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January 26, 2006
Did We Mention That He's Facing Re-Election?

Senator Robert Byrd, a man whom I've often criticized, managed to get two things right today on the Senate floor -- and in doing so, demonstrated the moral and intellectual bankruptcy of his fellow Democrats in the body as a whole and especially on the Judiciary Committee. The Political Teen has the video, and Michelle Malkin has the transcript of Byrd's remarks in supporting Samuel Alito's confirmation while scolding Democrats for their outrageous conduct during his hearing:

Regardless of any Senator's particular view of Judge Alito, I think we can all agree that there is room for improvement in the way in which the Senate and indeed the nation have undertaken the examination of this nominee.

Let me be clear. I mean no criticism of the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee or any particular member of that ccommittee. I feel compelled to address this issue. Not to point fingers. Not to scold. Not to assign blame. But only to address specific, sincere, heartfelt concerns that have been brought to my attention by the people of West Virginia in particular.

The people of West Viriginia in no uncertain terms were, frankly, appalled by the Alito hearings. I don't want to say it, but I must. They were appalled. In the reams of correspondence that I received during the Alito hearings, West Virginians--the people I represent--West Virignians who wrote to criticize the way in which the hearings were conducted used the same two words. People with no connection to one another. People of different faiths. Different views. Different opinions. [They] independently and respectively used the same two words to describe the hearings. They called them called an outrage and a disgrace.

And these were not form letters ginned up by special interest groups on either the right or the left. These were hand-written, contemplative, old-fashioned letters written on lined paper and personal stationary. They were the sort of letters that people write while watching television in the comfort of their living rooms or sitting at the kitchen table. It is especially telling that many who objected to the way in which the Alito hearings were conducted do not support Judge Alito. In fact, it is sorely apparent that many who opposed Judge Alito's nomination also opposed the seemingly made-for-TV antics that accompanied the hearings ...

He may not have meant it as a particular criticism for individual Senators, but there simply is no other way to read this. While it is true that Byrd has been one of the more moderate Senators on confirmations in general -- he voted for Roberts' confirmation -- he undoubtedly (as Michelle puts it) feels the heat of the upcoming election in an increasingly conservative West Virginia. Yet Byrd could easily have addressed that by simply voting to confirm Alito and kept his mouth shut about the hearings themselves.

Byrd deserves recognition for going the extra mile to call his party to account for their mudslinging, character assassination, and perversion of the nomination/confirmation process. It doesn't make me want to endorse him, but it shows that at least one Democrat has some semblance of ethics left ... and it's pathetic that the only Democrat to speak against this McCarthyist tactic of smearing people as bigots for political gain is the former Klansman.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at January 26, 2006 9:34 PM

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