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Digging a hole in the ocean

Wednesday, Jun 2, 2010 - Posted by Rich Miller

* The Chicago editorial boards reacted harshly to the latest Mark Kirk controversy. Tribune

This is not Kirk’s finest moment. It reflects the hubris he shows from time to time. We’d like to hear the congressman acknowledge that the award listed on his bio was inflated, not “misidentified.” We’d like to hear him say he’s sorry. But no.


As someone who was accused of embellishing his credentials as early as 2000, Kirk should know that all such claims can, will and should be checked out. In American politics, military service is like a platinum credit card. […]

Why is it that every time a politician makes an “unintentionally” false claim about his military record he stumbles up — not down — the ladder? Nobody who was a colonel ever says he was a corporal.

Daily Herald

In an age of deep distrust of politicians, Kirk’s mistake - appearing to have assumed for himself credit for an award honoring an entire unit he led during the Serbian conflict in the 1990s - is a serious lapse, for which he has not apologized but lashed out at his opponent. […]

When you factor in other questions - how could he so repeatedly get wrong the name of an award for which he was supposedly so proud? - you cannot avoid other, less flattering conclusions.

Recognizing that, Kirk must apologize for having so misled voters - accidentally or otherwise. It is not unusual for business or community leaders caught in similar resume lapses to have to surrender their jobs

This is the first time in Kirk’s long career that he has received the trifecta of newspaper slams on the same day.

* MSNBC’s First Read asks a good question

But what puzzles us, what makes no sense about this, is that his record — on its own — is admirable. And his opponent Alexi Giannoulias (D), as Kirk points out, never served. So what was he doing? The truth seemed good enough, but apparently wasn’t for Kirk.

That’s bothered me as well. Why embellish a pretty darned stellar record? Why, as the Sun-Times editorial points out, constantly refer to “combat” service when you really just flew over the scene in a plane? Why say you were “deployed,” which is a term of art, when you actually weren’t? Why say you “served in Operation Iraqi Freedom” when, as the Sun-Times again points out, you served “during” the conflict? Greg Sargent follows up on that one

Kirk actually served stateside in the Navy reserves during the Iraq War. The Kirk campaign, which had previously refused to publicly acknowledge the misrepresentation or respond to repeated requests about it, sent me a statement this morning admitting they corrected the false claim:

“Kirk’s 2005 campaign Web site noted this correctly. Unfortunately, the official Web site listed the word ‘in’ instead of ‘during’ but was corrected in 2005.”

The use of “in” rather than “during” is precisely what Richard Blumenthal claimed as his excuse for misrepresenting his own record, though Blumenthal seems to have misled a bit more frequently.

* As the Tribune notes, Kirk has a hubris problem. Every politician has a hubris problem, and every politician tries to put the best spin on his or her past. But, in this country, fibbing about one’s military record has long been considered wholly dishonorable. As someone who has served with distinction and with honor, Kirk should know better. Is he overcompensating for something? Is this just a personality tick which is no big deal, or is there a deeper problem here? And was even last week’s explanation untrue? Maybe

After years of wrongly claiming he had been named U.S. Navy intelligence officer of the year, Republican U.S. Senate candidate Mark Kirk says he corrected the error when his staff discovered it.

Turns out, it was the Navy that gave Kirk a heads-up after reporters inquired about the candidate’s military record.

* Today, Kirk dug the hole deeper by sending out a press release touting a statement by his former commanding officer…

Any suggestion that Mark Kirk did not earn or receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award is incorrect. I would further add, assertions I’ve seen that Mark Kirk embellished or exaggerated his record are ridiculous - he is one of the finest Naval Officers I have had the honor to work with. His intelligence, leadership skills, and keen understanding of global affairs are an asset that the Navy and, today, the Congress are fortunate to enjoy.

1) From what I’ve seen, nobody has ever claimed that Kirk didn’t earn or receive those awards except Mark Kirk, who claimed he alone received a different award.

2) There is no doubt that Kirk has embellished and exaggerated his record.

Stop digging the hole and move on.

…Adding… Ben Smith has one of the better analogies that I’ve seen on this topic

Mark Kirk’s clear exaggeration of an award — he did something along the lines of claiming to have been the MVP when his team won a championship — is winning him a real pounding in the local press, where his attempts to bluster through it seem to have failed totally. [Emphasis added.]

* Related…

* Kirk didn’t tell the whole story

* 2d video shows false claim by Ill. candidate: Another video featuring Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois making false claims of being the Navy’s intelligence officer of the year has surfaced as he campaigns for a seat once held by President Obama.

* False Military Claim Made in Past Kirk Campaign Ad (Update1)

* Will GOP swallow Kirk’s ‘unbridled ego’?

* Coincidence or cover-up?

* Giannoulias courts the Beltway media


  1. - downstate hack - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 10:58 am:

    In credibly stupid by Kirk. Admit he was wrong and say he still is very proud of his service. In fact Giannoulias never served in the military and Kirk should apologize and end this now. A sincere effort to show regret makes this a non issue quickly. Vague excuse keep it simmering.

  2. - Knome Sane - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:01 am:

    So much for his image as the knight in shining armor.

  3. - fedup dem - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:02 am:

    Being the professional flip-flopper that he is, Mark Kirk is probably incapable of recognizing the error of his ways in this mess. However, the electorate, not burdened with this particular incapacity, will now likely send Kirk to the political oblivion that he richly deserves.

  4. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:03 am:

    Rich -

    Question. I certainly don’t want to get banned for pushing “rumors”, so I won’t mention any details but… Is there anything to the story blogger Mike Rogers is pushing on his website?

    I saw two stories this morning about it, but I haven’t heard anything like that before. Is it old news that has already been disproved? The guy published a story about another public figure and got it right, so I don’t know whether to give it credence or not.

    Or is this a “I’m-not-touching-that-with-a-ten-foot-pole” type of story?

  5. - I'm Just Saying - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:04 am:

    I Found this one hilarious…..

    the_mcgone: If Kirk claims he was Starfleet’s youngest captain after taking command of USS Enterprise, he’s looking at wrong Wiki page

  6. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:07 am:

    LHM, I usually take a wait and see attitude on that stuff.

  7. - Lester Holt's Mustache - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:09 am:

    Fair enough, I will do the same. A good day to you, sir…

  8. - Aldyth - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:15 am:

    Whether you support the guy or not, it is sad to see another politician who is at high risk of tossing his career out the window because of lies or leading a double life. Is there a self-destruct button that they are issued along with the Welcome to the United States Congress pamphlet?

  9. - Team America - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:17 am:

    At least 75% of the overblown media coverage on this is the MSM convincing itself that it was not overly hard on Giannoulias and Broadway bank because they have now shown they can beat on Kirk too. At worst, the score is nil-nil, and the voters will choose in November who is more qualified to be in the U.S. Senate based on credentials and not media hyperbole. Assuming that the Blago trial doesn’t change the game once again, of course.

  10. - Screwball - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:20 am:

    Oh it’s about to get worse. The “former commanding officer” is now a contractor at Lockheed Marten whose govt contracts would not at all benefit greatly by bailing Kirk out here. No conflict here, none at all.

  11. - Anon - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    People are acting like he is claiming to have won a Purple Heart or Congressional Medal of Honor. Sheesh. He, in fact, did receive a prestigious award for intelligence work, but mistated the proper title. It was, in fact, largely his contributions that led to the nomination by the Navy for the award, so equating it, as some have done, with taking credit for all the awards anyone in a group has ever received is a false analogy.

    Still waiting on any words of praise from Alexi’s commander, er basketball coach, when he served his team overseas.

  12. - Happens All the Time - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:22 am:

    Senate Dems are going to have a field day with the guy running against Demuzio. That guy has changed his story at least three times.

  13. - FillB - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:31 am:

    Anon 11:22, you’re wrong. Period.

    His unit won the award. He claimed it for himself. Repeatedly. Over a decade. Not once crediting the rest of the unit. There is no evidence (other than the hastily-released letter from a Defense Contractor) that the recognition was made largely based in his contributions.

    And he “exaggerated” his “commanding the war room.” And he “overstated” his role in combat. And he “misstated” his “deployment.” And so on.

    This is a pattern.

    As to Alexi’s service…this is an absurd strawman argument. Fewer than ten percent of the US population have served or are serving. Does this disqualify us from criticizing a POLITICIAN lying about his own record? It does not.

  14. - Oswego Willy - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:33 am:

    Two Cardinal sins - 1) Union credentials that do not check out, and 2) In any way, being disengenuous about any aspect of a military record, (be it term of service, type of service, and/or awards, medals, accomendations, etc.).

    You just CAN’T do those two Cardinal Sins, thus the name.

    Kirk is suppose to also be THE man at the top of the ticket to help Brady where he needs help and to get help from Brady where he needs it. At the same time Kirk does the tango with Brady, Kirk is suppose to help drag IL House and IL Senate races in competetive districts.

    Where do we find ourselves as a party and a slate at the moment, a snapshot if you will;

    We have a guy who should be pummeling a young inexperienced federal candidate, touting his military experience, and yet, Kirk can not help but put himelf in a bad light, inflating a marker he already had against Alexi, while his opponent is also struggling, making it even more difficult task then it would seem it needs to be.

    We have a Guv\LG team that one, fairly or not, paid no income taxes while getting a state salary, who made very conservate social issues in general, not a strong suit mind you, his first issues out of the box after winning the primary, being more divissive, as opposed to consoldating a voting bloc. Brady votes against tax amnesty, the only one, while knowing he had not paid his taxes on time in the past. Brady is facing a candidate, who as an incumbent, who, as a sitting governor, is heck-bent making it difficult for himself, so why won’t Brday let Quinn hang himself out, instead of handing Quinn gift after gift of keeping Quinn in the race.

    We have a LG candidate who claims to be THE ONE candidate … except when transperancy comes a-knockin’ at him. Plummer can NOT get in front of a camera without embarrassing himself or the ticket…heck Phil Ponce couldn’t bail him out when he blanked. While Kirk inflates his record, Plummer “invents” his, loaning monies to continue his house of cards, but we can never ask how he is able to loan himself these monies. Sheila Simon is a failed MAYOR candidate, and as of this snapshop, she is head and shouldes ahead of the 27 year old who makes it clear “You know, I’d gladly match my leadership and my executive experience up to most anybody’s.” What???

    With all due respect, we are conceding the AG and SOS races, unless someone can point to me where and how those campaigns have a strategy out there to take the Dems on the way the IL GOP state party is laid out today…

    Which takes us to our best bets, Rutherford and JBT, with one running against a Chief of Staff of the office they both want, yet the office has been questionable at best, and higher in the ticket at Comptroller, you have JBT in a good spot to get back in against a candidate who looks still very beholden to MJM, so much so, he can vote against something, call the bill back for reconsideration, then be a deciding vote for the bill, AFTER MJM pointed out the errors of his ways…

    I will leave it there, the House and Senate GOP caucuses and campaign committees are so weak and undesireable, where CAN we begin to start over?

    The bottom line is that Kirk was/is(?)/will be(?) the savor for the ticket coattails, and if you take an honest look, the ticket needs someone to have coattails. This Kirk hubris will hurt more than just Kirk … he needs to know that, and we need to know that or we will not be in any position then where we are today.

  15. - sue - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:37 am:

    How is it even remotely possible that the media after giving Blumentahl what was essentially a pass for fabricating his military record out of whole cloth is kicking the snot out of Kirk for a minor transgression for which he immediately took responsibility. Blumenthal barely said he was sorry

  16. - FillB - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:40 am:

    By the way, I have worked for at least two political candidates (that I remember specifically) over the years who earned unit citations IN COMBAT in Vietnam who would not allow me to call them “Decorated” veterans, because, they argued, they had earned unit citations, and should not claim individual credit.

  17. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:41 am:

    FIllB is an authority. He worked for at least 2 political canididates. Couldn’t get a real job apparently.

  18. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:42 am:


    political party affiliation probably had nothing to do with it (snark).

  19. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:45 am:

    Anon says, “He, in fact, did receive a prestigious award for intelligence work, but mistated the proper title.”

    Kirk did NOT receive a prestigious award for intelligence work.

    His unit did. ALL the men and women he served with did. Not just him.

    Kirk did his superiors, his colleagues and his subordinates a disservice by claiming for the past 10 years that their collective honor was his and his alone.

    A “misstatement” would be slipping into laymen’s terms every now and then. Something like saying you’re a “professor” instead of an “adjunct professor” or that your unit received an “Intelligence Unit of the Year” award and that you had a hand in it.

    Instead, this is clearly a flat-out lie, repeated in multiple media — from C-SPAN and the Congressional Record to his taxpayer-funded Congressional website and campaign ads — and repeated over and over for a decade even up until literally last week.

    That goes way beyond “misstatement” and into the very definition of a lie.

    Kirk knew it was a unit honor and not an individual honor.

    Moreover, beyond this lie Kirk has also made claims of combat service in Kosovo, service in Iraq, and leading the Pentagon War Room … which he’s now actively scrubbing from his websites.

    Finally, if Mr. Fearnow’s intent 10+ years ago was to recognize then-Lt. Cmdr. Kirk’s individual service (as Mr. Fearnow now claims in this 6/1/10 letter) then why didn’t he nominate him for the individual honor instead of this group honor? There is a Rufus Taylor Award available for individuals too.

    Fearnow’s letter does little more than muddy the waters on Kirk’s behalf.

  20. - CircularFiringSquad - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:47 am:

    Thanks once again to CommandoKirk and his warrior/consultants for pushing Lexi to the lead.
    All he did was call you what you are. A faker.

    Let’s give him credit for his service.

    Let’s not ask why he waited until later in life to enlist. Or should we?

    Let’s now realize that when the Commando was decked out in his fancy flight suit he was not very near hostile fire. No finger on the rocket launcher trigger. No bayonet clenched in the jaw.

    Sometimes in another country or another continent. Sometimes in a office,sipping a Fresca.
    The experience he so dearly wanted to make him look macho now looks …..oh we cannot think of a better term….limp.

  21. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:47 am:


    How can you say Blumenthal got a pass? He has been pilloried about this for weeks. It led Orrin Hatch to propose a law making it a crime punishable by up to six months in prison for lying about your service record (though apparently that only applies to Dems).

    And Anonymous 1122, denial is not an option. Those who are questioning Kirk on this are not “claiming” it is a pattern. We have several examples of exactly the same kind of mindless puffing up of his resume. And I agree with Rich, it’s SOOOOOOOOOOOOOO stupid since his real record is quite impressive.

  22. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:52 am:

    What are the odds that Kirk will pull out of the Senate race?

  23. - Rob - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:52 am:

    What’s interesting is that Kirk’s lie clearly won’t hurt him with his donor base or his political infrastructure. They’re pretty committed to maintaining a GOP presence in their district, and Kirk is the only possibility for them during this election cycle. However, this is clearly the sort of image and credibility problem that will have an impact with voters. A certain percentage if voters just won’t vote for a liar with character issues, even if he’s in the right party.

    Framing the question of how this will impact Kirk in terms of donors vs. voters, money vs. man on the street is a loser for Kirk. It will be interesting to see if Giannoulias’ people pick up on that.

  24. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    Oh, and I’m not sure why we need to wait and see on the “other” story. The problem for Kirk is that by attracting a spotlight on the broader “truthiness” of his record, it begs questions about the other matter. Apparently the blogger who posted about Kirk’s “confession” on this is pretty reliable. If he was a Dem it wouldn’t matter too much but for Kirk’s base, it’s the third rail. Once he came out against repealing don’t ask don’t tell, it was inevitably coming back.

  25. - N'ville - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    Kirk has absolutely nothing to worry about…he’ll just get Jim Edgar to cut him a nice commercial in front of his fireplace…

  26. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:53 am:

    As the Tribune notes, Kirk has a hubris problem. Every politician has a hubris problem, and every politician tries to put the best spin on his or her past. But, in this country, fibbing about one’s military record has long been considered wholly dishonorable. As someone who has served with distinction and with honor, Kirk should know better. Is he overcompensating for something? Is this just a personality tick which is no big deal, or is there a deeper problem here?

    We have seen this repeatedly. Even John McCain was attacked by the opposition party wanting voters do doubt McCain’s story. Kerry’s record was questioned. Bush II was claimed to have been AWOL. So we are no longer in the “fibbing about one’s military record has long been considered wholly dishonorable” era, thanks to political spin. Thanks to politics, our veterans are no longer immune from political attacks and their military records are considered fair game, not sacrosanct.

    What this has done over the years has been dilute political attacks themselves. Take a look at Blumenthal. Not only will he survive what is a far worse string of dishonorable lies, but will likely be elected to the US Senate from Connecticut.

    When military records, even honorable ones, are ripe for political attack, voters become immune to any political attacks involving military records. If a Blumental can survive - so can a Kirk.

    Kirk is guilty of inflating his resume. It is something we see daily in the world of political spin. It has gotten to the point where votes expect it.

    If you are wondering if a political attack has traction, you have to consider the political narratives going on within the campaigns. If the “easy” narrative isn’t impacted, then the political attack will be sloughed off, especially this far from the General. This entire, “he said-they said” and doubling down from Kirk is how political attacks are diluted to the point where they are not felt significantly in November.

  27. - "Clerks" fan - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:57 am:

    So Kirk flubs this and won’t apologize but instead attacks Alexi for not having served.

    Jason Plumber won’t release his tax returns after almost everyone else (including his running mate) does. And when asked about it attacks Quinn over his appointee’s.

    Whos are these two listening to? Say your sorry release your returns and end the continous news cycle on it. The voters forgive and forget (mostly forget) very quickly.

  28. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Sue and DuPage Dan,

    How is railing on the guy for weeks now “the media giving Blumenthal a pass”?

    What planet are you guys on?

    The (not-so) liberal New York Times broke the Blumenthal story by actually ignoring parts of speeches where he clarified that he did NOT serve in Vietnam.

    But I guess the conservative media did its job in convincing you guys that Blumenthal is worse than Mao, eh?

    Back to Illinois… If you’re so upset about Blumenthal “misstating” his military service, why aren’t you equally upset about Kirk doing the exact same thing repeatedly, knowingly and in widespread-fashion for the past decade?

    Half of his Navy career Kirk has been lying about these unit honors, claiming them as his own, alongside fallacies about combat service in Kosovo, commanding the Pentagon War Room, serving in Iraq….

    Finally, blaming his opponent for Kirk’s own lies is not “taking responsibility”. It’s just mouthing the words. (And Blumenthal did as much owning up as Kirk has.)

    Really, what planet are you guys on?

  29. - train111 - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:58 am:

    Indeed Kirk has nothing to worry about. Once the Rod Blagojevich dog and pony show gets going, it will suck the life out of every other political story in Illinois.


  30. - SMT - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:59 am:

    But what about Alexi’s false claims of being a banker and all the banking experience he does not actually have. How come no one is jumping on that?

  31. - FillB - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 11:59 am:

    Wow, clever, rational retorts, Anonymous (if that is your real name). What’s next, going to call me a poopiehead?

    It isn’t a pattern because I say so. It’s a pattern that’s pretty well demonstrated in Rich’s post.

    And making fun of me for having worked for a political candidate? Really? That’s kind of making fun of a pretty solid chunk of those who comment on this blog.

  32. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:02 pm:

    I agree with Chicago Cynic. You’ve got to wonder if being untruthful (allegedly, perhaps, if true), in his personal life may have bled over into a looser relationship with the truth elsewhere.

  33. - Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:03 pm:

    SMT- I can’t tell if you’re being sarcastic, since people have been jumping on Alexi for that — here and elsewhere — for a very long time. As usual, the choice in Illinois is between imperfect and really imperfect. Or is that really imperfect and really imperfect?

  34. - ZC - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:04 pm:

    Speaking as a liberal Democrat, please people leave rumors about Mark Kirk’s sexuality rest. Who the heck cares? And any liberal Dems out there who are intentionally trying to beat this up so conservative Republicans will be turned off Kirk, I call that gay-bashing by proxy - shame on you.

    Let’s focus on Rich’s thread and Kirk’s problems with telling the truth in his _public_ record, as a military man - which is absolutely fair game - not about his private life. To which he ought to be entitled.

  35. - Rob - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:05 pm:

    I almost forgot about the breaking gay story. I wonder whether Illinois Republicans want a win badly enough to vote for a man with character issues who also happens to be a closeted homosexual. Doesn’t speak well of their commitment to their principles, if they do.

  36. - ShadyBillBrady - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:05 pm:

    So, SMT, you are wanting the GOP to claim that Alexi was not really a banker and doesn’t really have that experience?

    Guess that would make it hard to claim that he’s at fault for the bank’s collapse wouldn’t it?

    Pick a story and stick with it.

  37. - Rich Miller - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:06 pm:

    ===Once the Rod Blagojevich dog and pony show gets going, it will suck the life out of every other political story in Illinois.===

    I wouldn’t be so sure of that.

  38. - jaded voter - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:08 pm:

    Kirk shows himself to be a blowhard & exaggerator…hmmm how unusual in politics.

    This changes nothing. Alexi G is a joke. No amount of money can sell the spoiled rich kid, failed banker, way out of his depth Alexi. Kirk [the braggert] wins by default.

    Again, a whole lot o’ nothin’.

    If the Dems had a substantial candidate maybe this could mean something. But they don’t.

  39. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:10 pm:

    Part of the issue here is “payback.”

    The right went after Blumenthal and their attacks gained quite a bit of traction. That set off a lot of inquiries into other politicians and what happened? Well, Mark Kirk happened. As a result, the Republicans simply CAN’T STAND that their smear campaign back-fired. Now there’s the whole issue involving Kirk’s lifestyle, which is slowly coming to light. The rabid right will support the guy. The Dems will support Alexi. Its the independents, the fence-sitters who will decide this election. And right now…it don’t look good for Mr. Kirk.

  40. - Son of Ben - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:11 pm:

    Is Kirk guilty of bluster, hubris, embelishment, exaggerations? Yes, yes, yes, yes. Should he be criticized and will this hurt? Yes. Should he have tried to be more sincere with apology? Yes.

    Is the mistake fatal? No. This year is too important, and the Democratic leadership in charge of us at the local, county, state and federal levels have a long and recent track record of continuously fouling up. At both state and federal leadership levels, there is a discordant notion of what should be done compared with that of the population.

    To the hubris problem, where’s Alexi on hubris? He’s in his early 30s. The last few months have made clear his ascendency to party Senate candidate was attributable to family money, political connections (some sordid), and the same wave of irrational real estate exuberance that befell much of the rest of the nation. None of which should qualify him as a leader.

    Instead of recognizing that Hoffman is really the people’s candidate of the Democratic party, that he himself is young, and needs to pay some more dues, and that now is the time to bow out instead of soldier on, Alexi soldiers on.

    Must be a little arrogant.

  41. - A.B. - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:13 pm:

    While we are discussing this we have to remember that this entire situation evolved over a decade. The following statement from Mark Kirk’s commanding officer should be taken into account:

    As a retired Navy Captain and Mark Kirk’s commanding officer during Operation Allied Force, there are two things that have deeply troubled me since I read the Washington Post’s story about Mark’s intelligence officer award.

    First, the complete lack of a benefit of the doubt – the idea that someone could make an honest mistake has become so foreign that the immediate assumption has become – you misrepresented or worse you lied. In Mark’s case neither is factual.

    And second, that an honest mistake related to the identification of a military award is the same as pretending to be in Vietnam when you were not. This also doesn’t apply to Mark Kirk

    Mark Kirk served under my command in Aviano, Italy, during Operation Allied Force – the Kosovo campaign. For his exceptional service as the lead intelligence officer of a combat intelligence action team – the largest EA-6B intelligence shop in the history of naval aviation which he assembled – I nominated then Lieutenant Commander Kirk for a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award. He received both.

    When I nominated Mark for the Rufus Taylor award I thought it was more specific to Mark and not his team. But the reality is, there would have been no team without Mark Kirk’s leadership and there certainly would have been no award. I can certainly understand why he would have referred to this award over the years as intelligence officer of the year – it’s how I viewed the award. And in actuality, the two awards in question are of equal stature and significance.

    Mark Kirk is the finest intelligence officer I have ever served with – hands down. His wealth of knowledge during this conflict put him in a position to take charge of intelligence members from the four deployed squadrons and meld them into a combat intelligence action team.

    Any suggestion that Mark Kirk did not earn or receive the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal and the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award is incorrect. I would further add, assertions I’ve seen that Mark Kirk embellished or exaggerated his record are ridiculous – he is one of the finest Naval Officers I have had the honor to work with. His intelligence, leadership skills, and keen understanding of global affairs are an asset that the Navy and, today, the Congress are fortunate to enjoy.

    Captain Clay Fearnow
    United States Navy (Retired)
    Former Commanding Officer, VAQ-209

  42. - SMT - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:13 pm:

    Shady. No, I want Alexi to claim that he really does not have the banking experience he claims to have had. I believe his brother already outed him on it, so why doesn’t he fess up. Besides, didn’t he already say that he made some miniscule amount of loans for the bank and they had no effect on the bank going under because in the grand scheme of things they were a small percentage of the total? Why not make it official and tell everyone he is not a banker. Come to think of it, if he were a banker, or a good one at that, why would he twist the arm of the bank to make a loan to that suit company when the bank said it was a bad loan? I know, it looks good for political reasons but it shows you how much he knows about banking.

  43. - Deep South - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:13 pm:

    As for Blago…what are the odds that he cops a plea before the trial gets under way?

  44. - VanillaMan - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:16 pm:

    Republicans who care about a military career will stay with Kirk because Giannoulais has no military career. Independants who care about a military career will stay with Kirk because Giannoulais has no military career. Democrats who care about military careers will stay with Kirk because Giannoulais has no military career.

    Everyone else who doesn’t care about military careers will only care about truthfulness from this candidate. If the candidate responds, then it becomes a “he said-opposing party says” political spin. Clearly voters understand that Kirk served in the military and Giannoulais did not. So, any arguments over who is credited for what military award doesn’t negate that fact.

    Arguing over Kirk’s explanations on this is a waste of time. Voters need to see that Kirk’s actions here are repeated enough to be a concern.

    Giannoulais’ problem is due to the fact that we are undergoing a fiscal calamity in Illinois, at the same time his family business is. There is a tie-in. There is a sense of morose. Who wants to vote for a failing banker’s son during economic hard times? Giannoulias has a tougher time sloughing off his Broadway Bank problem than Kirk has with his inflated resume problem because Giannoulais’ problem is personified through voter’s wallets, while Kirk’s isn’t.

    And Rob_N - you never would have voted for Kirk under any circumstances, so your views are too biased to be taken seriously. I have voted for Giannoulais in the past and had hoped he would build a successful resume in state office. I think he has done OK. Not enough for the US Senate, but good enough to be reelected. I would have voted for him if he ran again for Treasurer. Giannoulais lost me when he tried to reach for the brass ring with his resume, at this time. I seriously doubt you would ever be open minded enough to consider Kirk in a similar way.

  45. - just sayin' - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:24 pm:

    Mark Kirk has always had serious problems with the truth. When a person lies, even when the truth would work just as well, it really starts becoming a pathological problem.

  46. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:24 pm:


    I agree with you but it’s the classic closeted Republican problem. Nobody on the left cares except when you show yourself to be a hypocrite and then everyone cares. That’s the line of attack in the other blog post and that’s where the problem rests.

  47. - Pat Robertson - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:34 pm:

    Maybe exagerrating is a Navy thing? When I was in, I filled in the “rank or rating” box on more than one form as “Czar of all the Russias.” Hope no one ever digs up one of those out of my less-than-perfectly-honest past.

  48. - Sueann - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:36 pm:

    To me we have two weak choices this upcoming election. This shows that the primary elections are, in fact, important in Illinois. However, as always, low turnouts and so on and so forth are the norm in a primary here. Who do we have to blame other than ourselves for this current dilema?

  49. - 47th Ward - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:39 pm:


    If this is the only thing Kirk is lying about, you have a point. If there is something else out there, katy-bar the door. Oh, and when Kirk lied again in his explanation about his first lie, that doesn’t help either.

    Just when it looked like Brady-Quinn was a race to the bottom, here comes Kirk-Giannoulias to retake the lead in “weirdest campaign ever”.

  50. - Responsa - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:41 pm:

    Look people, neither Alexi or Mark are gonna drop out of the race no matter how much partisans on either side have wet dreams about that, and no matter how much sleaze is slung by the opposing campaigns and their surrogates. Face it, this is what we will have until November. Is everybody happy with this little limbo contest? How much lower can it go? Reading some of the comments on this thread, I actually shudder to think about how much lower it can go. G-D help us.

  51. - right side - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:47 pm:

    The Kirk campaign is acting like a gambling addict. It just can’t let it go. They keep sending our press releases and stirring things up. Enough already, let us enjoy our Gov. goofy trial!!

  52. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 12:52 pm:


    You must not have read my past posts on Kirk very carefully. I have supported him on some issues in the past.

    And FYI I did not support Giannoulias in the primary. Giannoulias can sink or swim on his own.

  53. - dupage dan - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 1:41 pm:

    Hey Rob_N,

    You’re right, the groundswell of overwhelming support for demanding the withdrawal of Blumenthal from the campaign is earsplitting….in it’s silence.

    For Kirk, this, too, will pass.

    Now, back to the trial!

  54. - ThePiper - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:00 pm:

    Another great day for Kirk. From “Intelligence Office of the Year, 1999″, to “Least Intelligent Candidate, 2010″. Move over SLC!

  55. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:14 pm:

    –Even John McCain was attacked by the opposition party wanting voters do doubt McCain’s story. Kerry’s record was questioned. Bush II was claimed to have been AWOL.–

    McCain’s record is unquestionable. You really can’t fake it when you’re shot down and spend years in the Hanoi Hilton getting your ass kicked.

    Kerry was a Beacon Hill Brahmin who, even thoiugh he could have pulled class rank as so many others did, volunteered and was sent to Vietnam. There’s a very long list of Chicken Hawks who could have done the same but chose not to.

    Bringing us to W and Cheney. Their record of military service speaks for itself. You can’t compare Bush and Cheney to McCain and Kerry.

  56. - wordslinger - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:21 pm:

    We’re about to find out if Kirk can take a punch. Or two.

  57. - MikeMacD - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:24 pm:

    My understanding of Intel work is that of gathering factually precise information, analyzing the data and presenting it, as well as conjectured conclusions, to the appropriate people so they may make the best decisions possible. Rep. Kirk hasn’t done such a good job on something he should know about, his own biography.

  58. - (618) Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:27 pm:

    What we now know is that Kirk will lie. Kirk will lie to cover up a lie. Kirk will try to blame others for his lies. Kirk will bring others into his lies to try to cover up his past lies. He has lied in every campaign he has ever been in. Kirk is a liar who cannot be believed.

  59. - A.B. - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:41 pm:

    618 that is an awfully simplified and biased perspective for someone when what we actually know is that the guy who nominated Kirk for the award has stated, in writing, that he thought it was the Intelligence Officer of the Year Award. I the CO thought that’s what he got, then is it too difficult to believe that Kirk ALSO made the same mistake?

    However, if you insist on following the conspiracy theory, then maybe we should go back and discuss whether Giannoulias intentionally made loans to the mob with the intent of buying favors from the mob?

  60. - (618) Democrat - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 2:58 pm:


    The award is just one of Kirk’s many lies, and it was a lie, over and over again, for years. Then he drags his staff into it.

    Go ahead and discuss what ever you wish. That will not change the facts on Kirk.

  61. - A.B. - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 3:14 pm:

    @ 618 so he has many lies, but the only one you are pointing to is the issue around the name of the award he received?

  62. - Way South of the Border - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 3:52 pm:

    Well, there is also this one (from Kirk’s web site):

    “the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

  63. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 4:12 pm:

    DuPage Dan,

    Bill Press was calling for Blumenthal to drop out.

    Chris Matthews has been on his case for weeks.

    Sen. Orrin Hatch even wrote a law specifically in order to criminalize Blumenthal’s behavior.

    Etc. Etc. Etc.

    And now Kirk has been proven to be doing the same thing you’re complaining about re Blumenthal.

    …You’re sorta right. It’s not ear-splitting. It’s mind-numbing.

  64. - BigTwich - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 4:19 pm:

    “. . . what we actually know is that the guy who nominated Kirk for the award has stated, in writing, that he thought it was the Intelligence Officer of the Year Award. I the CO thought that’s what he got, then is it too difficult to believe that Kirk ALSO made the same mistake?”

    This from Intelligence Officers? It explains a lot.

  65. - Rob_N - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 4:51 pm:

    Wordslinger says, “We’re about to find out if Kirk can take a punch. Or two.”

    He clearly can’t.

    Remember back to last summer? Kirk wouldn’t commit to the Senate race because he was waiting on Lisa Madigan. Then she announced she was running for re-election to AG and Kirk told the world he was going to get in, told all his GOP friends on Capitol Hill, made the rounds “under-the-radar” to leak it to the media, etc.

    But, then Andy McKenna said he might stay in and Kirk through a hissy fit. He complained to Chris Cillizza at WaPo and said he was dropping out. Then he backtracked and told Cillizza he never said that.

    Very weird.

    And that was just for his announcing his candidacy.

    And now, to call Giannoulias a goon after Giannoulias actually praised his real record, but questioned why Kirk felt a need to embellish it so? (Read the Trib’s editorial. Giannoulias is quoted as saying: “I think he’s got an honorable record,” Giannoulias said. “I don’t know why he feels the need to embellish the record and not tell the truth.)

    Kirk has thin skin.

  66. - Chicago Cynic - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 6:33 pm:

    This is still Kirk’s race to lose. But it seems that every R&D statewide candidate for the top two jobs is determined to try and destroy their own candidacies. Between this, “I will make Barack Obama a one term president,” and “I will lead the charge to repeal Obamacare,” Kirk’s working awfully hard to make this a race.

    Oh for a candidate without all the baggage to take him on…oh well.

  67. - The REAL Anonymous fka Anonymous - Wednesday, Jun 2, 10 @ 9:53 pm:

    Very weird.

    Hmmm…I have this feeling that this is going to be one of the “weirdest” elections this State has ever seen. And it’s not going to be a good “weird”. (Get some rest now, while you can, Rich.)

  68. - Peggy SO-IL - Thursday, Jun 3, 10 @ 12:04 am:

    A Republican who isn’t really on board with the GOP platform lives a double life. They’re Dem-lite. A real Dem can beat a Dem-lite any time, if that’s what the people are looking for.

    I haven’t seen how Kirk has worded the naming of the award that went to his group, not to him alone. Did he say, “I was awarded X award–AND NO ONE ELSE GOT IT! Yee-ha!” If it’s just listed as a bullet, name of award only, then it’s hard to say it’s described inappropriately.

    NRO says the correction was made on his campaign docs years ago and is not a current mistake, so let’s move on:

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

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