December 04, 2009 | Posted by Danielle Belton
For some Republicans fear mongering on Gitmo is the holiday gift that keeps on giving. It fits all sizes. It’s easy. It’s cheap. And it’s the go-to reaction to any rational thought on closing Guantanamo Bay and trying its suspects in federal courts.
Case in point: House Rep. Mark Kirk of Illinois.
He wants to be Senator … your alarmist, flip-flopping, Chicken Little Hawk Senator from Illinois. When the Justice Department announced the possibility of some Gitmo detainees coming to the southern Illinois town of Thomson, he jumped out front and center, courting the screaming memes of the right wing base with some of the most fearful forecasting possible.
Fear: "If your Administration brings Al Qaeda terrorists to Illinois, our state and the Chicago Metropolitan Area will become ground zero for Jihadist terrorist plots, recruitment and radicalization," Kirk said.
Fact: Thomson is nearly 150 miles from Chicago. Never mind that all major American cities are terrorist targets regardless of who is housed there.
Fear: "As home to America’s tallest building, we should not invite Al Qaeda to make Illinois its number one target," Kirk said.
Fact: Again, perhaps Kirk needs a geography lesson about his own state.
Fear: "The policies that the president has chosen with regard to terrorist transfer are increasingly unpopular, and for those of us who oppose those policies we will find more and more allies the closer to an election we get," Kirk said.
Fact: Now we get to the real deal. This isn’t about protecting citizens or fighting al Qaeda, this is about POLITICS. He wants to push the Thomson prison issue and make it an emotional issue to win votes.
Maybe all that caterwauling impressed former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (who Kirk is courting for an endorsement), but the fearsome chatter didn’t go over very well with other state politicians, as well as the townsfolk of Thomson who are in favor of the possibility of detainees coming to their town. It didn’t even go over well with other conservatives, particularly the trio of Bob Barr, David Keene, and Grover Norquist, who came out against right wing “scaremongering” over the issue.
Of course, after stirring the pot with a whole lot of rigmarole, Kirk has changed his tone. Now he wants a “dispassionate and specific” debate about the detainee issue.
Well, when you’re playing politics with people’s lives, rather than working on the side of justice, you’re bound to turn a few heads, Exorcist-style (projectile vomiting and all), against you.
From a Chicago Sun-Times column:
Kirk's over the top, hyperbolic, error-riddled, extremely partisan fear tantrum (in response to the Thomson/Guantanamo proposal) finally tipped the media against him. Just about every significant newspaper in Illinois, including this one, which endorsed Kirk's re-election last year, mocked Kirk's meltdown and severely chastised him for needless and baseless fear-mongering.
I think there's more at work here than just the usual rightward drift during a Republican primary. Kirk is clearly showing that he's far too susceptible to our disgusting and mindless national political wars, which endlessly play out on those idiotic cable TV "news" channels. And all this makes me question how Kirk would behave if he were elected next November.
You don’t have to wonder how he’ll behave. Kirk blows which ever way the right wing winds tell him to.