Kirk finds even more to apologize for

KIRK FINDS EVEN MORE TO APOLOGIZE FOR…. The good news is, Republican Senate candidate Mark Kirk of Illinois finally apologized yesterday for a series of highly misleading claims about his military service. Coming down with a sudden case of Bush-itis, Kirk added, “I simply misremembered it wrong.”

The bad news is, the list of instances in which Kirk “misremembered” his service record managed to get even longer.

In a new disclosure, Kirk acknowledged that his campaign’s promotion of him coming under fire while flying aboard an intelligence reconnaissance plane in Iraq may not be correct because there is no record of whether his aircraft was being fired upon.

But it wasn’t just campaign promotional materials that got it wrong. In 2003, as a member of Congress, Kirk told his colleagues, “I just returned from Iraq and the trend is for the better. The last time I was in Iraq, I was in uniform flying at 20,000 feet and the Iraqi Air Defense network was shooting at us.”

In his new account, Kirk said he does not recall coming under enemy fire and there is no record to back up his 2003 claim.

The Chicago Tribune added, “Kirk also said last year that he once saw anti-aircraft flack when flying an intelligence mission over Kosovo and thought he might be killed.” Whether this incident occurred in reality is also unclear.

The Illinois Republican also exaggerated his service record in a letter to a constituent, claiming to be “a veteran of the Desert Storm and Enduring Freedom missions,” which isn’t quite right, either.

At this point, it’s genuinely difficult to keep track of all of Kirk’s claims about his service record that have been proven false. Let’s see if I have them all: Kirk (1) falsely claimed he served “in” Operation Iraqi Freedom; (2) falsely claimed to “command the war room in the Pentagon”; (3) falsely claimed to have won the U.S. Navy’s Intelligence Officer of the Year award; (4) falsely claimed to have been shot at by the Iraqi Air Defense network; (5) falsely claimed to be a veteran of Desert Storm; and (6) falsely claimed to be the only lawmaker to serve during Operation Iraqi Freedom. There may very well be other instances, but these six are confirmed.

A misstatement or two can be embarrassing, but understandable. Kirk, however, seems to have established a lengthy pattern of exaggerating his service record in a way that appears intended to deceive the public. Given that he served honorably, there’s no reason for such wild embellishments.

In other words, Kirk repeated falsehoods when the truth would have been just as good. It’s bizarre.