Plenty of Republicans have complained bitterly about the recent U.S. payment to Iran, but few went quite as far as Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.). The Republican senator, in the middle of a tough re-election fight, has long been a fierce critic of international nuclear diplomacy with Iran, but Kirk appeared to push the rhetorical envelope last week while speaking to the State Journal-Register in Springfield, Ill.
The administration used the term “leverage” to say why it held back delivery of the money it said was owed to Iran because of an arms deal in the 1970s until hostages were released.Kirk, talking to the editorial board of The State Journal-Register on Tuesday, was critical of the cash payment.“We can’t have the president of the United States acting like the drug dealer in chief,” Kirk said, “giving clean packs of money to a … state sponsor of terror. Those 500-euro notes will pop up across the Middle East…. We’re going to see problems in multiple (countries) because of that money given to them.”
It didn’t take long for some to note the racial overtones of a senator referring to President Obama as a “drug dealer in chief.”
I’m also not altogether clear on the point Kirk was trying to make. Drug dealers give “clean packs of money”? To whom? What exactly is the similarity between Iranian diplomacy and dealing drugs?
And even putting this aside, let’s also not overlook the fact that there was nothing at all untoward about these payments.
If a senator is going to suggest the nation’s first African-American president is “acting like the drug dealer in chief,” he should at least try to have the criticism make sense.