The Republican incumbent is about to learn that when you question your opponent’s patriotism and pedigree, you’d better get your facts straight.
Politics in Illinois has a long history of cringeworthy moments. You may remember a former governor, Rob Blagojevich, who went to prison for trying to sell Barack Obama’s Senate seat. Well, Obama leaves office after two terms in a few months, Blago is still trying to get his conviction overturned, and it looks like Senator Mark Kirk may have been trying to distract his constituents from that embarrassment during last week’s debate with the challenger who wants his job, Representative Tammy Duckworth.
Sen. Kirk’s campaign has been referred to by many, including his own party, as one of the most vulnerable in the nation. He was the first to break with the GOP and offer to meet with Merrick Garland, President Obama’s choice to replace Justice Antonin Scalia. He’s also backed away from endorsing Donald Trump. Unfortunately for him, however, these attempts to appeal to undecideds and Democrats backfire spectacularly when he tries to defend his candidacy against Representative Duckworth.
Earlier this year, a member of Team Kirk sent out a blast on social media that Duckworth “wouldn’t stand for veterans.” That’s a pretty standard attack during a GOP campaign, but for Kirk, the backlash started pretty much as soon as the message went online for a couple of reasons:
- Rep. Duckworth served as a Black Hawk helicopter pilot for the Illinois National Guard during Operation Iraqi Freedom until she was shot down and lost both her legs and the use of part of her arm. She spent the next year recovering at Walter Reed Hospital, and walks using artificial legs.
- Sen. Kirk, on the other hand, ran into trouble a few years ago because he told voters in his district that he was a veteran of Operation Desert Storm, but never served, and later claimed that members of his staff were the ones saying he was the only member of Congress at the time to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he was actually stateside.
But these missteps pale in comparison to Sen. Kirk’s performance during his debate with Rep. Duckworth on October 27th. What should have been a cut-and-dried debate on the issues turned into a firestorm when the topic turned to military service. Rep. Duckworth mentioned her family’s long history of military involvement: “My family has served this nation in uniform, going back to the Revolution. I’m a Daughter of the American Revolution.” (i.e., the DAR, which she even later mentioned by name).
Sen. Kirk snarked back: “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”
Rep. Duckworth’s mother is Asian, but her father’s family traces its lineage back to the Revolutionary War. According to the Daughters of the American Revolution’s website:
“Any woman 18 years or older who can prove lineal, bloodline descent from an ancestor who aided in achieving American independence is eligible to join the DAR. She must provide documentation for each statement of birth, marriage and death, as well as of the Revolutionary War service of her Patriot ancestor.”
The DAR have a pedigree chart on their website you can fill out and bring in to help you figure out if you qualify. It doesn’t say if you can be a member if you’ve transitioned, but I’m sure their legal team is figuring this out as we speak. This is serious stuff, so if you say you’re a member of the DAR, you can probably back it up with enough evidence to overflow your free Dropbox account. So yeah, Senator Kirk, Representative Duckworth’s family does go back that far.
As a resident of Illinois, I’ve been less than impressed with Sen. Kirk’s performance while in office. Yes, he recovered from a stroke during his term, but he had fantastic health care, and a he’s not the first person to go back to work after devastating illness. Yet I notice his website makes repeated mention of the fact that he rebounded, so I guess we’re supposed to vote for him because he recovered from a stroke in 2012?
Kirk’s website also breaks down the state into his “priorities” for each area. Sorry pal, but western Illinois doesn’t need FEMA reform, we need support for farms and small businesses just as much as the central and eastern parts of the state do.
The election is only days away — we’re in the home stretch — and I have a few words of advice for Sen. Kirk: Go down to the mail room, or wherever they keep the office supplies, and start getting the copy paper boxes now. Grab the legal-sized ones if you can, they’re three inches longer than letter-size, and can hold a few more coloring books, or whatever you store in your desk. If you wait until the last minute, you’re going to be stuck stuffing your GI Joe dolls (excuse me, “action figures”) into plastic grocery bags. In other words, Mark, start cleaning out your desk, because this voter can’t wait until November 8th to vote for Tammy Duckworth, so we can kick your smarmy, condescending, so-clueless-even-Alicia-Silverstone-is-saying-‘DUDE’ backside to the curb!