by Daniel T. Zanoza, Executive Director
On July 30, 2009, I wrote a commentary titled "Mark Kirk's U.S. Senate Bid Doomed: When Will GOP Ever Learn?" http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2009/07/-mark-kirks-us-senate-bid-doomed-when-will-gop-ever-learn-.html
I wrote the commentary long before the recent revelations regarding Kirk's exaggeration of his military service. On Sunday, June 13, 2010 the Chicago Tribune ran a major article which will put a damper on a political candidate which was forced upon Republican voters by the Illinois GOP leadership.
From the beginning, Kirk was out of step with GOP social and fiscal conservatives. Kirk's voting record in support of abortion rights, his anti-Second Amendment votes in Congress and Kirk's support for values that run contrary to the Republican Party platforms on the state and national levels alienated the U.S. Representative from Illinois 10th U.S. Congressional District with social conservatives. However, when Kirk was one of only eight Republicans in the U.S. House of Reps. to vote for the "American Clean Energy and Security Act" (HR2454), commonly called Cap and Trade, he infuriated fiscal conservatives as well--not only in Illinois, but across the entire nation.
Afterwards, Kirk threw salt on a festering wound by saying if he could have a do-over he would vote against the climate control bill that, if passed by the U.S. Senate and signed into law by President Obama, would devastate America's economy. The bill is so toxic, the U.S. Senate has yet to act on the legislation, even though it is a primary component of Obama's left-wing political agenda.
But red flags went up with many Republicans, like myself, when it appeared Kirk was the "chosen one" according to statements made by Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady before the February 2010 GOP primary. Kirk contributed $50,000 to the Illinois Republican Party and shortly thereafter became the obvious favorite of the Republican establishment.
Questions about Kirk's exaggerated military service were raised before the February primary. In recent weeks, Kirk has come under withering fire for embellishing his U.S. Naval military record. In fact, campaign ads Kirk ran during the primary race were comical to many of us who follow politics closely. In one ad, Kirk gave the definite impression he was in harm's way while "flying over Kosovo, Iraq and on the ground in Afghanistan." This was clearly a ridiculous and misleading claim. Obviously, common sense dictates a sitting Congressman would not be placed in harm's way and, unless a waiver is issued, there are rules which, to quote a Chicago Tribune story says "Politicians -- particularly members of Congress -- are not allowed to serve in imminent danger areas unless the Dept. of Defense specifically allows it." http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/elections/ct-met-senate-kirk-giannoulias-20100612,0,2203077.story [posted June 13, 2010]
Before it came to light that Kirk exaggerated his role in the Naval Reserves and took personal credit for an award given to his unit, it was evident the Republican nominee for the U.S. Senate was using his military service as a reservist for his own personal agenda. Indeed on June 1st, the Washington Post reported Kirk "had claimed, inaccurately, to have received the Navy's 'Intelligence Officer of the Year' award. But he did not receive that award: In reality, the unit Kirk led in Aviano, Italy, was given an award for outstanding service by a group called the National Military Intelligence Association. Kirk, who is seen on video claiming to have won the award, was not singled out for individual recognition."
Before eventually offering an apology, Kirk compounded his faux pas by telling reporters at CBS TV Channel 2 in Chicago his claim wasn't "legally precise." CBS reported the Washington Post said Kirk cast the comments as an oversight, not an attempt to exaggerate his record. http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20006430-503544.html [posted June 1, 2010]
Now, some will say Kirk was simply playing politics with his braggadocio regarding his service in the military, but those who have family members currently serving in the United States Armed Forces and the families of millions of Americans who served our nation honorably in the past, some of whom paid the ultimate sacrifice, interpret Kirk's claims as a reflection of character or lack thereof.
And here is a fact that cannot be denied. Any politician who would vote for or support the practice of partial-birth abortion--which is so radical a procedure many liberal Democrats oppose it--will not get the vote of Republicans, Democrats or Independents who cannot support an individual because their conscience would prohibit them from doing so.
The operative question for all Illinois Republicans, as the titular head of the GOP ticket is: How much of a drag will Kirk be for the entire Republican slate? Therefore, since Kirk is out of step with a growing number of Republicans, including social and fiscal conservatives, perhaps he should do the honorable thing and drop out of the Illinois U.S. Senate race. There are more acceptable candidates with high name recognition who could replace Kirk on the November ballot and strengthen the entire Republican ticket...Adam Andrzejewski, state Sen. Kirk Dillard and Andy McKenna to name just a few.
I do not ascribe to the "Republican right or wrong" mantra. Kirk must do the right thing by bowing out of the Illinois Senate race. Most definitely, Illinois needs a candidate for the U.S. Senate who not only abides by the GOP's state and national platforms, but reflects the character necessary to help formulate and advance policies at a time when our nation is at a critical turning point in history.
Although Republican Party Chairman Pat Brady will most assuredly continue to support Kirk's candidacy, pressure is building among activists and Republican leaders who recognize Kirk's liabilities which would most likely lead to the election of his Democratic opponent, Alexi Giannoulias. We are at a crucial crossroads in our nation's history when every vote in Congress matters.
If Kirk would step aside, the 19 members of the State Central Committee, by weighted vote, would choose another candidate to replace Kirk. Such a political move would not set precedent.
Some will say I am ignoring the proverbial elephant sitting in the corner concerning questions surrounding Kirk's sexual orientation. However, I will leave that issue to others to discuss. Mr. Kirk does not represent the values of many Republicans and does not deserve to be on the ballot in the upcoming midterm election.
Some Republicans will disagree with my opinion, but as Kirk's record comes under closer scrutiny, the question is: Will voters hold their nose and vote for a man whose voting record as a member of Congress more closely resembled that of a radically liberal Democrat?
Military fraud and the exaggeration of military service are much more serious issues with the public than the dominant media and Mark Kirk would like us to believe. This is especially true in time of war when men and women are losing their lives in the service of their country.
For the good of the Party, I urge Mark Kirk to drop out of the U.S. Senate race in Illinois and soon.
Chicago Tribune: Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias resume bashing: Kirk again challenged over military record: Congressman's use of 'deployment' comes under scrutiny http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/elections/ct-met-senate-kirk-giannoulias-20100612,0,2203077.story [posted June 13, 2010]
CBS News: Will Mark Kirk's Military Claim Hurt Senate Bid? http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-503544_162-20006430-503544.html [posted June 1, 2010]
Washington Post: Mark Kirk campaign ad makes false claim about his military service: http://voices.washingtonpost.com/thefix/senate/mark-kirk-campaign-ad-makes-fa.html [posted June 1, 2010]
Former GOP U.S. Senate Candidate Andy Martin: Andy Martin drops new “Bunker Buster” ad on Mark Kirk: Kirk inflates his military service: http://andyforussenator.blogspot.com/2010/01/andy-martin-drops-new-bunker-buster-ad.html [posted Jan. 18, 2010]
RFFM.org: Mark Kirk's U.S. Senate Bid Doomed: When Will GOP Ever Learn? http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2009/07/-mark-kirks-us-senate-bid-doomed-when-will-gop-ever-learn-.html [posted July 30, 2009]
RFFM.org: Cap and Trade Passes U.S. House: Kirk, 7 other Republicans, Vote for Greatest Tax Increase in U.S. History
http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2009/06/cap-and-trade-passes-us-house-kirk-7-other-republicans-vote-for-greatest-tax-increase-in-us-history-.html [posted June 27, 2009]
RFFM.org Satire: ABC 7 Chicago's GOP U.S. Senatorial Debate: Where Mark Kirk Really Was http://rffm.typepad.com/republicans_for_fair_medi/2010/01/abc-7-chicagos-gop-us-senatorial-debate-where-kirk-really-was.html [posted January 16, 2010]
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