On Tuesday afternoon, as Chicago was being buried under a blanket of cold, wet snow, Mark Kirk gave the cold shoulder to the idea of cooperation and bipartisanship in the United States Senate. Joining such "moderates" as Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and James Inhofe, Kirk voted to continue the GOP's obstructionist agenda by supporting the formerly grand old party's filibuster of the nomination of Vietnam veteran and former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel to be our Secretary of Defense.
Although I disagree, I can appreciate that Kirk, like many pro-Israel conservatives, didn't think that Hagel was obsequious enough to Bibi Netanyahu's right-wing politics or willing enough to bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran. If a Senator wanted to curry favor with his conservative pro-Israel constituents, a vote against Hagel would have been one way to do that.
That's what John McCain and Lindsay Graham - two of Hagel's most strident critics - did. So did Orrin Hatch, Jeff Session and Tom Coburn - hardly a moderate group. Maybe it was hurt feelings because they were upset that Hagel had supported Obama instead of McCain and believed Hagel had abandoned their party. For whatever reason, they voted against confirming him as a member of President Obama's cabinet. Of the Senate's 45 Republicans, 41 opposed Hagel's nomination. I disagree with them, but there was nothing about those votes that was obstructionist - these up-or-down votes are part of how democracy works.
But Mark Kirk went beyond simply voting against Hagel's confirmation. He endorsed the GOP's continued obstructionism by voting against bringing the matter to a vote before the full Senate.
Chris Matthews got it right tonight on Hardball when he called the pro-filibuster vote "grandstanding ... bullshit". These Senators are now on record, Matthews said, of having done this "for no better reason than to undermine the successful functioning of the government". He then had some advice for his viewers. If you're looking for reasons why people can't seem to work together in Congress, Matthews said we should "check this list" (of those voting to continue the filibuster).
I agree with Matthews that by voting against bringing Hagel's nomination to an up-or-down vote, Kirk and his extremist colleagues demonstrated that "they are hell bent on division, distrust and disdain toward the elected President of the United States"
The State of Illinois deserves better.