Kirk’s trying to dodge blame for false claims
If you’re a politician who pumps up your military record, you should admit it, beg for forgiveness and move on as best you can.
But, please, don’t insult the public by pretending your exaggerations were all honest errors. Once — maybe. More than once — not a chance. This, unfortunately, is a lesson Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk has not learned.
Kirk, who has served 21 years in the Naval Reserve, is getting hammered — deservedly so — for making himself out to be the combat vet and James Bond he never was.
But rather than taking full responsibility for several false claims, he’s blaming everything and every- award for 1999 was given to Kirk’s unit — not to him personally.
Kirk’s spokesman said, “We found the award was misidentified and corrected the name,” but the Post said the website was corrected only after the newspaper began inquiries.
† Kirk further said on a video, “I command the war room of the Pentagon.”
He does? As part of his Naval Reserve duty, Kirk works weekends as a deputy intelligence director at the war room — officially known as the National Military Command Center — but the commander usually is a one-star general.
† Kirk’s congressional website bragged, until last week, of his “combat service in Kosovo.”
Retracted. The word ‘‘combat’’ has been removed from his website.
† Kirk claimed on his website in 2005 to be “the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom,” according to the blog Nitpicker.
An exaggeration. Kirk served during Operation Iraqi Freedom, as his corrected website now says.
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.
Just two weeks ago, Connecticut’s Democratic Senate candidate, Richard Blumenthal, got caught claiming he had served in Vietnam. Blumenthal had served in the Marine Reserves during the war, but never left the United States.
Blumenthal, predictably, admitted guilt to only “totally unintentional” errors.
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.
Mark Kirk likes to present himself as a moderate Republican who, if elected to the Senate, would be adept at reaching across the aisle to work with Democrats.
But to do so, his word must be his bond.
The voters of Illinois have reason to doubt.
Republican Congressman Mark Kirk is having an Alexander Haig moment. He’ll probably recover from it. But it isn’t pretty — or over yet. Haig was secretary of state in 1981 when President Ronald Reagan was shot in an assassination attempt.
Haig, who had his own presidential ambitions, took to the microphones to tell reporters that with Reagan seriously wounded, he was in charge.
“As of now, I am in control here at the White House,” he declared.
If that was supposed to assure a worried nation, it missed the mark.
It looked instead — for all the world to see — like a display of unbridled ego and opportunism.
It was also, by the way, not exactly accurate, given that a transfer of power had not been made and there was the small constitutional matter of the vice president being ahead of Haig in the line of succession.
That Haig moment has been repeated, parodied and made a permanent part of his biography.
Which takes us back to Kirk’s problem of repeated declarations