Portrait of the Congressman as Two Crazy Different Men - NBC Chicago
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Portrait of the Congressman as Two Crazy Different Men



    Mark Kirk, Midwestern moderate, is a more polarizing figure than we imagined.
    So polarizing, in fact, his every move is followed by two diametrically opposed bloggers: a hatist, dedicated to portraying him as a dishonest hypocrite, and a #1 fan, dedicated to convincing readers that no matter what happens, Kirk isn't as bad as Alexi Giannoulias.
    At Ward Room, we tend to ding both Kirk and Giannoulias when they deserve it. But the purity of both these bloggers' viewpoints presents a compelling picture of just how wide the ideological gulf is in Illinois, and perhaps the nation as a whole.

    If you intensely dislike Kirk, you probably want to go to Ellen’s Illinois Tenth District Congressional Blog. The national media just discovered Kirk last week. Gill, a Northbrook attorney who owns a pet named Democat, is no newcomer to savaging the North Shore congressman. Posts on her site go all the way back to 2005.

    Obviously, this has been Gill’s biggest month ever. Perhaps because she’s naturally suspicious of Kirk, her site was putting together the pieces of Kirk’s suspect military record before the Washington Post broke the story.

    “Try doing a Google search for ‘Intelligence Officer of the Year’ and ‘U.S. Navy,’” read a May 18 post. “If this was a real award, shouldn't it come up on some official Navy website with lists of other winners and other nominees? I think Kirk was awarded ‘Intelligence Officer of the Year’ for reservists who were junior officers.”

    The blog didn’t nail down the whole story -- that Kirk’s unit was awarded the Rufus L. Taylor Intelligence Award -- but it did nail the fact that Kirk was lying when he described himself as Intelligence Officer of the Year.

    As the story developed, Ellen weighed in with posts titled, “Who should replace Kirk on the ballot?,” “Mark Kirk: being in the Navy means I have a big cock,” and “Mark Kirk’s Epic Lie About Kosovo.”

    When your business is writing that everything Mark Kirk says and does is wrong, you do a lot of business when he actually is wrong.

    On the other side of the digital and political divide is Team America’s 10th District Blog, which first mentioned the military records controversy in a May 30 post titled, “Mark Kirk Defends His Military Record From Alexi Giannoulias, Who Served Up Jump Shots While Kirk Served.” To Team America’s blogger, who describes himself as “a lawyer (but a nice guy nevertheless), family man [and] moderate Republican,” the brouhaha over Mark Kirk’s Navy service was engineered by the vast left-wing conspiracy, and given coverage by a news media that felt it needed to bash Kirk to balance out its attacks on his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias.

    To Team America, the controversy was settled when Kirk’s commanding officer, Clay Fearnow, wrote a letter testifying to Kirk’s abilities as an officer. “Let’s See the Left Try to Discredit This, Now,” the blog declared triumphantly.

    When the issue still wouldn’t go away, Team America wrote, “My personal opinion is that a lot of the MSM pile-on as to the Kirk flap was to show that after spilling barrels of ink lambasting Alexi Giannoulias for his failed family bank and running from his touted banking credentials, the MSM can beat on Kirk too, when they need to. Now that they have convinced themselves of their objectivity, I suspect we’ll be treated to a few more months of the media trashing Giannoulias, whose transgressions completely trump any minor shortcomings of Congressman Kirk in the grand scheme of things.”

    If you want wall-to-wall coverage of Mark Kirk’s “misremembered” military record, go to Ellen’s blog. If you want to know why it doesn’t matter that he misremembered, go to Team America.