Saturday, October 29, 2016

It was nice knowin’ ya, Kirk. Welcome to the Senate, Tammy Duckworth

The most embarrassing part of Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., managing to put his foot in his mouth during his debate this week with Democratic challenger Tammy Duckworth?
KIRK: Still removing foot from mouth

It’s the fact that Kirk gave Donald Trump and his political camp a legitimate reason to mock the man.

KIRK HAS BEEN going out of his way to distance himself from the Trump presidential campaign for being too sexist and bigoted to be representative of the people. So naturally, Kirk makes a remark during the debate that is interpreted as an ethnic slur on Duckworth – who was born in Thailand to parents with U.S. citizenship who lived and worked in several Southeast Asian nations before she settled in this country at age 16.

Anytime that Trump political operative Kellyanne Conway can call out Kirk for stupidity, you know is a bad moment that you don’t recover from politically.

The fact that Conway used Twitter to make her attack likely only makes it all-the-more lasting. That tweet ain’t goin’ noplace. It likely will keep cropping up for the remainder of Kirk’s life, and may even make it into his eventual obituary. That attempt at an apology he made Friday? Already forgotten about!

So what was it that happened during Thursday night’s debate between Kirk – a former Naval Reserve officer – and Duckworth, who wants to make sure the world knows she lost her legs while serving in combat during the Gulf War of the early 1990s?

DUCKWORTH HAS ALWAYS made a point of letting people know of her support for military issues and causes, and likes to talk of how she comes from a military family. Supposedly, family members fought as far back in time as the American revolution.
DUCKWORTH: Illinois' new senator?

Which could be true, as her father served in the Marine Corps and he was far from the first in the family to enlist for a stretch of military service. Except that Repubicans usually want to believe that if they were a "legitimate" military family, Republican partisan genes would have taken root. The fact that Tammy turned out Democrat must make her suspect -- in GOP minds.

Kirk came up with the wisecrack that I’m sure he thinks is particularly witty and was meant to put that woman in her place. As in, “I forgot that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

The VoteVets organization on Friday trashed Kirk. Group Chairman Jon Soltz called the wisecrack “racist” and said, “Mark Kirk can say whatever he wants, but (Thursday) night he made clear that he will run his campaign, and the office of senator, the same way Donald Trump has run his campaign – based on racial and ethnic slurs, insults and tarring non-whites as not sufficiently American.”
CLINTON: Equally responsible for Duckworth

DUCKWORTH HERSELF ISSUED her own critical statement, although the key part of her effort was less to blast Kirk than to ask people for money. “Can you chip in right now to help me respond to this disgraceful attack?” she said.

Which makes me wonder how she would have asked for the campaign contribution if Kirk had kept his mouth shut and behaved himself Thursday night.

The sad thing is this won’t be the reason that Kirk likely loses his re-election bid a week-and-a-half from now. His campaign already was lagging due to the fact that Illinois leans Democrat and likely has a majority of voters fully comfortable with both of the state’s U.S. senators being of the Democratic persuasion.

In the interest of disclosure, I should point out that I was among those voters when I cast my own ballot this week through early vote. Perhaps Kirk would have a better chance of getting re-elected if he were seeking the Indiana seat – although even there Democrats are hopeful (although maybe too optimistically) they can win this year.

IT’S ALL ABOUT the concept that Trump has spread so much rhetorical manure that he’s given an overall stink to the concept of being a Republican.
CONWAY: Used Twitter to treat Kirk like a twit

Which is why it is sad that Kirk would get caught up in this particular bit of nonsense – since it probably gives Trump and his backers some sense of cockiness in thinking they would have looked out for Kirk if he had really been one of their own.

But since he wasn’t, then forget him!

And the likely outcome will be a Duckworth victory. Only she had better be careful, because her re-election bid of 2022 will not have a presidential campaign to leech off of. She’ll have to convince Illinoisans she’s worthy of retention – unless she wants to be nothing more than a one-termer.


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