As Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias prepare to debate on Meet The Press this weekend, to show America that Illinois can do worse than Roland Burris, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has released a video of an earlier debate, this one purporting to be between Mark Kirk and himself.
The 1:09-long Internet spot strings together clips of Kirk changing his positions on important issues, such as TARP, Cap-and-Trade, and gun control. Inevitably, he becomes more conservative as time goes on. Most baby boomers have undergone the same political journey, but “Mark Kirk the Debater” reduces it to stop-action time.
On October 23, 2008, for example, Kirk told a TV talk show, “I am maybe a unique animal in the Congress: a pro-choice, pro-gun control…” Less than two years later, he is seen telling a rally, “I am for the Second Amendment. I am a firearms owner. I own a .50-caliber.”
These are not incompatible positions. It’s possible to own a gun and favor gun control, just as it’s possible to own a car and favor driving tests.
Then, we hear Kirk on Sarah Palin. In August 2008, he declares her “one of the leading female executives in the country, the governor of Alaska.” But two months later, he says, “I would have picked someone different.”
In those two months, Palin gave a speech at the Republican National Convention, told Katie Couric she understood foreign affairs because she could see Russia from Alaska, and was parodied on Saturday Night Live. Mark Kirk wasn’t the only one who changed his mind about Sarah Palin.
Then we have the most famous Kirk vs. Kirk moment: his change of heart on Cap and Trade legislation. He voted for it as a congressman, saying it was in his district’s best interests, but declared he would vote against it as a senator. “I voted for it,” he says in the clip, followed moments later by, “I would vote no on that bill coming up.”
Is this the story of a man who grows more conservative as the seconds pass, or does Mark Kirk have an alter ego, as Dr. Jekyll had Mr. Hyde, as Mr. Spock had Bad Mr. Spock, as Dr. Johnny Fever had Rip Tide? Or is this the same lame tactic George W. Bush used against John Kerry, calling him a flip-flopper because some of his thousands of Senate votes were inconsistent. It’s easy for Giannoulias to criticize his legislator opponent. As an executive, he’s never had to vote on anything.
It’s too bad we won’t get more real debates to find out. It’s a little rich of the Giannoulias campaign to show Kirk debating himself, since Giannoulias backed out a debate in Carbondale. As a result, the debate was canceled. LeAlan Jones was also invited, but his car is broken, so it’s doubtful he could have made it. As a result, we actually would have seen Kirk debating himself.