Can Republicans Learn Lessons In Reality That Contradict Their Inhumane Ideology? Ask Senator Mark Kirk
THE WASHINGTON POST
Mark Kirk makes dramatic return to the SenateIn a dramatic return to Capitol Hill less than a year after suffering a stroke, Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) climbed the stairs of the Senate Thursday as most of his colleagues watched and cheered.
Posted by Ed O'Keefe on January 3, 2013
Shortly after 11:30 a.m., Kirk emerged from an SUV parked by the Senate carriage entrance of the Capitol and walked over to the main staircase, where he was greeted by Vice President Biden, his fellow Illinois senator, Dick Durbin (D) and close friend, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W. Va.).
“Welcome back, man!” Biden said as a crowd of hundreds cheered.
Kirk, using a cane and gripping the arm of Senate Sergeant at Arms Terrance Gainer, beamed as he approached his colleagues.
“You know, during the debate I was rooting for you,” Kirk told Biden, who laughed heartily.
As he rounded the corner of the center of the Senate steps, Kirk waved and the crowd cheered again. He stood at the bottom of the Senate steps before making a slow climb with the assistance of Biden and Manchin. Kirk’s left leg shook as he raised it with each step; he stopped at least three times, with Biden quipping at one point that he wouldn’t permit the senator to take so many breaks.
Biden, as president of the Senate, played a formal and symbolic role, since the vice president also suffered a stroke in 1989. After seven months of hospitalization, Biden was escorted up the steps in a similar fashion by Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan (D-N.Y.).
Kirk, 53, served for 10 years in the House before taking over the seat once held by President Obama in 2011. His return marks a remarkable year of recovery following a stroke on Jan. 21, 2012. . . .
Mark Kirk is a mainstream conservative Republican who never seemed all that interested in the dysfunctional nonsense the Confederates and fascists who dominate the GOP insist on. He didn't participate much in the Senate last year because of a debilitating stroke that had him laid up since last January. This week he did an interview with Natasha Korecki of the Chicago Sun-Times that indicates his process of healing may have made him less susceptible to the vicious anti-family mania of his political party.
Kirk, who had once proposed an assault weapons ban when he was a congressman, said he would again support that same ban. He offered a new perspective on the Illinois Medicaid program and what it offers to those with low incomes even as sources close to Kirk say his medical situation has affecte his personal savings and retirement accounts.
During the interview, Kirk briefly appeared to grow emotional when asked what he wanted to tell the people of Illinois.
“I would just say thank you for the honor of representing you,” Kirk said. “You now have a senator who is totally focused on those who have gone through stroke and how we can recover their lives and make sure they have the chance to come all the way back.”
Kirk, who is just 53, had to teach himself how to walk again. Among those walking up the Capitol steps with him Thursday will be Dick Durbin, his friend and fellow U.S. senator from Illinois.
“Dick Durbin has always taken the high road with regard to any comment about my stroke,” Kirk said.
Even though he’s in a different party, Durbin, a Democrat, also helped push through legislation on Kirk’s behalf.
“He’s earned a friend for life because of that,” Kirk said.
...Kirk credits his recovery to his medical team-- which will address the media Thursday after Kirk’s walk up the steps.
Going through the health-care roller coaster gave him a different perspective on health care-- but not enough that he would have endorsed the Affordable Care Act. He does plan to take a closer look at funding of the Illinois Medicaid program for those with have no income who suffer a stroke, he said. In general, a person on Medicaid in Illinois would be allowed 11 rehab visits, he said.
“Had I been limited to that, I would have had no chance to recover like I did,” Kirk said. “So unlike before suffering the stroke, I’m much more focused on Medicaid and what my fellow citizens face.”
Kirk has the same federal health-care coverage available to other federal employees. He has incurred major out-of-pocket expenses, which have affected his savings and retirement, sources familiar with Kirk’s situation said.
...Kirk said he would have voted “no” in the deal that ultimately averted the “fiscal cliff” late Tuesday-- that would have put him in the minority of senators who voted against the compromise.
“For me, I will say the thing is that I miss most, is to apply what I’ve learned to be more compassionate and to break the partisan rancor that is so evident lately,” Kirk said of the political wrangling of late.