Brutal: Giannoulias Dismantled on Loans to Mobsters

Posted: Oct 11, 2010 9:40 AM
Sunday's Meet the Press featured a lengthy debate between Illinois Senate candidates Mark Kirk (R) and Alexi Giannoulias (D).  The entire exchange is worth watching, but the portion that must have been especially excruciating for Illinois Democrats to watch was NBC anchor David Gregory's fruitless attempts to get straight answers from Giannoulias about multimillion-dollar loans his family's bank made to convicted organized crime figures:

The Democrat's slimy evasions were then pummeled by Kirk, who displayed a handy roster of the individual mobsters' names.  Giannoulias' lame defense was to say that Kirk had "no private sector experience" in how small banks determine which loans to make, and therefore had no standing to criticize him on the matter.  Kirk shot right back:   "I'll tell you the private sector experience that I don't have.  I don't have experience in loaning money to mafia figures."  Ouch.

Earlier in the weekend, Kirk received a resounding endorsement from the Chicago Tribune, which backed Barack Obama in his 2004 Senate and 2008 Presidential runs:

We suspect [Giannoulias] senses what many voters are asking — not him personally, but themselves — about his professional maturity:

• Which of these two candidates will weigh, and decide, questions on national security and other crucial issues more on the merits than on the politics?

• Which would we want as the senator who could eventually make the extraordinarily sensitive selection of U.S. attorneys — the top federal prosecutors, such as Patrick Fitzgerald — for Illinois?

• And on the issue that most roils American politics this autumn, out-of-control federal spending, would Giannoulias or Kirk make unpopular, potentially career-ending votes for restraint?

That last question will dominate much of the next few years. On Tuesday, The Wall Street Journal reported that the Congressional Budget Office now projects spending on the big three entitlement programs alone — Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — to rise by 70 percent, 79 percent and 99 percent respectively …over just the next 10 years.

We want the most capable senator protecting the U.S. from its enemies abroad and its unsustainable finances at home. Mark Kirk will be that senator.

The Trib editors also hit Giannoulias for his embarrassing performance during his editorial sit-down, when he couldn't specify a single spending bill he'd have opposed as a Senator:

[Giannoulias does not] pretend to be independent of party orthodoxy, from health care regulation to tax hikes to Big Labor's beloved "card check." Ask Giannoulias what federal spending bill of the last two years he would have opposed and, after some painful-to-watch evasion, he cannot name one. Ask him where he most strenuously disagrees with his party's policies and watch his intellectual gears grind as he grasps for anything controversial on which he disagrees at all.

Between the Tribune endorsement and the candidates' MTP exchange, Mark Kirk just won the weekend in a major way.