Old Foes Clash in Illinois over Iran Deal

Schakowsky and Kirk (Images by Associated Press)
Images by Associated Press

A war of words–and fundraising emails–has erupted between Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) over the Iran deal. The fight began when Schakowsky objected to Kirk’s remark to Politico that “Neville Chamberlain got a lot of more out of Hitler than [U.S. negotiator] Wendy Sherman got out of Iran.” Schakowsky said it was “appalling” for Kirk to “equate the Obama administration’s diplomacy with Nazi appeasement.” Kirk then used her attack in a fundraising email.

That, according to veteran political journalist Greg Hinz of Crain’s Chicago Business, crosses a line. Members of the Illinois delegation do not generally raise money off each other. However, the bad blood between Schakowsky and Kirk dates back several years. Schakowsky repeatedly backed Democrat challengers to Kirk when he represented the liberal 10th district of Illinois, and considered running against him for Senate in 2010 before backing then-State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias.

Kirk faces a tough fight for his Senate seat in 2016–and this could be the first skirmish.

In addition, Schakowsky has lately been crossing a few lines of her own. She boycotted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s address to Congress last month, against the wishes of many of her constituents. She also offended Orthodox Jews with disparaging remarks at the recent conference of J Street, a far-left organization that opposes the policies of the Israeli government. (Full disclosure: I ran against Schakowsky in 2010 and her remarks were referring to our contest.)

Schakowsky joins other Democrats, notably Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, in taking umbrage at criticism of President Barack Obama’s Iran deal.

Yet the reference to Chamberlain is not new, and was first made by liberal Democrat Alan Dershowitz in the Wall Street Journal in 2010.

And as Hinz points out, Illinois Democrats have used Nazi references before.



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