Obama’s Old Senate Seat Is Haunting Him

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Republicans frustrated on Election Night 2010 that the GOP was unable to win Vice President Joe Biden’s old Senate seat in Delaware were heartened later in the night when they won a more symbolic and consequential seat: President Barack Obama’s seat in Illinois.

But it turned out that the victory was more than symbolic. The new senator from Illinois, former Rep. Mark Kirk, has been perhaps the president’s most knowledgeable and substantive critic in Congress on the issue of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The president’s old seat then, far from being just another statistic in the Republican election wave, has been haunting him, doggedly pursuing him as he navigates the challenge of Mideast peace.

There are two facets to the effectiveness of Kirk’s criticisms: timing and issue depth.

The day Hamas and Fatah announced they had reached a unity deal, Kirk tweeted almost immediately: “Hamas+Fatah=probable suspension of US aid to Palestinian Authority…Hamas supports terror, killed 26 American citizens.”

Kirk’s rapid response gives him credibility on the issue—he doesn’t have to convene focus group to test its popularity or call together his advisers to find out what it all means. This would be a tremendous detriment if he was wrong, but he wasn’t. He has a strong enough grasp of American law and of Palestinian politics to know right away the implications of major developments in the region.

In March, we saw the brutal murders of the Fogel family (including three children) by Palestinian terrorists in the Jewish village of Itamar. While the Western media gave it scant attention and some news outlets portrayed the Fogel family as deserving of their fate for living in disputed territory, Israeli officials recognized the culprit: A Palestinian media that dehumanizes Jews to the point where slitting the throat of a young child becomes something less than barbaric.

Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon told me a couple days after the murders that such events don’t happen in a vacuum, and that the incitement must end. Mark Kirk was one of the few in the U.S. to draw the same conclusion, and he led the writing of a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, pressing her to take a more forceful tack with Mahmoud Abbas on the issue. The letter, which garnered the signatures of more than a quarter of the Senate, read in part:

“Although President Abbas has expressed his sorrow over the Itamar massacre, the Palestinian Authority must take unequivocal steps to condemn the incident and stop allowing the incitement that leads to such crimes. Educating people toward peace is critical to establishing the conditions to a secure and lasting peace.

“The Itamar massacre was a sobering reminder that words matter, and that Palestinian incitement against Jews and Israel can lead to violence and terror.  We urge you to redouble your efforts to impress upon the Palestinian leadership that continuing to condone incitement is not tolerable.  We also urge you to consider focusing adequate training and educational programs in the West Bank and Gaza that promote peaceful coexistence with Israel.”

The letter, importantly, also includes other recent instances of official Palestinian incitement to back up its claims.

This is nothing new for Kirk. About a year ago, when the Israeli housing minister announced plans for more homes in a Jewish neighborhood in Jerusalem while Biden was visiting, administration officials berated Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, though it was clear at the time that Netanyahu didn’t know the announcement was coming either. Kirk and Pennsylvania Democrat Christopher Carney wrote to Obama asking him to keep his eye on the ball.

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  • jacob

    I guess it is time to show the White House present occupant who is actually boss,
    as he seems to believe he is above the law in every respect…

    I love his sychophantic media silence about the quality of his "CZARS" choices but
    their scandal when GWB appointed JOHN BOLTON Ambassador to the U N, the
    only ambassador USA ever had who dared reading this corrupt body the riot act
    without diplomatic finesses AND WHO IS TO ME, THE BEST PRESIDENTIAL

  • StephenD

    Maybe there is hope for us yet. Kirk, Rubio, West, Ryan…there are some fine folks showing themselves to have America's best interests at heart and are not pandering to the P.C. crowd. Leaders like this can be the spark we need to turn this country around.

  • Mop

    Question: Who does a US Senator represent?
    Answer: All the people of the state who elected him

    Resource: USCIS Naturalization exam

    I did not realize Illinois included Israel?

    • Alaskat

      Mop, the people of any state have opinions on many matters concerning the nation and the world. Thus their congressional representatives, in order to be receptive to all their concerns, must address their concerns about Israel and the world in general as well as state matters. Long gone are the days when the people could ignore what is going on in the world and how the United States is responding to these circumstances.
      Welcome to the 21st century!

    • Democracy First

      Question: Who does a US president represent?
      Answer: All the people of the nation that elected him.

      I did not realize the US included Israel. Obama, no more comments on Israel or the M.E.

    • jeff

      Your not to bright .He's a U.S.Senator(U.S. Meaning United States)Not State Senator ( State Meaning State). And if we cant stand up for our only friend in the middle east ,then we stand for the enemy.The enemy that has pledged not only to kill all the jews(little satan)but also all americans(big satan) and anyone who refuses accept there child molesting prophet.I bet your friends would really like to know how you would turn your back on them if someone was going to take their lives.And made it plain to everyone by their actions , they are serious.With friends like you , who needs enemies.

  • Walt Irons

    Having lived in Illinois for over thirty years I find what Sen. Kirk is doing highly acceptable. Another angle to this story is that now Illinois now has a Senator who works: all "Senator" Obama did was run for the presidency with an occasional appearance in the Senate Chamber.

    Perhaps the Republican party is finding new life in Illinois,

  • Jim Scott

    Sen.Kirk can make a difference in 2012!

  • fred

    It sounds like Kirk actually has a brain. I hope it uses it – unlike most of our representatives who vote the way they're told to vote by party leadership.

    When I see voting along party lines, it confirms to me that our representatives are brainless. I like thinkers, not robots.

  • Supreme_Galooty

    Leaving religion and politics out of it for the time being, consider if our neighbors in Canada were split into two camps who had seemingly irreconcilable differences. One group keeps their noses to the grindstone, producing scientists, engineers, and physicians, all while minding their own business and just getting things done.

    The other group engages in strange religious practices that force them to stop whatever they are doing, wherever they may be, wrap explosives around their middles whilst they bow down to the Arabic home of pederasty and pedophilia, and ululate countless times per day. No wonder they get nothing constructive done worth shaking a sheep crook at.

    One group builds schools and hospitals. The other group blows them up. Who would YOU root for? Even if you buy the Palestinian lies of "Palestinianship," you surely couldn't blame the first group for considering the second group nothing more than violent, sub-human, marauding nomads who deserve nothing but contempt and permanent exile.

  • JPThomassen

    Encouraging info

  • astra

    Obama is a racist bitch bending over for any radical elitist with a big cock..

    • "gunner"

      @ astra,
      probably true, but there might be a better way to phrase it in polite company.