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Is Mark Kirk Overcompensating?

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Is Mark Kirk Overcompensating?

Could there be a connection between the two accusations Mark Kirk is facing this week: that he inflated his military record, and that he’s a closeted gay man?

Everyone, from pundits to rabid message board posters and blog comment monkeys are trying to figure out why Kirk, who already has a sterling military record, would lie about receiving an intelligence officer award and serving in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The word "overcompensating" comes to mind.

If Kirk is overcompensating for something, maybe we should be grateful. Whatever drives Mark Kirk has made him an outstanding public servant. As a Republican congressman, Kirk has survived a decade in a Democratic-leaning district. According to his former commanding officer in the Balkans, Kirk is “the finest intelligence officer I have ever served with – hands down.” He’s already winning national attention as a moderate Republican who can help reduce partisanship in the Senate.

Obviously, whatever inspired those achievements also seems to have inspired the feeling that they weren’t enough. That’s why “served during Operation Iraqi Freedom” became “served in Operation Iraqi Freedom.” But it’s also why his title will likely change from “Representative” to “Senator.”

As a man without a family -- his childless marriage ended last year -- Kirk likely draws his entire identity from politics and the Navy. It’s worth noting that the only sitting senator currently serving in the military, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, is also a bachelor.

Meanwhile, Kirk’s opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, doesn’t seem to be lacking anything in his life: he’s young, rich, handsome, athletic, friends with Obama, and engaged to a beautiful woman. And he’s going to lose to a more determined politician in November.

If you’re a gay man trying to stay in the closet -- Mark Kirk has denied rumors about his sexuality -- the Republican Party and the U.S. military provide good cover, since both organizations shun gays. But Kirk was outed (or was the subject of an outing attempt) by a blogger who has a record of outing gay politicians. That attempted outing came this week because of a conflict between Kirk's party, his military service and his alleged homosexuality. He voted against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.” If Kirk was trying to hide his sexual orientation, he was trying too hard.

Mark Kirk seems to try too hard at everything he does. It’s why he’s in trouble this week. It’s also why he’ll be an excellent United States senator.

As the saying goes, “Happy people do not make history.”

Editor's Note: This piece's original headline was changed to conform to NBC standards. The piece was also updated to include a link to Kirk's denial that he is gay and links to previous coverage.

Related Topics Mark Kirk, Alexi Giannoulias
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