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Mark Kirk and Alexi Giannoulias debated on Meet The Press Sunday morning. After half-an-hour of Kirk hoisting a chart with the names of Broadway Bank’s mobbed-up customers, and Giannoulias failing to name even one issue on which he differed from the party, we have a winner: Green Party candidate LeAlan Jones.
NBC provided a national showcase for the Illinois Senate candidates to display their very worst traits, which have been so accurately summed up by Nadig Newspapers columnist Russ Stewart: “Kirk, a 10-year North Shore congressman, has come to be perceived as a serial liar, utterly devoid of principle, with no moral compass. In short, a crass opportunist and an ideological windsock. Giannoulias, the one-term state treasurer, is perceived as a clueless idiot, utterly lacking in judgment, whose performance as an officer at his now-defunct family bank was beyond inept. In short, out of his league.”
The discerning viewer was left with a desire to vote for anyone but the two men on the television screen. Jones won the debate even though he hadn’t been invited.
But later that day, Jones and Libertarian Party candidate Mike Labno appeared on WBEZ, where they were asked the same questions that Meet The Press host David Gregory asked major party candidates. Jones was even more impressive in his presence than he’d been in his absence, showing a more sophisticated grasp of economics and foreign policy than Kirk and Giannoulias. He must be spending all his time reading, since he can’t afford to campaign.
Asked about Kirk’s statement that he’s sworn off congressional earmarks, Jones said, “It’s very laughable to the congressman say that he’s sworn off earmarks for the 10-th District, when many of those people are high net worth people who benefit when you have interest rates at zero. They’re the people who benefit when the Fed…buys bonds on the open market. So in terms of saying that they don’t need earmarks, that’s probably right when they have a fiscal and monetary policy that’s skewed to their lifestyles.”
Jones also endorsed President Obama’s plan to end the Bush-era tax cuts to Americans earning over $250,000 a year.
“The upper income earners need to start paying more in taxes,” he said. “We don’t have growth in this country in terms of the wealth that’s behind it, and that’s what creates bubbles. In order to take away the risk of another bubble, you take away that income that would be put in a risk or a bond or a commodity, and putting that back in the public trust.”
Jones and his Libertarian counterpart both agreed that United States should withdraw its troops from Afghanistan.
“We have to disentangle ourselves from using the United States military as the global police,” Jones said. “I would favor an immediate withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan. The real problem in Afghanistan is in Pakistan. We have to begin to get the partners in the region to be more diligent, and more transparent, and that’s where we’ll begin to see the traction on the ground. We may not create the democracy that we experience in the United States, but it shouldn’t have to be the doldrums that the Afghan people are experiencing now.”
Asked about the character issues that have dogged the big dogs -- Kirk’s exaggerations of his military record and Giannoulias’s loans to mobsters at Broadway Bank -- Jones pointed out that “the only truth that either of these men have actually told is about each other. I think even the people that are voting for each of them wish they had other choices, because they don’t trust the character of either of these men.”
Of course, Jones can afford to tell the truth. He doesn’t have any campaign contributors paying him to say otherwise. That’s why he won the debate, but will lose the election.