Senator Kirk Raises Representative Duckworth’s Heritage in Debate

Via the Chicago Tribune:  More aggressive Kirk goes after Duckworth in second debate, questions her family’s heritage

At one point, Duckworth talked about her family’s long history of involvement in the U.S. military, describing herself as a “daughter of the American Revolution” who has “bled for this nation.”

When it was Kirk’s turn to offer a rebuttal, he offered a single sentence: “I had forgotten that your parents came all the way from Thailand to serve George Washington.”

There was an awkward pause, and the comment left some in the audience with a look of puzzlement.

Duckworth, who was born in Bangkok, Thailand, to a mother of Chinese heritage and a father of British descent, replied: “There’s been members of my family serving on my father’s side since the American Revolution.” She said she was “proud of both my father’s side and my mother’s side as an immigrant.”

Stay classy, Senator Kirk.

Meanwhile, the Trump campaign had what I would consider an ironic statement on the event:

Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, took to Twitter for some payback against Kirk, who un-endorsed Trump this year and has called the former reality show star unfit to be president.

“The same Mark Kirk that unendorsed his party’s presidential nominee and called him out in paid ads? Gotcha. Good luck,” Conway posted on Twitter over an online publication’s tweeted headline “Senator Mark Kirk mocks disabled Iraq war vet Tammy Duckworth in debate for her mixed-race heritage.”

Really, who in the world would attack a veteran let alone use one’s heritage against them?

There is this:

Kirk, who is recovering from a major stroke suffered in late January 2012, made a series of controversial statements last year. The one that garnered much attention was his live mic reference during a Senate committee hearing of bachelor colleague Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina as a “bro with no ho.”

Following the controversial statements, some top Illinois Republicans were privately fretting about Kirk’s re-election bid in July 2015, but the GOP stuck by him. At the time, the Tribune reported, officials with the National Republican Senatorial Committee suggested that Kirk stay out of the media.

“It’s got to be a more controlled setting when he speaks publicly,” said one Republican political operative familiar with Kirk and the NRSC’s strategy back then. “I don’t think it takes away from anything that he’s trying to do. But he’s got to be less in the media. Everything should be about making your point and that’s that.”

If Senator Kirk has medical reasons that impede his public judgment, that is a bit concerning.

FILED UNDER: Campaign 2016, Quick Takes, US Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. SKI says:

    If Senator Kirk has medical reasons that impede his public judgment, that is a bit concerning.

    Sure, but if he doesn’t have medical reason and is still saying these things, that is also concerning.

    Good news is that he will lose but this is supposedly the “good” kind of Republican and he still comes out with racist statements (this isn’t the first for him btw).

  2. Liberal Capitalist says:

    It’s interesting that the Alt-Right gets so much attention these days.

    Back in the day, we would just call folks like him assholes.

  3. Argon says:

    If Senator Kirk has medical reasons that impede his public judgment, that is a bit concerning.

    Similar to at least the second term of Reagan’s.

  4. Hal_10000 says:

    Even worse, he’s refused to apologize for it (so far).

  5. michael reynolds says:

    I for one am sick and tired of foreigners who have anchor babies who grow up to take all the war hero and traumatic amputee jobs that should rightly go to good white folks.

  6. Argon says:

    The down vote is fine but Reagan’s affliction from Alzheimer’s was evident in his second term.

  7. @SKI:

    Sure, but if he doesn’t have medical reason and is still saying these things, that is also concerning.

    I absolutely agree.

  8. Neil Hudelson says:

    Senator Kirk doesn’t need Donald Trump’s racism around his campaign. He can produce racism just fine on his own, thank you very much.

  9. Hal_10000 says:

    I just watched the video of the exchange and, somehow, it’s even worse than the transcript. That was his ENTIRE rebuttal to legitimate point she was making. He clearly thought it was clever but there was an awkward silence in which Duckworth just ignored him. Just terrible.

  10. al-Ameda says:

    @Hal_10000:

    I just watched the video of the exchange and, somehow, it’s even worse than the transcript. That was his ENTIRE rebuttal to legitimate point she was making. He clearly thought it was clever but there was an awkward silence in which Duckworth just ignored him. Just terrible.

    Could not agree with you more. It was very cringe-y.
    This entire campaign season has been an 18 month NASCAR slow-motion spin out into the wall.

  11. Pete S says:

    There were a couple of moments in the presidential debates as well, maybe not quite this bad, where you wish that it was acceptable for a debater to just look at their opponent and ask “What;s wrong with you?”

  12. Surreal American says:

    @Hal_10000:

    He clearly thought it was clever but there was an awkward silence in which Duckworth just ignored him. Just terrible.

    Terrible for him, sure, but Duckworth’s nonchalant non-response was perfect. Frankly, Kirk deserved to stew in the awkwardness of that moment.

  13. Comments like this are out of character for Kirk, who has generally been among the more moderate Republicans in the Senate. Of course, he’s losing his re-election bid and likely becoming frustrated. Combine that with the fact that something like a stroke can lead to subtle changes in personality that don’t impact memory or the ability to do one’s job and perhaps that’s one explanation.

  14. Also, Senator Kirk has issued this apology via Twitter

    https://twitter.com/MarkKirk/status/792038214877839364

  15. Surreal American says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Combine that with the fact that something like a stroke can lead to subtle changes in personality that don’t impact memory or the ability to do one’s job and perhaps that’s one explanation.

    I would argue that while Kirk’s memory and knowledge may not be impaired by the stroke, his ability to be a politician could be adversely affected if he continues to make statements like the one he did during that debate.

  16. SKI says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Comments like this are out of character for Kirk, who has generally been among the more moderate Republicans in the Senate.

    Beyond noting that, while that is true, it is an awfully low bar, his local paper noted, back in August that Kirk’s re-election bid complicated by controversial statements

    Sen. Mark Kirk’s reference Thursday to an unmarried Senate colleague and presidential candidate as a “bro with no ho” is the latest in a string of controversial remarks that figure to make an already challenging 2016 re-election bid even more difficult.

    While most of Kirk’s verbal gaffes have been made in speeches or interviews, his remark Thursday about South Carolina Republican Lindsey Graham was off-the-cuff and presumably meant to be private. Kirk was chatting during a Senate committee vote when his words were picked up by a live microphone.

    “He’s a bro with no ho,” Kirk said, apparently talking to a colleague. “That’s what we’d say on the South Side.”

    He also said President Obama was “acting like the drug dealer in chief” for releasing the Iran proceeds and, in explaining why he wanted to promote entrepreneurship in the African-American community stated it was “so that the black community is not the one we drive faster through

    Let’s just say, he doesn’t have a very good sense of how to talk publicly about minorities…

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Comments like this are out of character for Kirk, who has generally been among the more moderate Republicans in the Senate.

    First, saying a thing like that would seem to reflect on his ability to do his job. Second, she kept her maiden name. Is Duckworth a traditional Thai name? A comment like this doesn’t lie on a moderate/radical scale, it lies on a bright/not bright scale. It’s hardly unknown for someone to be a moderate Republican and not terribly bright, e.g. Marco Rubio and W. Bush. It’s also possible to be a practicing non-racist moderate and yet have difficulty seeing beyond the Asian face to a more complicated background.

  18. Argon says:

    Best meme I’ve seen today.

  19. Bill says:

    There is a good many people in the United States who don’t see Asians as Americans. Including the media- http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20020303&slug=fancher03

    That came 4 years after MSNBC did the exact same thing when reporting on Michele Kwan.

    http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=19980303&slug=2737594

  20. Bill says:

    There was also a ghastly golf column written in the UK back 7 years ago where Mark Reason lumped in Michele Wie and Christina Kim who are both Korean American into a vitriolic piece about South Korean golfers ruining the LPGA.

    How about LPGA Commisioner Carolyn Bivens aborted English policy. I wrote this 8 years ago- http://sports.outsidethebeltway.com/2008/09/lpga-reverses-course-on-english-policy/

  21. JohnMcC says:

    Worth my time to remind everyone that back in March of this year the NRSC tweeted a nasty little note that Ms Duckworth “has a sad record of not standing up for our veterans.”

  22. anjin-san says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Does anyone give a rat’s ass about this idiots “apology”?

  23. the Q says:

    Speaking of the Illinois Senate race……I think liberals everywhere should toast one Jeri Ryan for altering the course of history.

    She’s is best known as an actress in Star Trek as the cyborg seven of nine. Also, in person, she is absolutely stunningly beautiful.

    Anyway, she married an extremely successful investment banker and Harvard BS grad named Jack Ryan, who after B school went down and worked at Casa Juan Diego, a refugee camp for Latinos fleeing the Central American civil wars. He then joined Goldman Sachs and made a small fortune. A self made man, from humble roots, with Clinton charisma and brains to match.

    A tall, good looking moderate, he was a natural for politics and decided to run for Senate. He had a good chance of winning……UNTIL……..

    Until his divorce agreement with Jeri Ryan was “released”. They were under seal by court order, but somehow got into the public domain. In it were sordid details of sex clubs and threesomes and kinky sex.

    As a Republican, he could not survive the sex scandal and one of the rising GOP stars was crushed by the bad publicity. He was forced to quit the race – one he could have won. The GOP made a mad scramble to replace him on the ballot and came up with Allan Keyes, an ex Reagan official, but a very inferior candidate who the GOP felt might be able to win by getting some of the black vote away from his opponent, a relatively unknown state legislator only 2 years on the job.

    Well, this unknown, inexperienced Dem, won a stunning victory and two years later, Barack Obama became President in a meteoric rise.

    And all because of Jeri Ryan and her wild claims during divorce proceedings of crazy sex orgies!!!!

    That Barack sure got lucky with that one!!!

  24. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Bill: There was a law in the 1860s or so that clearly stated that Asians were not citizens. Did we change that? And if so, why did we let the liberals cow us into changing a perfectly good law?

    /s

  25. Kari Q says:

    @the Q:

    Obama was already comfortably ahead when the Ryan divorce made headlines, but it did destroy his political career. I remember hearing it called “the only sex scandal in political history where there was no sex those involved were married.”

    Still interesting history, though.

  26. Barry says:

    @Doug Mataconis: “Comments like this are out of character for Kirk, who has generally been among the more moderate Republicans in the Senate. ”

    What does ‘moderate’ republican mean?

  27. PJ says:

    @Barry:

    What does ‘moderate’ republican mean?

    It obviously doesn’t mean being able to dogwhistle properly.

  28. grumpy realist says:

    @the Q: Remember that the Keynes-Obama race also provided us with the Crazifaction Factor.

  29. george says:

    @Bill:

    Its also interesting that they’re almost always ignored in discussions about diversity in Silicon Valley; including them would dramatically increase the percentage of minorities in most tech companies (making the tech sector among the highest minority employers in the country). Probably again because they’re not considered to be real Americans.

    They’re not quite as invisible as first nations people (ie Indians), but close to it. I’ve often wondered if that kind of invisibility is a blessing or a curse.