Ward Room
Covering Chicago's nine political influencers

Truthish or Falsey: Kirk Is a "Thoughtful, Independent Leader."

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Mark Kirk is coming out with a new campaign ad, in which he declares, “In a country where too many just vote the party line, there are only a few thoughtful, independent leaders who do what’s right for us. Like Mark Kirk.”

    Is that true? Well, let’s say it was a lot truer before Kirk started running for the U.S. Senate. Verdict: Kinda truthish. Here’s why.

    Kirk was once one of the more independent Republicans in the House of Representatives, especially on the issue of abortion rights, which is important in his wealthy suburban district. Kirk voted against a ban on partial birth abortion, and in favor of pollution-fighting cap-and-trade legislation. But once he decided to seek his party’s nomination, he started following the party line more closely. Kirk voted for the Stupak Amendment, which prohibits federal funds for paying for abortion.

    Later in the ad, a narrator says that “newspapers called him independent and effective because of his leadership on stem cell research to find new cures, protecting Lake Michigan from BP’s pollution, and helping families pay for college.”

    Here, there’s a chryon of a generic newspaper headline: “Kirk leads campaign against BP refinery dumping.” The headline was actually from an article on ABC7’s website. And saying Kirk led the campaign ignores the more significant contributions of Sen. Dick Durbin and then-Rep. Rahm Emanuel in fighting the state of Indiana’s permit to allow BP to dump more sludge into Lake Michigan.

    It is true that Kirk is a longtime supporter of stem-cell research, which put him at odds with President Bush. As for “helping families pay for college,” Kirk voted for the Student Loans Act, the College Cost Reductions Act of 2007, and the College Student Relief Act, which all received widespread Republican support. But Kirk was one of only 32 Republicans to vote for the Military Construction and Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, which funded the educations of post-9/11 veterans.

    So often when Mark Kirk brags about himself, he’s not telling the entire truth. This ad is no exception.