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The Mechanics
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IL-SEN Tue Oct 20 2009

Giannoulias Hits the Right Note

Maybe a primary challenger (well, technically he has one) would do Mark Kirk well. Kirk's virtually unimpeded path to the Republican nomination for the Senate election next November seems to have allowed his campaign to slouch, and focus on political considerations over policy ramifications. There was his bizarre admission that he voted for the Cap'n Trade bill because it was politically popular for his constituency at the time (ie, the residents of the north suburban 10th Congressional District), but that he wouldn't vote for it if he represented Illinois generally; and then there were his inappropriately-timed Tweets.

Now, Kirk has come out against health care reform--not a particular bill, but "health care reform"--seemingly because it will mean unpopularity at the polls: "Several dozen House Democrats risk losing their jobs if they vote for reform."

So? Isn't the point that we need health care reform? Isn't that a reason to laud these Democrats--that they'd risk their jobs doing something they believed in, even if its wrong? Perhaps its "minority syndrome"--knowing that your actions are essentially ineffectual makes you lose sight of the real-world ramifications of your actions, putting everything into a political advantage context.

The Giannoulias campaign hit back immediately, Giannoulias releasing this statement:

It's sad that Congressman Kirk would rather win an election than lower the cost of health care for Illinois families, but with these words and ten years of voting with big drug and insurance companies to block reform, Congressman Kirk has made it clear he puts politics ahead of our families.

Duh. By changing only a couple words--"reform" to "that bill"--Kirk could have saved himself from this obvious hit. Instead, he casts himself as just another Republican obstructionist--and whatever his advisors or the NRSC or Charlie Cook is telling him, Illinois is still a Democratic state in the sense that there is little visceral grassroots allegiance to the worn Republican talking points of free markets. Illinoisans like most Americans support health care reform, and being against it solely (or apparently) because it's unpopular just feeds the image of Kirk as an opportunist that the Democrats have been sketching for the last few months.

 
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Teresa L / October 20, 2009 4:22 PM

Read the article - Kirk did NOT come out against healthcare reform -

“The job of the opposition is not just to point out all the flaws in legislation coming to the floor but to offer ideas for how you would fix it,” Kirk said.”

and

“Meanwhile, a pair of moderates — Pennsylvania Rep. Charlie Dent and Kirk — introduced a more modest bill that Kirk characterizes as “incremental, practical change” that focuses on cost cutting and maintaining the relationship between doctors and their patients.”

Dan / October 21, 2009 9:31 AM

Nicely spun, Teresa. Kirk and his Republican brethren are dead set against any sort of health care reform so long as it is in any fashion created, supported, or endorsed by Democrats. His credibility on this issue is zero.

The Kirk talking points are from the current national GOP textbook, almost verbatim - tort reform, insurance available across state lines, etc. It's intrinsically insincere, as it's a lazy retort to the more thoughtful, comprehensive, and inclusive Democratic proposals snaking through the chambers.

I don't need to agree with everything my elective officials represent in order for them to receive my vote. And I think that's what makes today's Democratic party strong - conservatives like Ben Nelson and Mike Ross under the same tent as Jay Rockefeller and Anthony Weiner.

I've lived most of my life in the 10th CD, and historically found Kirk to be a logical and contemplative public servant. No more. The bizarre and utterly disingenuous backtracking on his climate change vote was cowardly, distasteful, and a desperate attempt to pander to the vocal minority of teabaggers. And for his continued actions up to and including yesterday's baseless warning, steeped in irony, he's lost my faith, and more importantly to him, my vote.

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