Laurel and Hardy. Vladimir and Estragon. Bert and Ernie. Will and Carlton. The Smothers Brothers.
In Wednesday night’s Senate debate, Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias joined the list of great comedy teams who specialize in getting on each others’ nerves. After eight-and-a-half months on the campaign trail, and three debates, their timing and their repartee have become sharp.
They got down to serious bickering after moderator Phil Ponce asked whether President Obama’s stimulus package had averted a depression.
“I think most people would credit the TARP legislation,” said Kirk, who’s the stuffy brown-noser of the pair. “My opponent, after a very difficult, painful-to-watch session in front of the Chicago Tribune, finally admitted he would have supported TARP as well.”
“That’s not true,” countered Giannoulias, the laid-back ladies’ man type.
“Are you flip-flopping on that?”
“That’s not true at all,” Giannoulias said. “I would have liked to see some oversight, some accountability. Not the way you did it, congressman. Where you voted twice proudly for the bailouts for the biggest banks in the world.”
“So actually, we agree on this,” Kirk said. “This is the sort of immaturity of my opponent, where in the end, a member of Congress is presented with a yes or no vote always an imperfect package. In the end, you have to cast a tough vote.”
“If Congressman Kirk is accusing me of flip-flopping, that would be the most remarkable irony in the history of Illinois politics.”
“I actually am accusing you of flip-flopping,” Kirk said. “He has flip-flopped on NAFTA.”
“I’m not gonna interrupt you.”
“I’m just remarking, commenting.”
Finally, an exasperated Kirk threw out his arms toward Ponce and asked, “Do you want to moderate this?”
“I don’t want to smother two bright people,” said Ponce, who was probably unconsciously reminded of Tom and Dick’s onstage banter.
It’s really a shame we’ll have to break up this comedy team next week.
I think we should elect both Kirk and Giannoulias to the Senate. They can both be assigned the same seat. It worked on Hollywood Squares, when Skiles and Henderson sat together in the top center square.
C-SPAN would become immensely more entertaining if viewers could watch the duo of Kirk and Giannoulias insult each other as they tried to decide how to vote on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and the repeal of President Bush’s tax cuts.
I’m not anticipating a successful Senate term for either of these guys. Look what happened to Sonny after he lost Cher. His show business career foundered, and eventually, he was forced to go into politics.