First, we had Connecticut’s up-until-recently-hugely popular Attorney General Richard Blumenthal do his very best Pinocchio imitation about having served in Vietnam. This created dismay among some Democrats, outrage among other Democrats and defensiveness among many Democrats who want him to win Chris Dodd’s old seat. Meanwhile, GOPers in the new and old media — in particular talk show hosts and weblog writers — declared Blumenthal’s reprehensible
fib slip of the tongue mistakement falsification of his overseas military service an absolute outrage, an insult to the military, making him unfit for public office, a disgrace for fudging his military record.
And now we have the case of a GOPer running for Barack Obama’s old Senate seat claiming to have gotten a military award that he now admits he didn’t get — an admission that came after he learned that the Washington Post was checking his claims. Put your money now down in Vegas that the Dems will jump all over him and Republican critics of Blumenthal will insist this doesn’t count, is just an error, not a big deal — because that’s the way our partisan politics now operates.
The details aren’t happy ones for Rep. Mark Kirk if you read this Washington Post piece:
The Republican candidate for President Obama’s old Senate seat has admitted to inaccurately claiming he received the U.S. Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO’s conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s.
Rep. Mark Kirk, a Navy reservist who was elected to Congress in 2001, acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award, which is given by top Navy officials to a single individual annually.
The Post’s inquiries were sparked by complaints from a representative of state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Kirk’s Democratic opponent in the Illinois Senate race.
Cmdr. Danny Hernandez, the Navy’s assistant chief of information, said for several days last week that he was having trouble finding records to clarify the matter. Then on Friday, he said Kirk, an Appropriations Committee member who co-chairs an electronic warfare working group, had changed his Web site to incorporate a different account of the award.
In a message on his blog, Kirk wrote that “upon a recent review of my records, I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified” and that the award he had intended to list was given to his unit, not to him individually.
Kirk was assigned to a unit based in Aviano, Italy, during the conflict. A professional group, the National Military Intelligence Association, gave the unit an award for outstanding service, according to a revised résumé posted on Kirk’s Web site Saturday.
The association’s Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award celebrates “the exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional,” but the citation in 2000 contains no mention of Kirk and instead designates the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano.
Kirk, whose campaign has emphasized his military service as a reservist, similarly misstated the award during a House committee hearing in March 2002. In a remark recorded by C-Span, he said, “I was the Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year,” an achievement he depicted as providing special qualifications to discuss national security spending.
Eric Elk, a spokesman for Kirk’s campaign, declined to comment except to say “we found the award was misidentified and corrected the name.”
Kathleen Strand, communications director for the Giannoulias campaign, said Friday that Kirk “is lying or embellishing his military record,” making him “the worst kind of Washington politician.”
Sean, Rush, et. all will go on defense, lambaste Blumenthal and the Democrats some more and try to downplay or negate the bad news.
But the fact is:
There are cribbers in both parties who can’t take you-have-a-chance-of-winning for an answer and do a bullfighter’s imitation defying anyone to find out about their deceptions, big and small.
But cribbers who defiantly jump into the arena and try to deceive the beast take note:
In Spain recently, a top bullfighter got a bull’s horn through his throat while defiantly waving his red cape at the seemingly clueless bull.
It’s a fitting metaphor, really:
The horn through the throat.
And especially the bull.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.