Everyone does it. My gosh, we've heard that refrain from the left for years. Back in 1992 they tried to convince us that every president had multiple, and in some cases predatory, sexual affairs and defrauded investors in land deals. Now, looking an electoral tsunami the face, they are scrabbling desperately to accuse Republican candidates of any peccadillo committed by their candidates.
Case in point is Mark Kirk, the Republican candidate for the Senate in Illinois. To put the criticism in context, Kirk is running against Illinois Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, a mobbed up party hack who ran his family bank into the ground.
Unsurprisingly, another party hack, TPM alumnus and Washington Post employee Greg Sargent, tries takes an equally unsurprising cheap shot.
Mark Kirk's Senate campaign has now acknowledged a second misrepresentation of his service record, admitting to me that his Web site falsely claimed that he was "the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom."
This latest admission comes after Kirk, an Illinois Congressman, recently admitted that his official bio had falsely claimed he'd been named U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO'S war with Serbia in the 1990s.
And then Sargent drives straight on to the direct, in-your-face lie.
Though there's no evidence Kirk knowingly allowed this falsehood to stand, this, again, is precisely what Blumenthal was pilloried for.
First, we need to take a few minutes to compare and contrast Mr. Kirk's actions with those of Connecticut's Elliot Spitzer-wannabe, the aptly named Dick Blumenthal. Blumenthal is being "pilloried" for claiming in at least two speeches, I say "at least" because we have him on video tape in two instances but the five year separation between the instances indicates it was a part of his standard remarks to veterans groups, that he served in Vietnam. He didn't. Then he compounded his integrity problem by issuing his denial in a VFW hall, a clear violation of that chapter's 501(c)3 status, in the company of at least one man who had claimed combat awards he did not receive.
Kirk differs in just about every way possible. Kirk did not claim in speeches to have served in OIF. Rather that claim appeared on his web site. When the discrepancy was pointed out, in 2005, it was immediately corrected. The key difference between this incident and Blumenthal should be obvious to most anyone. In one instance the candidate has a five year history, minimum, of claiming combat service. In the other, the candidate's website -- written by whom we do not know -- claims he served in OIF rather than specifying he was on active duty in support of OIF.
The second of the two allegations is that Kirk did not receive the National Military Intelligence Association's Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award in 2000, rather that award went to the unit in which he served. That appears to be true and without excusing the statement to equate, as Sargent does, an award by a nonprofit organization with service in Vietnam simply demonstrates a stunning lack of integrity and commonsense on the part of Sargent.
To make it worse, the reason he is doing it is transparent. The Democrats have lost Ted Kennedy's seat in the Senate. If they lose Barrack Obama's senate seat the message will be so loud even Sargent's employer will have to notice. In serving the needs of his party, Sargent has decided to carry out a cheap hatchet job on Mark Kirk at the behest of the Giannoulias campaign. If that hatchet job requires Sargent to lie he has shown he's perfect willing to do so.