For the first time since Rep. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) was caught misspeaking about his military, Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.) was asked why those exaggerations were any different than the ones he criticized Connecticut Senate candidate Richard Blumenthal for making several weeks ago.
The Texas Republican, who heads the National Republican Senatorial Committee, attempted to offer a distinction. But the fall-back argument seemed to fall short.
"Mark Kirk made clear that his company, his organization got that medal and not him personally," Cornyn told Fox News Sunday. "I think the problem with Mr. Blumenthal was that when he misrepresented his service in Vietnam he had a press conference thereafter and said he had misspoken. That is like shooting yourself in one foot and then reloading and shooting yourself in the other foot. People are human, they make mistakes, they ought to admit it, and hopefully people will forgive them and they can move on. There are a lot of other very important issues in the Illinois senate race and we do expect Mark Kirk to be the next United States senator from Illinois in the seat formally held by Barack Obama."
Blumenthal's press conference, in which he admitted to misspeaking, was credited by multiple high-ranking Democrats with helping him stem the bleeding created by his exaggeration of his service (or lack thereof) in Vietnam. For Cornyn to compare it to "shooting yourself in the other foot" is to ignore the boost the Connecticut attorney general got from copping to his mistakes.
Kirk too has said he misspoke. "I am sorry, absolutely," the congressman told the Chicago Tribune on Friday. "You should speak with utter precision. You should stand on the documented military record."
So it's not entirely clear what difference there is between him and Blumenthal except for the fact that the congressman has not held a press conference, and he was also caught misleading about how he discovered he had misstated the awards he had won. The problem facing Kirk, indeed, has been the cover up as much as the crime itself.