That last comment string was getting a bit long, so I figured I'd report in on a conference call that Congressman Mark Kirk hosted tonight for 10th District Republican leaders - mostly precinct and township chairmen and committeemen (and women). Kirk realizes the 'firestorm' his vote on the 'Cap and Trade' climate change bill has caused, at least on the right side of the political spectrum, and understands that he need to explain his reasoning, clearly and simply, and (frankly) give people the opportunity to vent.
I think that many Republicans who were initially (and may still be) very upset with Kirk's vote in favor of the bill needed (and need) to: 1) vent their frustration and confusion; 2) hear Kirk's explanation as to why he cast the vote he did; and, 3) be reassured that Kirk has not walked off the reservation. I think the call accomplished those goals, and he will continue to reach out to his constituency in the 10th District in the coming days and weeks.
I won't repeat the entire call blow-by-blow, but a few points stand out.
First, for those folks who have wondered (not without some cause, perhaps) as to what the heck Kirk received in return for his vote from the Emanuel/Pelosi machine, the answer was nada, nothing, zip. In fact, Mark shared that on Friday, President Obama called him twice and Kirk refused to take the call (too busy reading the bill, I assume). Apparently, that was the very first instance The One ever experienced of someone in Kirk's position not taking his call. Hopefully it won't be the last. So, for anyone who was worried that Kirk had been bought by the Dems, that's not the case.
Second, Kirk pointed out that on every other major vote that has occurred in this Congress, Kirk has voted WITH the Republicans and against the Obama administration. On major legislation like the Stimulus, the budget, the Ledbetter Act, Kirk voted with the GOP 100%. Kirk is also gearing up to be a leader on the Republican alternative to ObamaCare, which has all the markings of being a far more important (and much bigger blow to the economy) than the Climate Change bill.
Mark talked a lot about the upcoming fight on health care, and the GOP realizes that you cannot fight something with nothing. While some might contend that given the resources of the Obama administration, and there is no way the GOP can come up with anything that will counter the Obama plan, Kirk begs to differ. He stated that he and his people have written about 75% of the GOP answer to Obama's health care takeover bill, so get ready for the next major battle in Congress to take place very soon. I'm confident that the GOP will support Kirk's position and understand that one vote does not a lost cause make.
Kirk admitted fully that the Climate Change bill was "imperfect." But, as an opportunity to support renewable energy and encourage technology-forcing change in this country that would finally begin to wean ourselves from foreign interests, it simply could not be ignored. While Kirk also acknowledged that the Dems had rushed the bill through, he also noted that even the GOP leader, John Boehner, has always said that people do not remember procedural issues months after a vote; it's the substance of a bill that resonates with the voters. Kirk also noted that the word from his constituents in the 10th was overwhelmingly in favor of the bill, and that serious opposition only developed in the final 48 hours before the vote. As Mark said on the call, in a situation where the will of the public seems to be in flux and somewhat capricious, you have to trust to your own best judgment, and as one of the few people who spent a lot of time reading the bill and meeting with folks like Midwest Generation (which supported the bill), Mark had to vote the way his heart and mind told him.
Mark reiterated that the financial impact on taxpayers would not be significant; especially here in Illinois, where we already have a more stringent renewable energy requirement (25%) under state law than is called for in the climate change bill. Mark also emphasized his commitment to developing domestic power sources such as nuclear energy. Try getting that from the Dems.
Kirk's primary goal with his vote was to show support for a plan to reduce dependence on foreign oil, which hardly anyone can argue with as a goal important for our economy and national security. In the end, you may not agree with his vote, but as we've said here time and again, we'd rather have a thinking Congressman that will vote his heart and mind (and agree with most of the GOP 90% of the time) than the alternative (imagine the Dan Seals perspective not just on climate change, but health care and other critical issues).
Kirk will continue to engage the voters of the 10th District until every constituent that wants to make his or her voice heard by the Congressman has had their say. He may not convince you, and you may not forgive him, but he still has my vote, and hopefully the vote of many thinking Republicans in the 10th.