It’s Time for Sen. Kirk to Come Home and Get Well

Nov. 6, 2013 


Over the last year, since Sen. Mark Kirk returned to Washington after suffering a stroke in January 2012, I’ve been genuinely concerned about his physical and mental well-being. We’ve all been inspired as we’ve watched his rehabilitation. It took enormous courage for Sen. Kirk to persevere as he faced the daunting challenges associated with his recovery. While Sen. Kirk and I disagree on my issues of policy and ideology, I have wished him nothing but a speedy and full recovery.

As I watched Sen. Kirk on Ch. 11’s Chicago Tonight back in May, struggling to answer questions from Carol Marin, my heart went out to him. I knew Kirk had physical hurdles to overcome, but at that time, I began to question if his mental capabilities had sufficiently recovered to allow him to carry out his duties as a U.S. Senator. That wasn’t an easy question for me to ask myself, as I knew how it might be perceived. I decided to keep my concerns quiet and allow Sen. Kirk additional time to demonstrate that he was ready to serve.

During a Senate hearing earlier this week, Sen. Kirk had an awkward exchange with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ Marilyn Tavenner. Towards the end of his questioning, Sen. Kirk seemed to wander into uncharted territory as he began using Navy lingo, drawing an audible, “what.” from the room, filled with Senators and staffers.

This isn’t easy to say, and it has nothing to do with where Senator Kirk stands on the issues, but there is something obviously wrong. While much of his physical ability has returned, it does appear that Sen. Kirk is still struggling with his ability to communicate and reason, as a result of the effects of his stroke.  I simply do not think he can do his job right now.

It doesn’t make me happy to say it. It actually saddens me, but I truly wonder if we have a United States Senator that has a difficult time putting basic thoughts and sentences together. If that’s the case, then yes, it’s tragic, but can we ignore it? If, for whatever reason, he can’t do his job — physically or mentally — shouldn’t he step down?

I know these are awkward conversations to have, especially since nobody has come out and said it, but it’s reached the point where the question has to at least be asked. He is a United States Senator who is supposed to be representing an entire state — an important job. If a man or a woman can’t do that job, then they ought to step down.

My thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Mark Kirk, but it’s become pretty clear to me that he can’t do his job. It’s time for him to step down, come home to Illinois, and complete his recovery.

16 responses to “It’s Time for Sen. Kirk to Come Home and Get Well”

  1. paul lisula says:

    I think Senator Kirk having had a whole year to recover ,he did not vote on a single bill in congress for a whole year. I think it,s time for him to retire from congress . I hope we can elect a conservative republican to replace him.

  2. […] = = = = = Here is the link to Joe Walsh’s article. […]

  3. […] = = = = = Here is the link to Joe Walsh’s article. […]

  4. Linda Davis says:

    I disagree with you. Sen. Kirk is one of the few congressmen who are working across the aisle to actually get things accomplished. I am a conservative on the issues and I sometimes disagree with Sen. Kirk, but I feel he is doing a good job and am proud to have him represent me in Washington.

  5. Miriam Berry says:

    Joe, I thought exactly the same thing about his exchange with Marilyn Tavenner when I saw it. It is not a bad thing to have to give up on what you are doing to get yourself well and that is what he needs to do. The only problem is…..will another Democrat like Dick Durbin be elected in his place? I would prefer a guy who is still stumbling a bit rather than a bumbling Democrat!!!!! Just one woman’s opinion.

  6. Erin Engelhardt says:

    My basic concern developed long before his return to his Senator’s. I am sympathetic to anyone who has a stroke or some other mishap in their life. But when a Senator is off of ‘work’ he’s not representing his State or his Country in the capacity that he was elected to do. It has always bothered me that they (politicians) have the right to not work with no disruption to their political careers. There should be something in place that a ‘substitute’ can be installed in the interim for emergency medical situations. How many votes did he miss while on his medical furlough?

    I am not insensitive to either him or Gabrielle Giffords…each is tragic in their own way.

    Thank you for your attention.

  7. Arlene Neesan says:

    I agree with you 100%. I am sadden by the fact that we continue to keep people on the payroll that have issues, be they fraudulent, physical or mental. I just don’t understand why we don’t have a law that requires them to be removed after a reasonable period of time, eg 3 or 6 months – it annoys me that his seat was vacant for over a year. The state of Illinois is a challenge by the able bodied. Senator Kirk, thank you for your services but go home and stay home. PS: I have been your biggest supporter in voting.
    Arlene Neesan

  8. Diane Putnam says:

    Has anyone asked Mark Kirk about his prescription medications? I am NOT a doctor and I am not in the medical field in any way but I do have some experience with people who have had strokes, TIAs and brain injuries. Such patients are often given anti-seizure drugs like Dilantin just to prevent the possibility of a seizure. Dilantin is a wonderful drug that serves its purpose well but has some definite side effects. People taking dilantin often feel like they are in a fog, have difficulty quickly thinking of the right words to say or the right way to express what they need to say. Dilantin also affects memory and concentration. Mr. Kirk sounds, to me, like a person who is still recuperating from the stroke and having some difficulties because of his drugs. I think his constituents would be better served if he were to step down from his position, complete his recuperation (a process that can take years) and think about running for office again once he is closer to 100% healthy. He probably has no real concept of how badly he is coming across to other people. In his mind he knows exactly what he is trying to say but the dilantin ( or whatever drug is taking) is ruining his ability to get clearly and quickly to the point. He is not serving his constituents or himself by trying to do too much too soon.

  9. Dan Cerny says:

    Ouch. You are to the point, Joe. Why change now. Though your letter is thoughtful, the only thing I can see opposition pouncing upon is “struggling with his ability to communicate and reason, as a result of the effects of his stroke”. They will focus on criticizing your medical expertise. But then, as Chico said, “Who are you going to believe, me or your own eyes?”

  10. […] by calling for Kirk to seriously consider stepping down because of his health. Walsh then posted another piece on the next day reiterating that […]

  11. yuriy says:

    Do you like our beloved governer to sell this Senate seat? But senator Mark Kirk should retire and get well.

  12. K Berg says:

    If Kirk can’t speak coherently, NO ONE can guarantee that he’s thinking clearly. His position, his vote is far too important to merely trust that he is mentally competent.

  13. Ray Eaton says:

    Very diplomatic Joe and I couldn’t agree with you more. I personally have wondered the same thing. I have always had a huge amount of respect for Mr. Kirk but I’m sorry. It’s time to step down. My prayers go out for him.

  14. Hans Schaden says:

    Have myself contacted Sen. Kirk about his near total reversal of policies since being elected. Like so many GOP senators, he feels no compulsion to vote as his constituents “representative,” but only as their master.

    Always felt he was a weak RINO at heart, but that stroke really pushed him over the edge. Recall, when he returned he claimed the stroke gave him a “clearer perception” – –much like the drug use who thinks he sees and understands everything better when doped up!

    He votes with the islamo-marxist regime on almost every issue now and has united with McLiar, Goober, McConnell, Corker, Murkowski etc. — when I do write to him, I address him as Sen. Kirk, D-Il.

    Time for him to retire!

  15. Don L says:

    Kirk has always been a RINO, DAY ONE! Get out and do not let the door hit you in the a$$!

  16. Robert Beltran says:

    If coherence and expression of logical thought while serving the interests of those least able to sway the powers of government are mandatory qualifiers for office, I’m surprised you didn’t resign during the first month of your tenure, Joe.