Thursday, August 04, 2005

A conversation on Mark Kirk

You have probably seen my previous posts about Rep. Mark Kirk (here and here). I have received a couple e-mails suggesting that this is a partisan vendetta. I assure you it isn't. Rather than explain it again, though, I thought I would show you a conversation I am having with a blogger named Amy Allen in her comments.

I was the one casting aspersions on his credentials, but, as they say, if the aspersion fits...

Kirk, if he did not deploy to Iraq, cannot be considered a veteran of Iraqi Freedom. Service stateside does not qualify him for that title. I give him credit for serving, but he's no longer an Iraqi Freedom veteran than George W. Bush is a Vietnam Veteran. The White House's own website says that those who are qualified for the Iraq Campaign medal must

serve or have served in Iraq or contiguous waters or air space, as defined by such regulations, on or after March 19, 2003, and before a terminal date to be prescribed by the Secretary of Defense.

Kirk did not.

Let me give you an example. I recently returned from Afghanistan and, therefore, qualify for the Afghanistan campaign medal. I am a veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom. Those of my unit who did not deploy but remained behind serving their "one weekend a month, two weeks a year" do not qualify for the medal and are, therefore, not veterans of OEF. It's simple, really.
nitpicker | Homepage | 08.03.05 - 12:48 pm | #


...Hats off on your service in the armed forces. Congressman Kirk considers himself a veteran, and, in the popular parlance, someone who is in the armed forces at a particular time is a veteran of the conflict transpiring at that time.
Amy Allen | Homepage | 08.03.05 - 5:16 pm | #


Kirk is a veteran, but he has not "served in Iraqi Freedom." Neither have I. Neither of us are Iraqi Freedom veterans. So says the Navy.
nitpicker | Homepage | 08.03.05 - 8:12 pm | #


Mr/Ms "Nitpicker"
Congressman Kirk identifies himself as having "served stateside" in OIF, which is an accurate summization. He is on inactive status not of his own choosing, but of neccessity of having to attend to his duties in the US House.
Amy Allen | Homepage | 08.03.05 - 9:05 pm | #


He took part in Operation Iraqi Freedom like Bush took part in the Alabam Air Gaurd. It's just not accurate in any way.
Conspire C. Dude | 08.04.05 - 10:46 am | #


Congressman Kirk is a distinguished combat veteran of Operation: Northern Watch and served stateside in Operation: Iraqi Freedom. He is on non drilling reservist status for teh aforementioned reasons. I am disappointed in anyone who would choose to malign Congressman Kirk's credentials or insinuate that he is being disingenuous. He is a man of integrity and would mislead or deceive no one.
Amy | Homepage | 08.04.05 - 11:54 am | #



On his house site (here) it says he "is the only member of Congress to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom." I spoke to the Navy Office of Information myself and was told "Someone would have had to serve in Iraq to have served in Iraqi Freedom."

He's clearly being disingenuous. The fact that you can't admit it because he's a Republican makes you doubly so.
nitpicker | Homepage | 08.04.05 - 7:07 pm | #


How is he being disingenuous? In the popular parlance, he would be considered to have served in Operation Iraqi Freedom. He also readily identifies himself as having served stateside. B., why is it a point of such unresolved contention among certain Democrats? Sir, your being a Democrat makes you equally disingenuous, if that's the game we're playing. But, I would like to think that this comes down to something more than partisan politics.
Amy | Homepage | 08.04.05 - 8:06 pm | #


It does come down to something more than partisan politics. Soldiers take very seriously the idea of service. If you say you did something and you didn't your a fraud. He did not serve in Iraqi Freedom. Period.

You may or may not remember ADM Mike Boorda. When I was in the Navy, he was the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy's top officer. I met the man several times and never hope to meet as fine an officer in my life. He had risen from the lowest enlisted rank to the most exalted rank in the service through genius, skill (he was said to be the Navy's best ship pilot) and a sense of duty to his service and his sailors. We needed Boorda. He took over at a time when the Navy was going through the Tailhook scandal and its image was suffering. So, when COL David Hackworth wrote that he was wearing a valor award that he had not earned, ADM Boorda stepped onto his lawn with a pistol and shot himself in the chest. He died.

It turned out later that the award Boorda was said to be wearing wrongly was a "V device," given to sailors who have performed an action under fire. Boorda had been under fire as the commander of a ship, but the device had never been officially rewarded. I seethed at Hackworth (and a part of me still does), but Hackworth explained his article this way.
I pursued the story because for a soldier or sailor there's no greater disgrace than wearing unearned valor awards. Combat ribbons -- awards for which so many brave warriors have bled -- are the ultimate status symbol to warriors. They bring a special recognition and respect.

And with military leaders, from corporal to four-star rank, there's a larger issue: integrity. The very bedrock of any military organization is honor, doing the hard right over the easy wrong and standing tall in everything that's done.

I understand that you're a civilian, but it's this simple: If Kirk served in Iraq, then he served in Iraqi Freedom. He would be allowed to wear the Iraq Campaign medal. If he did not serve there and does not qualify for the medal, then he is claiming the honor of a service he did not earn. As Hackworth wrote, "Midshipmen at Annapolis, cadets at West Point, the Air Force Academy, all the ROTCs and other officer-producing schools in the land are taught the code, 'I will not lie, cheat or steal nor tolerate anyone who does.'"

I cannot tolerate this unbecoming claim by any officer, especially when this claim has clearly been made in order to pad his resume for political purposes. You want this to be about more than politics. It is. It is about honor. It is about integrity. If you value those things more than your party, you will agree with me and join me in asking Rep. Kirk to quit claiming an honor he did not earn.
nitpicker | Homepage | 08.04.05 - 9:36 pm | #
For the record, I eventually forgave Hackworth for his article, even though it turned out he might have had some problems of his own.

What I find difficult is that so many people on the right love to toss around the words honor and courage, but will embrace dishonor if it serves a political purpose. Call me an idealist if you will...


Blogger Amy Allen said...

-Thank you for the link.
-"Pad his resume for political purposes? If Kirk served in Iraq, then he served in Iraqi Freedom. "
-Maybe it doesn't merit reiterating, but Congressman Kirk aptly characterizes his service as being "stateside." In the popular parlance, his credentials are accepted as being that of a veteran of Iraqi Freedom.
-Also, in no place does Kirk identify himself as being a "veteran" of Iraqi Freedom. Perhaps this is an oversight, or he is invoking the conventions to which you refer.

5:12 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

Look again at this screen shot. He's not saying he was stateside there.

Also, does that mean every National Guardsmen and Reservist served "in Iraqi Freedom" just because it was happening on one of their drill weekends? No. It doesn't. You can keep saying the same thing over and over again, but the Navy agrees with me.

5:29 AM  
Anonymous Jim said...


You posted "Call me an idealist if you will ..."

Ok, "You are an idealist"

We need more like you.

Even if Rep. Kirk's choice of language was not politically motivated, it provided an opening for a partisan, political attqack by Jean Schmidt upon Paul Hackett in the special election in Ohio's 2nd district. Kirk has an obligation to set the record straight that, while proud of his service to our nation, according to the precise definitions used by the US Armed Forces he did not serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Welcome back from Afghanisan, it's good to read your posts again.


6:35 AM  
Blogger CJ said...

Terry's right. It's not partisan politics and it's not semantics; it's integrity and if Rep. Kirk doesn't care to set the record straight, then he has none.

Unlike other unit ribbons which may be given to any member of a unit, campaign medals are exclusive precisely because those members' service is distinct.

Instead of displaying some yellow magnet on your SUV (translated "popular parlance"), try supporting the troops by recognizing this distinction.

In Amy's popular parlance if I had joined about 3-4 months earlier (I can't remember the exact cut-off), I would have technically been a Vietnam Era vet but that still would not have made me a Vietnam vet -BIG difference.

Yes, I was in the military as a pup and only for one 4-year tour in peace time. I was also in the right branch - the USAF (sorry Terry, couldn't resist a little inter-branch jab and a little levity couldn't hurt 'cause I'm starting to get pissed off and I'm not even a war vet).

11:53 AM  
Blogger Nitpicker said...

'S'OK, CJ.

As both a Navy and an Army vet, I'm obviously not a "service partisan."

1:34 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Me neither really but I have to say, at 18, Navy and AF are the only ones I considered.

Being a science geek, I was in the medical squadron (clinical lab) and many didn't consider us to really be part of the military (we wore different uniforms and everything).

I imagine everyone's experience is unique but in the medical squadron, with the exception of a few older noncoms, most were there for a single hitch to either get the educational benefits or to pay back time for those already received.

However, after four good years it was a difficult decision to turn down the plum assignment they offered me from my dream sheet but I was determined to stick to my original plan of 4 years, GI bill (which ended up covering my undergrad and one year of grad school) and out to school.

3:46 PM  
Blogger Amy Allen said...

"Kirk is the only member of Congress to serve stateside during Operation Iraqi Freedom......"-
Elsewhere, he identifies himself as having served "stateside."
-Also, would you dispute that he "served" in the armed forces? If one "serves" in the armed forces but does not "serve" in Operation: Iraqi Freedom, though one's work was under the umbrella of O:IF, how did one "serve?"

7:05 PM  
Blogger Amy Allen said...

If we agree that he "served" in the armed forces during OIF, and dispute only the matter of his not always having identified it as "stateside," this comes down to a matter of one word that was omitted in certain circumstances. In other words, minutia.

7:12 PM  
Anonymous wtf said...

Clearly Amy is onto something here and you guys just can't admit you're wrong, but I don't understand for the life of me why she's leaving out the part about him being a Civil War Vet, a Vet of both WW's, as well as a veteran of the epic war against the intergalactic empire of Kershkunflufferooee some 240 years in the future (though he was stateside for all of them except the civil war, of course).

11:17 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

You know Amy, it's like all those times when everyone else in the room was laughing as the punchline sailed right over your head - your use of "minutia" [sic] (we'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you inadvertently left off the "e") demonstrates your failure to comprehend the issue that Terry has raised.

So, say good night, Amy.

"Good night", Amy.

12:37 AM  
Blogger Ellen Beth said...

AmyEAllen does not know much about Kirk at all and does not even live in his district.

8:59 PM  
Anonymous El Tommo! said...

Ah, Amy. Your dedication to shilling is commendable. I wonder if they give an award for that? Hahahaha.

11:17 AM  

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