Mark Kirk gave such an unusual speech to the City Club on Monday that political observers are wondering -- was that really the North Shore congressman? Or an animatronic double taking his place while he hides in Washington from the impending arrival of right-wing albatross Sarah Palin?
Here's what Kirk said: He promised to create jobs in Illinois by supporting the O’Hare Modernization Project, funding Fermilab and FutureGen and passing a Small Business Bill of Rights. He vowed to end the “corruption tax” that he claims costs Illinoisans $500 million every year.
“As your Senator, I will work to provide honest government to Illinois, helping to put our country back on track,” Kirk told the luncheon at Maggiano’s. “As a fiscal conservative and social moderate, I will work to cut government spending, enact the small business bill of rights, support our troops and back the toughest federal prosecutors – fighting public corruption in Illinois and on Wall Street.”
Here's what Kirk didn't say: Broadway Bank.
He never once mentioned a certain Giannoulias family-owned bank once headquartered near the corner of Broadway and Elmdale in Chicago, just up the street from the Ole St. Andrew’s Inn. The bank was a staple of Kirk’s stump speech until last week, when a CBS TV producer told Kirk to talk about something else. Anything else!
This time, the closest Kirk came to criticizing Giannoulias was an attack on the land of his ancestors, which recently went as belly-up as a bank saddled with bad loans to shady characters.
“Without fiscal conservatives in Washington to get spending under control, our little recovery could quickly return to crisis,” Kirk said. “The Greek debt crisis sent a warning to America. We must stop spending money we do not have. If we do not, our children will be forced to ask, who will bailout the United States?”
According to the Giannoulias campaign, the candidate has not received one question about the bank in his last four appearances before the media. Could this be a sign that the Senate campaign has moved on to more substantive topics?
Judging by the behavior of Kirk -- or whoever that was addressing the City Club -- it has.