Wednesday, February 17, 2016

It’s too bad Kirk can’t turn to Emanuel for advice on Scalia predicament

There may be one person whom Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., ought to listen to, because that person would be in a unique position to understand the predicament the junior senator from Illinois faces with regards to taking a stand on how to fill the vacancy that now exists in the Supreme Court of the United States.

KIRK: Reaching for extra-strength Tylenol dose?
But I’m pretty sure that Mayor Rahm Emanuel has enough political problems of his own to deal with, and certainly wouldn’t want to be seen as offering help to the Republican who is the top target of his state’s political party.

MEANING THAT KIRK is going to have to figure out all by his lonesome how to go about expressing what he thinks about what should be done with the Supreme Court seat that was held until Friday night by Antonin Scalia.

If he fulfills his duties as a senator and votes in any way to support a replacement picked by President Barack Obama, he becomes a traitor to the ideologues who already were wary of him as not conservative enough to use the Republican label.

And those ideologues will influence big money interests whom Kirk desperately needs if he’s to have a chance of winning re-election come November.

But if Kirk goes along with his GOP colleagues (which my guess is what he ultimately will do), he’s ensuring the key issue to be used against him will be the inactivity that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised will be the Republican response to any effort by Obama to pick a new Supreme Court justice before leaving office in January.

TO USE THE old cliché, he’s “damned if he does, and damned if he doesn’t.” Which is why I think he’ll choose political party over all, and hope and pray for the best.

SCALIA: Does he doom Kirk to defeat?
The names may be different, but the circumstances remind me so much of back in 2008 when we were in the Democratic presidential primary – the one that became a state-by-state battle between Obama and Hillary Clinton. Where Hillary thought she had overwhelming advantages that just didn’t turn out in her favor.

In Chicago, Clinton thought she had the support of the political establishment locked up. Helped in large part by then-Congressman Rahm Emanuel who had been a high-ranking staffer in the White House under her husband.

Hillary was counting on Rahm to use his skills of intimidation to keep Chicagoans in line to back her, instead of going for hometown favorite Obama.

EMANUEL: Faced similar situation in '08
BUT THAT HOMETOWN appeal turned out to be very strong here – and Emanuel wound up realizing he couldn’t go against it. No matter how strongly Hillary Clinton twisted his arm to back her instead.

I remember it turned out to be a rather pathetic political joke; the extremes to which Rahm Emanuel went to avoid saying anything that would bear a resemblance to an endorsement of either Obama or Clinton. Because he also knew he was damned if he did, and damned if he didn’t.

Just like Kirk.

In the end, that primary election cycle ended, Obama prevailed, and Emanuel made his formal endorsement of Barack (who later chose him to be his White House chief of staff) one day after Hillary was out of the running.

DUCKWORTH: Enjoying Kirk's suffering?
I’M SURE KIRK wishes he could do something similar – just wait until his vote wouldn’t matter one way or the other.

In Kirk’s case, it’s not going to end up so cleanly. He’s going to have to take a stance, because I’m sure his continued silence will be perceived by ideologues as a slap in their face.

Besides, Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth has already started up a campaign – trying to urge her backers to flood Kirk with e-mails telling him to get off his duff and take a stance.

He may wind up getting burned by his political inaction in coming months. It certainly seems that Kirk isn’t going to win no matter what he does.


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