* My latest Sun-Times column talked about Congressman Kirk’s rightward lurch and what it may mean…
I try hard not to hate. Hating is bad for your health. Plus, the holiday season has officially begun, so hating should be put off until at least after New Year’s Day.
But I have to admit that I absolutely hate the infantile, ear-splitting, hyperpartisan politics that emanates from our nation’s capital.
So, I probably should’ve known better when Republican Rep. Mark Kirk announced his bid for the U.S. Senate.
Soon afterwards, a national Democratic operative called to see what I thought about Kirk’s chances. I told her that Kirk would probably be a lock.
As a liberal Republican on issues such as gun control, abortion and gay rights, and as a strong voice within his party for paying attention to the needs and wants of suburbia, he fit the ideal Illinois profile.
One of the biggest problems that Republicans have had in this state, I explained, is that their nationally conservative party has scared the living daylights out of suburban women, who tend toward liberalism on guns and abortion and are more open to discussing gay rights. Without those votes, the statewide math doesn’t add up. You just can’t win without them, as the extraordinary Democratic surge in suburbia over the past decade or so clearly has shown.
Not only that, I told the operative, but the Chicago media tends to dote on socially liberal Republicans. No way, I said, would the city’s media turn on Mark Kirk.
The flaw in my argument was that I failed to take into account Kirk’s long exposure to DC-itis, first as a staffer and then as an elected official.
After initially citing strong national security concerns as a reason why he voted for the “cap and trade” energy bill in the U.S. House, Kirk flip-flopped almost immediately after he announced for Senate and blamed his vote on his congressional district’s liberal bent. Why? Because his party’s right wing viscerally opposes the legislation and it has become a touchstone issue, so he abandoned principle for party.
Then, Kirk reached out to former vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who is way more unpopular with women than she is with men, but is the darling of his party’s far right.
And if that weren’t enough, Kirk’s head all but exploded along party lines when the Obama administration announced that it wanted to buy a state prison and transfer in terrorist detainees currently held at Guantanamo Bay.
Kirk’s over the top, hyperbolic, error-riddled, extremely partisan fear tantrum finally tipped the media against him. Just about every significant newspaper in Illinois, including this one, which endorsed Kirk’s re-election last year, mocked Kirk’s meltdown and severely chastised him for needless and baseless fear-mongering.
The general election is 11 months away, and the Republican primary is Feb. 2, so I figure Kirk will lurch back leftward sooner or later. Maybe that’ll be enough to regain his mojo with the media. Reporters and editorial writers could just chalk up his recent rhetoric to standard-issue politics and move on.
But I think there’s more at work here than just the usual rightward drift during a Republican primary. Kirk is clearly showing that he’s far too susceptible to our disgusting and mindless national political wars, which endlessly play out on those idiotic cable TV “news” channels. And all this makes me question how Kirk would behave if he were elected next November.
Somehow, Kirk needs to forget the stupid and divisive D.C. wars and find his own center and stick with it. Maybe some holiday introspection is in order.
* Governor takes first step to close and sell Thomson prison to feds: In documents filed with a legislative review panel, Quinn’s prison chief outlined why the administration thinks selling the facility to the federal government to house prisoners from the terrorist detention camp at Guantanamo Bay makes sense.
* Editorial: Get politics out of discussion about Thomson prison: But in the simmering atmosphere of a young election campaign, discussion appears to be the last thing Cross or any other political leader really wants. Partisan battle lines were drawn virtually the moment it was proposed to shift more than 100 Guantanamo Bay detainees to the underused prison in tiny Thomson, and the only talk either side appeared to want to engage in was to show how far it could puff out its chest.
* Lawmaker wants debate on housing Gitmo detainees in Illinois
* Illinois House Republicans call for slowdown on fast-paced Thomson prison deal: Steve Brown, Madigan’s spokesman, said today that holding hearings would be unproductive until there is a firm proposal from the federal government and an action plan from Quinn. But Brown said watching Republicans “flip-flopping” on whether to oppose or support the Thomson site has been “entertaining.”
* Lawmaker pushes to fast-track hearings on ‘Illinois Gitmo’ plan
* Quinn leaves port board hanging: Selling the state prison in Thomson to the federal government could bring jobs to northwestern Illinois, but officials in the region also are gearing up to launch what someday could become a major development along the Mississippi River.
* Irony alive and well in Illinois: Gov. Pat Quinn’s push to sell the mostly vacant maximum-security prison in Thomson to the federal government has not only generated controversy among Republicans, but it is riddled with irony.
* Congressman Has More Concerns About Thomson Prison Proposal