Senate Hopeful Mark Kirk Well Compensated For Fighting For Mideast Status Quo
Congressman Mark Kirk, who just won the Republican primary for Barack Obama's old seat in the Senate, is a huge favorite of AIPAC, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. In fact, he has cultivated the relationship with AIPAC's lobbyists since he was a young Congressional aide. I recall that, as an aide, he was a de facto AIPAC staffer; hanging out with AIPAC during work hours and after.
His friendship with AIPAC has paid off royally.
Since 2000, Kirk has received $1,025,437 from so-called "pro-Israel" PACs, making him #7 out of the 20 top recipients. The remarkable thing is that, of the 10, Kirk is the only House member. The rest are senators, including the biggest name senators.
In 2008, Kirk was ranked #4, just below three senators who were also Presidential candidates: Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton.
Kirk's appeal to the PACs is mighty impressive until you realize why these PACs give to Kirk.
It is not because Kirk is pro-Israel. Virtually every member of the House and Senate supports our special relationship with and aid to Israel. It is because no one is more reliable than Mark Kirk when it comes to supporting the status quo. His idea of supporting Israel is simply to keep things just as they are, which, not coincidentally, is also the way the lobby sees it. And he goes way to the right of the lobby when it comes to directing hate speech at Palestinians. In fact, during a pro-Israel pep rally during the Gaza war - at a time when Gaza was under nonstop bombardment that led to 1400 dead - Kirk told a cheering audience, "It's time to take out the trash in Gaza."
The lobby and its PACs will be going all out for Kirk this year. In fact, his election will surely be their #1 priority. If he wins, the lobby will have a stalwart enforcer of the status quo who can be expected to pressure his colleagues to fall in line.
Fortunately, Israel has leaders like its Minister of Defense, Ehud Barak, who understands what Kirk doesn't: that the status quo is deadly. Barak said that yesterday, picking up on former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert who has repeatedly asked Israel's American friends to fight hard for Israel's security by fighting hard for peace with the Palestinians.