Just ask Virginia Gov. Ralph “Black-face” Northam.
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