Mark Kirk suddenly has more in common with your unhinged uncle than a deliberative member of the U.S. Senate.
There was last month's "bro with no ho" snafu. He claimed Democrats were defending slavery during Loretta Lynch's vetting for attorney general. He told one newspaper earlier this year that people drive faster through black neighborhoods.
But this past week, the Illinois Republican outdid even himself. And, in so doing, took one more step toward national irrelevance.
President "Barack Hussein Obama" aspires "to get nukes to Iran," he told WRKO radio. The president will be responsible for "tens of thousands" of deaths in the Middle East, apparently, because in Kirk's twisted reality, Obama is Iran's pro-nuke agent. He even likened U.S. negotiators to 1930s European leaders who appeased Adolf Hitler.
Kirk went there with reckless abandon. That's his game now. Note his use of "Hussein," code for "Muslim."
The GOP's radical sect has made a living off of questioning Obama's loyalty to his country. The over-the-top reaction to the Iran deal is just the latest example. And Kirk wins the prize for the most irresponsible drivel.
"We all know is going to end with a mushroom cloud somewhere near Tehran,” he said.
This, folks, is what Illinois has sent to the U.S. Senate. Illinoisans thought they elected a center-right fiscal conservative. They instead got the love child of Michele Bachmann and Ted Cruz, a man more concerned with making a name within his party's fringe than representing his constituents. And Kirk's erratic, self-isolating behavior only hurts the state he's supposed to represent.
Is the deal struck last week between the U.S. and world powers and Iran perfect? Certainly not. Neither side got everything they wanted. The negotiations blew through several deadlines. The final weeks saw shouting matches between the various diplomats.
But, in the end, the Western powers and China signed a pact where Iran agreed to reduce its enriched uranium stockpile by more than 90 percent. The deal, assuming everything goes well, will bring international weapons inspectors to Iranian nuclear sites. In return, crushing economic sanctions imposed on Iran could be lifted as early as this year. And, if Iran sticks to the deal, other arms embargoes could fall away over the next decade. Iran has reasons to want this to work, too, the White House correctly argues.
Congress has a duty to eye the agreement with skepticism. Hearings should be held. Analysts should be questioned. But, with senators like Kirk in attendance, such a vetting could be little more than a farce. Criticism flowed from congressional Republicans within minutes of the agreement's announcement. They hadn't even read it. That's the state of American politics now.
Kirk is one of a growing number of political hacks whose rhetoric solely resides within the lowest common denominator. Such behavior has long existed in the House of Representatives. Its sudden appearance in the more stodgy Senate is troubling.
It's no secret that many Republicans, and a few international leaders, want war with Iran. Ripping the president for trying to avoid such a catastrophe is neither patriotic nor reasonable. If Iran doesn't comply, the deal dies. But the attempted diplomatic olive branch is a noble effort. Every American should be pulling for its success.
But Mark Kirk isn't every American. He's become just another loud-mouthed radical who's hoping to overrun the party of Lincoln with anger and spin. And Illinois will pay the price.