Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Powerpoint Makes Mark Kirk Stoopid, and Other Lessons Not Learned

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    NEWSLETTERS

    "As you know, the Pentagon moves on Powerpoint," Kirk said during a City Club meeting at Maggiono's Monday. "And so I decided to give a talk about our situation and what we face here via Powerpoint."

    Powerpoint makes the Marines stupid. Just ask the Marines.

    "Powerpoint makes us stupid."

    See? That was Gen. James N. Mattis, to the New York Times, in a widely read article about how Powerpoint -- guess what? -- makes the Marines stupid.

    Congressman Mark Kirk read this article. Or knows that everyone read this article. And in his infinite wisdom decided to explain Illinois' political and fiscal morasse via Powerpoint. Just ask Mark Kirk.

    "As you know, the Pentagon moves on Powerpoint," Kirk said during a City Club meeting at Maggiano's Monday. "And so I decided to give a talk about our situation and what we face here via Powerpoint."

    Wow. Unintentionally ironic presentation or sublime meta-commentary?! You decide!

    But that wasn't the only funny thing that Kirk said today. He also returned to one his favorite rhetorical devices -- that is, explaining how corrupt Illinois is, then asking his audience whether they're embarassed to tell relatives they live in Illinois. The upshot implication: Kirk will fix corruption.

    At Maggiano's, Kirk used this rhetorical device once more. Except this time, he threw in a detail from his recent reservist trip in Afghanistan -- and in the process, revealed how little he knows about who he's talking to (or at least how far he's willing to stretch the moral lesson of an anecdote to fit shoddy rhetoric).

    Here's Kirk, talking about a meeting with an Afghan official: "I was asking so many political questions, he finally turned to me and said Commander, are you a reservist? Yes sir. What'd you do in your civilian life? I'm a US Congressman? What state? He knew enough to ask that. Illinois. He sat back in his chair and said ah...in Afghanistan we know corruption, but not like that."

    The implied lesson? Even the poppy-growing yokels halfway 'round the world know how corrupt we are here. These sand-blasted dune hicks have taken the time to learn about the breadbasket, and they know who's stealing all the bread! The shame! The scandal!

    The official Kirk was talking to? The Afghanistan Minister of Agriculture? Yeah. He did his post-grad work at Omaha University, class of '89.*

    So ... good job Mark Kirk! I'm glad somebody has finally revealed that the Cornhuskers' deep appreciation of American politics.

    Omaha! Great at growing corn, greater at growing opium!

    * Ward Room has a call into Kirk's campaign to confirm this is the official Kirk was talking about. Just in case there's another Afghan Minister of Agriculture. Because who knows! It's exotic over there!

     Update: Kirk's campaign says that when Congressman Kirk said "the Afghan agriculture minister" he actually meant the Minister for Rural Rehabilitation and Development, who's actually this guy. Our mistake! It is exotic over there!