I think that Mark Kirk was wrong to claim a military award that he didn’t get, but this seems to be an venial sin at most, and not the kind of Blumenthalian effort dedicated to actively mislead on a fundamental issue of whether a particular candidate for office served his country as he said he did. The difference between Kirk and Blumenthal is that the former misstated having received an award, but the latter lied about serving in Vietnam. There is a fundamental distinction between the two actions, and the latter one ought to be judged significantly more harshly.
What is not doubted is the fact that Kirk served his country with honor as an intelligence officer, and that his commanding officer stated that he “was proud to nominate Mark Kirk for the Rufus Taylor Award and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal for his outstanding service in Operation Allied Force. Mark was the best intelligence officer I ever worked with.” Or, as Kirk’s campaign put it, the difference between Kirk and his opponent, Alexi Giannoulias, is that “[w]hile Mark Kirk was running intelligence support for electronic attack combat missions in Operation Allied Force (Kosovo), Alexi Giannoulias was playing basketball in Greece.”