MARK KIRK’S VERACITY BACK IN THE NEWS…. The good news for Rep. Mark Kirk, the Republican Senate hopeful in Illinois, is that he’s gone a few months without new revelations surrounding his exaggerated record and background. The bad news is, there’s a new one.
Kirk — if that is his real name — has experienced a humiliating year when it comes to dishonesty. He’s been caught lying repeatedly about everything from his military service to having been a nursery-school teacher. He’s made a wide variety of false claims about foreign policy issues, which is supposed to be an area of expertise for him, and has even been forced to literally flee reporters trying to get Kirk to reconcile his stories with reality. In July, we learned that one of Kirk’s favorite stories — the one about being inspired to enter public service after the Coast Guard rescued him from drowning in Lake Michigan as a teenager– wasn’t entirely true, either.
Today, it appears yet another example has emerged.
Rep. Mark Kirk claims credit for being a driving force behind a bill signed into law this year that requires the president to crack down on companies doing business with Iran.
But the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Howard Berman, says Kirk is guilty of “exaggeration” when he says the “Kirk bill” became the “Berman bill” so it could pass the Democratic Congress.
“We didn’t even look at his legislation at the time,” Berman said. “Our bill did so much more and went so far beyond his bill, I would have to put it in the context of an exaggeration.”
Last month, Kirk told the editorial board of the Chicago Sun-Times that it was his bill on policy towards Iran that was advancing in the House, even though Berman was taking credit for it.
That, like most of Kirk’s claims, doesn’t appear to be true. Berman, the committee chairman, explained that while Kirk has worked on sanctions related to Iran, “The bill that I was involved with, we didn’t even look at his legislation at the time.” The final bill that advanced went much further, and was far more expansive, than Kirk’s initial effort.
Taken in isolation, this may seem largely meaningless. Kirk claimed credit for work he didn’t do, but this this isn’t exactly unprecedented on Capitol Hill.
The point is the larger pattern — Mark Kirk tells a lot of stories, asks voters to believe those stories, and then we find out that those stories aren’t true. In some instances, Kirk’s tall tales are demonstrable lies with no basis in fact, but more often, the Republican embellishes reality, giving the truth a more dramatic spin that makes him look better.
If it were just an anecdote here or there that was exaggerated for effect, this would be entirely forgivable, even expected for a U.S. Senate candidate. But Kirk has done this repeatedly, with a wide variety of subjects over the course of many years, as if he has some kind of uncontrollable urge to mislead those around him about his own life.
That this latest example came in September — after he vowed to speak with more “precision” about his record — suggests Kirk just can’t help himself when it comes to telling tall tales.
How voters are supposed to find Mark Kirk trustworthy remains a mystery.