My Illinois Senator Mark Kirk's Washington Post op ed and constituent email on how his stroke made him a better Senator and a better man was long on sentiment and short on substance.
His recovery from a devastating and near deadly stroke a year ago is remarkable both as a testament to the state of medical care available to those fortunate to have access to it, and to Kirk's indomitable will to recover. However, it sure doesn't appear to have changed Kirk's political philosophy and policies that have been devastating to Illinois, America and the world.
Consider health care. Go to Kirk's web site and you will not find one word about extending even a pittance of the fabulous government paid health care that not only saved Kirk's life but enabled him to regain a significant portion of pre stroke health, to the 40 million folks without adequate or any health insurance. Apparently, Kirk's claim that his stroke make him more appreciative of "the dignity of all Americans' common humanity" doesn't extend to preventing them from ruined lives, poor health and death simply because they fell through the canyons of our disgraceful health insurance industry.
Consider endless and unbridled militarism. Kirk, entering Congress in 2001, voted for every one of the trillion dollars for our senseless and murderous Iraq war which slaughtered hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, in addition to the 4,488 GI's killed and hundreds of thousands wounded, injured or mentally broken. Kirk also supports the equally senseless and failed Afghan war. Against all logic and moral decency Kirk demands, on his website, that we stay in Afghanistan till we "succeed". Tens of thousands dead there, including 2,177 GI's for absolutely nothing has made no dent on Kirk's conscience, pre or post stroke. Not satisfied with enabling these two catastrophes, Kirk has long been one of the most hawkish Senators for ratcheting up sanctions and threatening war against Iran, claiming their imagined lust for a nuke would "set off a nuclear arms race in the Middle East", conveniently omitting that Israel has about a hundred or more nukes which Kirk pretends don't exist.
The reasons for Kirk's endless warmongering is understandable. He puts me and my 13 million fellow Illinoisans a distant third behind his two major constituencies, the Military-Industrial Complex and the Likud wing of the Israel Lobby. We were spared for a year his endless posturing on their behalf, ignoring that America is literally crumbling under us from failure to invest in education, health care, renewable energy, infrastructure. I cheered his recovery and hoped he'd had a true epiphany so that his return to the Senate would be one of promoting peace instead of war; rebuilding America instead of destroying the Middle East and Africa with endless warfare. Alas, his first major stab at statesmanship has been to announce he'll oppose former Republican Senator Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary because he'll be too soft on Iran and too hard on Israel. Kirk said his stroke and recovery make him "want to make my life matter by doing work that matters to others". Unfortunately, the "others" he refers to are the warmongers, both foreign and domestic, who are hell bent to reap unending destruction to keep the profits and the power rolling in.
Kirk says he wants his life "to count for something more than the honors I once craved." If he will publically renounce the Military Industrial Complex and the Likud wing of the Israel Lobby, and truly oppose senseless war, he might just be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. That is an award he should always crave.