Monday, May 31, 2010

Did Kirk inflate resume just like Plummer?

I’m starting to wonder if Republican gubernatorial nominee William Brady is looking at the people he is paired with on the GOP ticket, and is shuddering at the thought.

It was earlier this year that we learned that lieutenant governor nominee Jason Plummer had such an overloaded resume for a 27-year-old because some of his accomplishments were exaggerations – ie: claiming internships as jobs, military experience that has yet to occur, etc.

NOW, WE’RE AT Memorial Day with the GOP nominee for the U.S. Senate seat from Illinois having to confront allegations that he’s claiming military accomplishments he never really achieved.

Does that make the modern-day incarnation of the Illinois Republican Party the equivalent of the 20-year-old kid who works overnight at a 7-Eleven convenience store, and claims during future job interviews that it was a “management” position because he worked alone on that shift?

Mark Kirk, who has kept his position within the Naval Reserve even as he has served the past decade in Congress as the representative from the North Shore suburbs, has had to deal with reports that came out ever so conveniently in time for this holiday weekend about a claim on the resume – one that said he was once named Intelligence Officer of the Year.

He had claimed the award was for his work with the Navy during military actions in Kosovo.

BUT NOW THAT people are looking more closely at the Kirk resume, it seems that officials are saying it was another reservist who received that particular designation – although there also are awards by the intelligence community given out at regional levels.

Kirk is now claiming that it was his entire unit that received an award from the National Military Intelligence Association, which means he won something known as the “Taylor Award,” which doesn’t sound as imposing as the wording his resume used to reflect.

How seriously should we take this, considering that resume inflation is way too common. I remember when I used to have a reporter-type position that occasionally required me to interview prospective interns, I used to routinely find puffery in resumes meant to make someone sound much more impressive than they truly were. It is to the point where I have weeded through my own resume to eliminate as much puffery as possible, in hopes that it would make me stand out from the crowd that I’m not trying to feed a lot of bull to a potential future employer.

I’m sure such personal promotion happens everywhere. Somebody wants to present their best side, and it usually is someone who thinks highly enough of themselves to begin with that they decide in their minds that such overstated rhetoric isn’t that big a deal.

THAT CERTAINLY IS the approach the Kirk campaign is taking, sending out a statement by e-mail on Sunday meant to downplay the significance of this whole thing.

It is playing off the Washington Post report this weekend that acknowledged the newspaper learned of Kirk’s resume inflation from people who have an interest in promoting the campaign of Democratic challenger Alexi Giannoulias.

This is a lame trick by the political opposition, they want us to believe.

How else to explain a statement that begins with the headline, “’Mob Banker’ who never served attacks decorated Naval officer’s distinguished service record.”

WHICH MEANS THIS was probably a last-minute rewrite of the political cheap shot the Republicans had planned to make public for Memorial Day – Mark Kirk has served in the military, while Alexi Giannoulias has not.

That statement makes such rhetorical flushes as, “while Mark Kirk wore a U.S. Navy uniform, Alexi Giannoulias wore a basketball uniform in Greece” (he played one year professionally for Panionios) and “while Mark Kirk was supporting electronic attack missions over Iraq, Alexi Giannoulias was partying in New Orleans at Tulane Law School.”

What was supposed to be a hard-core partisan shot across the bow of the Campaign Giannoulias to get all those military veterans ticked off enough to vote against him was turned into Kirk having to justify that he really did serve in the Naval Reserve.

It also makes us wonder how much of the rest of his background is inflated. Are we going to find more things? I’d hope not. I’d rather this become a campaign based on issues, even though that is probably a naïve statement on my part.

THESE RHETORICAL FLOURISHES wind up becoming the issues, which means we will have to spend valuable time in coming months trying to figure out which candidate is lying to us less when they tell us about their life’s accomplishments.

So while the Kirk camp tells us that the candidate’s military record, “should not be denigrated by a 34-year-old media-dubbed ‘mob banker’ who has never served our country in uniform,” I wonder if it should be denigrated by a resume padder (which I think says something about someone’s character if they’re that insecure about the bottom-line truth).

More importantly, I wonder if at least a few of those people who served our country in uniform and died to preserve our society are rolling over in their graves at the thought that these two are the best that the major political parties could come up with to run for one of the highest political posts in the land.


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