While moderate Republicans have largely gone the way of such other mid-20th century phenomena as sock hops, poodle skirts, and drive-in theaters, there's a case to be made that Illinois Sen. Mark Kirk is one of the few remaining in a prominent public office. He's pro-choice, supports marriage equality, favors gun control, and backs immigration reform, stances that would prove anathema in a national GOP primary but helped him narrowly win statewide office in a generally blue state.
At the same time, Kirk isn't above going full wingnut. Once a supporter of action to combat climate change, Kirk has since cast doubt on climate science and even cited Al Gore's marital troubles in explaining his flip-flop. On foreign policy, meanwhile, Kirk is about as neoconservative as they come. An unapologetic supporter of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Kirk, along with the recently-indicted Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), has now taken the lead in trying to scuttle U.S. diplomatic efforts on Iran's nuclear program.
On Thursday, international negotiators announced the framework of an agreement that would gradually ease sanctions on Iran in exchange for reduced enrichment activity and international inspections of the country's nuclear facilities. Kirk, you might guess, was none too pleased.
He wasn't the first -- right-wingers on Twitter beat him to the punch -- but Kirk wasted little time in wielding a Nazi analogy to blast the agreement. “Neville Chamberlain got a better deal from Adolf Hitler,” Kirk told Roll Call, referring to the British prime minister and champion of appeasement who hailed "peace in our time" after the Munich Agreement ceded the Sudetenland to Hitler's regime.
“Under today’s deal," Kirk continued, "the United States and its international partners will dismantle the sanctions regime against Iran, while Iran, the world’s biggest exporter of terrorism, will be allowed to keep vast capabilities to make nuclear weapons.”
Of course, the international community can still reimpose sanctions on Iran if it reneges on any elements of the deal, a prospect that provides a powerful disincentive for Iranian misbehavior. But "Hitler."
Kirk ranks among the most vulnerable Republican senators up for re-election next year. This week, Rep. Tammy Duckworth announced that she would challenge the incumbent, giving Democrats a top-tier recruit for the race.