This week the Republicans converge on Cleveland, Ohio, a great, old American city, to stroke each other's yokes and probably place Donald Trump officially on the ballot for president. He's bringing along Mike Pence, the socially conservative governor of Indiana who yesterday said of himself that he's "a Christian, a conservative and a Republican, in that order,” and he described Mr. Trump as a “patriotic American.” Why would he feel the need to say that?
Unless you've committed treason, you're a patriotic American. You've not joined ISIS or Al Qaeda? Patriotic American. You've not renounced your citizenship and moved to Canada, New Zealand, or or anywhere else? Patriotic American. Not hiding under Vladimir Putin's skirts? Patriotic American (although Mr. Snowden probably thought what he was doing was for a supremely great idea, even for those CIA operatives in deep cover). You don't have to wear a flag pin to be a patriotic American. By being an American and standing up for yourself and your Constitutional rights, you're a patriotic American. Exercising your right of Free Speech? Practicing the religion of your choice? Do you bear an arm? Patriotic American. Vote and serve on a jury? You get the idea.
Donald Trump keeps talking about making America great again. When did America stop being great? It's the greatest country in the world. Mistakes have been made -- case in point, public education -- but people knock themselves out to be here, live here, vote here. More than any country in the world, Americans can be born with nothing and go on to build a multimillion-dollar corporation. What other country affords that opportunity? You're born in a hovel in Appalachia but can join the military and build a life for yourself that gets you educated, fed, clothed, and sent around the world, and retire as a general. There are opportunities for Americans that can be had if you're willing to take advantage of the pportunities. So what about that makes America less than great?
Mr. Trump enjoys name-calling, not seeing that such behavior diminishes him. All that hot air and he cannot rise above anything. Nothing rolls off Mr. Trump. He takes everything personally and fires back with ill-advised, badly worded, hateful remarks.
It's a Senate election year in Illinois. Congresswoman Tammy Duckworth is the Democratic candidate opposing Senator Mark Kirk, the junior senator from Illinois. Congresswoman Duckworth proudly served in the Iraq War and was the first female double-amputee in that conflict, losing both legs and her right arm damaged. After receiving a medical waiver, she continued in the military as a Lieutenant Colonel in the Illinois Army Reserves, from which she retired. Senator Kirk served in the Naval Reserves and also did active duty. Mark Kirk made some questionable remarks about his own military service, inflating his own record for whatever reason that politicians do boneheaded things. Congresswoman Duckworth, a new mom, has never said or done anything like that because, well, Tammy's record speaks for itself. Senator Kirk released a tweet that Tammy Duckworth didn't stand up for vets. This was over a lawsuit that was dismissed in court three times. (And, still, Senator Kirk did serve for many years and, still, is the Illinois finest embroiderer.)
Mark Kirk, however, good little Republican that I've always thought him to be, came out almost immediately and said he didn't support Mr. Trump. I am convinced that he believes this as he's never backed off the statement. He faces a tough race against Congresswoman Duckworth, so maybe it's chin music, trying to say things that will sway those who might otherwise jump to his opponent. But, honestly, I think he just doesn't like Mr. Trump and what he stands for.
And so Mr. Trump had a meeting with Congressional Republicans and Mark Kirk wasn't invited. At the party, Mr. Trump called Mark Kirk a loser. You know what? That really sizzled my cheese because I think Mark Kirk really isn't a loser. He suffered a massive stroke in 2012. Surgeons went into his brain and removed dead brain tissue. He walks like a guy who had a stroke. After a year of rehab, Mark Kirk came to the US Capitol Building and walked up the steps. Everyone could see him limping and struggling but up the stairs he went, kind of like the Witch of the Waste in "Howl's Moving Castle" only he didn't get his comeuppance when he got to the top; he simply went to back to work as the junior senator from Illinois (who is desperately trying to hang onto his Senate seat). I don't like Mark Kirk, I've never voted for Mark Kirk and never will, I don't much care for the conservatives with whom he associates in Washington, I don't think he's been totally straight with his constituents about his military record, and I look forward to saying the phrase, "Senator Tammy Duckworth," but I don't think a loser would go through a year of rehabilitation and go back to work. Mark Kirk? Not a loser, no, at least not for any reason other than his desperate attempts to remain a senator so he doesn't have to do real work. I hope some businessman will also see that in November when he loses the election and needs to find gainful employment.
What did Mark Kirk say about Mr. Trump? He said he is an "Eastern, privileged, wealthy bully." Yes, that's about right.