The Republican candidate for President Obama's old Senate seat inaccurately claimed to have received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s.
Rep. Mark Kirk, a Navy reservist elected to Congress in 2001, acknowledged the error in his official biography after The Washington Post began looking into whether he had received the prestigious award, which is given by top Navy officials to a single individual annually. The Post's inquiries were sparked by complaints from a representative of state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, Kirk's Democratic opponent in the Illinois Senate race.
Kirk, an Appropriations Committee member, changed his Web site last week to incorporate a different account of the award. Kirk wrote on his blog that "upon a recent review of my records, I found that an award listed in my official biography was misidentified" and that the award he had intended to list was given to his entire unit.
A professional group, the National Military Intelligence Association, gave Kirk's unit -- based in Aviano, Italy -- an award for outstanding service in 2000. The association's Vice Admiral Rufus L. Taylor Award celebrates "the exceptional achievements of an outstanding Naval Intelligence career professional," but the citation does not mention Kirk and instead designates the entire Intelligence Division Electronic Attack Wing at Aviano.
This story was very interesting to me because conservatives made such a big deal about Attorney General Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut misstating his service in Vietnam, giving the impression that he served overseas during his time in the military. The folks at Big Government immediately went on the attack, seeing his error as a boon for Republican candidate and wrestling impresario Linda McMahon, but it so happens Blumenthal is still leading in the polls 56%-31%.
Now that the shoe is on the other foot, I wonder what the right-wing media would have to say about this?
It seems that the media is much more forgiving with Kirk then they were with Blumenthal, with most calling it a misunderstanding, pointing out that the error was brought to attention by representatives of his Democratic candidate Alexi Giannoulias. Kirk even made similar misstatements like Blumenthal, stating at a Congressional budget hearing on March 13, 2002 that he "was the Navy’s intelligence officer of the year in 1998."
Two weeks ago, according to pollsters at Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, the Kirk-Giannouulias race was a tie, and from what I've read, it is still a tight race, but this revelation regarding Kirk's military award could level the playing field, especially since there are some doubts lingering regarding the Blumenthal thing...