Like a cover-up that is worse than the crime, Mark Kirk's explanation for flip-flopping on controversial "cap-and-trade" legislation is worse than the flip-flop itself.
"I voted for it because it was in the narrow interests of my congressional district," Kirk said at a rally for his Senate campaign on Saturday. "But as your representative, representing the entire state of Illinois, I will vote 'No' on that bill coming up."
Cap-and-trade: Good for the North Shore, bad for Illinois!
Kirk would be better off just telling the truth, which is almost certainly one of two things:
1. "I really wrestled with a controversial and flawed piece of legislation and now I've been convinced my vote was wrong. Here's the argument that made me change my mind."
2. "Representing a potential swing district, I have to be mindful of how votes like this will play in my re-election campaigns, in which I always tout my environmental credentials. Now, however, I am running statewide and must consolidate my base by moving to the right and harnessing the growing furies there that could spark a heavy conservative turnout in a mid-term election with a liberal president. Plus, they're just hammering me on this."
Instead, Kirk has admitted - if we take his word at face value - that he placed his district's interest ahead of the interest of the rest of us - even though carbon emissions know no political boundaries.
It would be like an alderman, say, voting for the Olympics because it would benefit their ward, but then running for mayor and opposing the Olympics because it would be bad for the city as a whole.
Elected officials always have to weigh the interests of who they directly represent against the whole, but that should spark efforts for compromise and cooperation to produce legislation with broader benefits. Voting to screw the other guy is not acceptable. We're all Americans.
As a senator, for example, would Kirk vote in our state's interest even if it's against the national interest?
Or to take it one step further, if Kirk wins the Senate seat and later runs for president, what's to prevent him from flip-flopping again and saying his previous flip-flop was good for Illinois, but bad for America?