If there’s a secret competition among Republicans to see who could say the most ridiculous things about the international nuclear agreement with Iran, organizers can call off the contest. Reading this BuzzFeed report, it’s clear that Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) has won an ignominious prize.
Senator Mark Kirk, a Republican from Illinois, says the nuclear agreement with Iran “condemns the next generation to cleaning up a nuclear war in the Persian Gulf.”Kirk, who has consistently spoken out against the deal with Iran, told WRKO’s Financial Exchange radio program on Tuesday that he believes “tens of thousands of people in the Middle East are gonna lose their lives because of this decision by Barack Hussein Obama.”
The increasingly erratic Republican senator, who’s facing a tough re-election campaign next year, went on to say, “This is the greatest appeasement since Chamberlain gave Czechoslovakia to Hitler.” Kirk added that he believes the corruption charges against Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) are part of an elaborate conspiracy to punish critics of the administration’s foreign policy.
The Illinois lawmaker, just to abandon any sense of subtlety or propriety, concluded that President Obama “wants … to get nukes to Iran.”
Remember, these quotes weren’t from some radio shock-jock or a strange right-wing blogger. Mark Kirk is an actual, elected member of the U.S. Senate.
As sad a display as this was, Kirk’s unfortunate tantrum did include an element of unintentional humor. The GOP senator, as part of the same unhinged tirade, said the president will make nuclear diplomacy a “viciously partisan issue.”
No, seriously, that’s what he said. The hysterical Republican who believes “Barack Hussein Obama” will be responsible for a nuclear attack and tens of thousands of deaths, who thinks the president has concocted a scheme to deliberately turn Iran into a nuclear power and criminalize dissent, also believes Obama might be “viciously partisan.”
Obviously, these are not the words of an official who should be taken seriously. But there’s a broader point to all of this: as he draws closer to next year’s election, Mark Kirk’s rhetoric is getting increasingly alarming.
Last month, he described Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a bachelor, as “a bro with no ho.” When congressional Republicans threatened to shut down the Department of Homeland Security earlier this year, it was Kirk who got a little hysterical, urging the GOP to “build a number of coffins outside each Democratic office.”
A few months prior, during an ugly fight over Loretta Lynch’s attorney general nomination, Kirk suggested Democrats were defending slavery. A month later, he said people drive faster through black neighborhoods.
In isolation, these bizarre incidents might be easier to dismiss as regrettable slip-ups, but taken together, a pattern emerges of a senator who once claimed moderation, but who’s now increasingly unhinged.
If there’s an electoral strategy that explains such behavior, I can’t think of it. Kirk is a Republican running in a blue state, hoping to get re-elected in a presidential year. Common sense suggests Kirk should be going out of his way to appear sensible and mainstream.
For reasons no one seems able to explain, the GOP senator is doing the opposite.