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Tuesday, January 10, 2006

KENNEDY'S DEMISE: As a matter of simple senatorial etiquette, Arlen Spector should have warned those of his colleagues who suffer allergies to be aware of the dust that would fly from the pages of Kennedy's prepared speech, the same pages he has shuffled during Supreme Court confirmation hearings going back at least to Bork. Most orators actually improve when they give the same speech repeatedly over time, but in Kennedy's case it's the opposite. He stumbles over the most simple words and clauses, even referring to Sam Alito as Alioto. Joe Alioto was a famous San Francisco mayor in the 1960s, the period when Ted Kennedy's political views took shape, the heyday of the civil rights and women's liberation movements. Increasingly it's clear Kennedy's thinking is still mired in that era, given his argument that any judicial ruling that goes against a discrimination claim by any woman or any person of color necessarily equates with culpable discrimination. Sidebar: A friend recently wondered aloud what course Robert F. Kennedy's career might have taken but for the bullets that ended his life. "Who would Bobby have become?" No less interesting: Who would Ted have become? If he had had his older brother's respect to consider, would Ted Kennedy have degenerated into the staggering, stuttering, leering buffoon that today makes him indistinguishable from a political cartoon?