Here is part of the action involving the senator and the committee chairman, Sen. Arlen Specter (R-PA); followed by some of the reactions produced by that immature tantrum:
(The following is courtesy of Witnit and the Washington Post.)
Background: Senator Kennedy claimed he sent a letter to Chairman Specter in his closing diatribe, prior to this exchange.
KENNEDY: Well, Mr. Chairman, if I could have your attention, I think we ought to vote on issuing a subpoena to the custodian of those CAP records.
KENNEDY: And I want to do that at an appropriate time. I'd move that the committee go into executive session for the purpose of voting on the issuancing of -- the sole purpose for issuing the subpoena of those records.
SPECTER: Well, we'll consider that, Senator Kennedy. There are many, many requests which are coming to me and many quarters. And, quite candidly, I view the request -- if it's really a matter of importance, you and I see each other all the time and you have never mentioned it to me. And I do not ascribe a great deal of weight -- we actually didn't get a letter, but...
KENNEDY: You did get a letter. Are you saying...
SPECTER: Well, now wait a minute; you don't know what I got. I'm about to...
KENNEDY: Yes I do, Senator, since I sent it.
SPECTER: Well, the sender does not necessarily know what the recipient gets, Senator Kennedy. You are not in a position to say what I receive. If you'll bear with me for one minute.
KENNEDY: But I am in a position to say what I sent to you on December 22.
SPECTER: You're in a position to tell me what you sent.
KENNEDY: I renew my request, Senator. And if I'm going to be denied, then I'd appeal the decision of the chair.
I think we are entitled to this information. It deals with the fundamental issues of equality and discrimination.
This nominee has indicated he has no objection to seeing us these issues. We've gone over the questions and we are entitled to get that kind of information. And if you're going to rule it out of order, I want to have a vote on that here on our committee.
SPECTER: Well, don't be premature, Senator Kennedy. I'm not about to make a ruling on this state of the record.
I hope you won't mind if I consider it, and I hope you won't mind if I give you the specifics that there was no letter which I received.
I take umbrage at your telling me what I received. I don't mind your telling me what you mailed. But there's a big difference between what's mailed and what's received. And you know that.
We're going to move on now.
Sen. Specter appears to be irritated. But, let's continue, shall we?
KENNEDY: Mr. Chairman, I'd appeal the ruling of the chair on this.
SPECTER: There has been no ruling of the chair, Senator Kennedy.
KENNEDY: Well what is the -- my request is that we go into the executive session for the sole purpose of voting on a subpoena for these records that are held over at the Library of Congress --that purpose and that purpose only.
And if I'm going to be denied that, I'd want to give notice to the chair that you're going to hear it again and again and again and we're going to have votes of this committee again and again and again until we have a resolution.
I think it's...
SPECTER: Well, Senator Kennedy, I'm not concerned about your threats to have votes again, again and again. And I'm the chairman of this committee and I have heard your request and I will consider it. And I'm not going to have you run this committee and decide when we're going to go into executive session.
We are in the middle of a round of hearings. This is the first time you have personally called it to my attention, and this is the first time that I have focused on it. And I will consider in due course.
Now we'll move to Senator Grassley for 20 minutes.
Now he has moved from irritation to full-fledged pissed off.
One word, desperation.
And now for the reactions:
Here is a piece entitled, Senate’s Liberal Lion Defanged, by Tom Bevan (Co-founder and Executive Editor of Real Clear Politics). Tom seems to have a good grasp on the situation in this excerpt:
Since 1969, when his presidential hopes drowned alongside Mary Jo Kopechne, it has always been a pathetic peculiarity of modern American politics to watch Senator Kennedy indignantly lecture others about ethics and morality – especially on the occasions when he has simultaneously engaged in distorting records and smearing reputations.
This is the point in time where Teddy's bitterness and overall unhappiness with life began.
Here is a commentary entitled, Shooting Blanks at Alito from Robert Novak.
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Edward M. Kennedy, the 73-year-old liberal lion of the Senate, did not so much roar as huff and puff Tuesday, as he faced Judge Samuel Alito. He and other Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who had spent weeks preparing for Alito's Supreme Court confirmation hearing seemed to be shooting blanks at President Bush's nominee.
In other words, he has lost his edge. Maybe this means it's high time the senior senator from Massachusetts retired?
Here is an another reaction, entitled Judging the Judge's Judges by Debra Saunders.
While Kennedy seems to consider himself a champion for the little guy, he is a walking tribute to a system that, in its low moments, allows the rich and powerful to get away with crimes that would put others behind bars. He is a discredit to the system.
Here the NY Post weighs in: Shame Of The Senate.
And finally, from Town Hall comes a piece entitled, Liberal Former Alito Clerk: Don't "F" Alito written by a former Alito law clerk, Susan Sullivan, who happens to be a liberal.
I was one of Judge Alito's law clerks from 1990-1991, the year the Casey decision was decided. I consider myself a social progressive. I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU and a liberal pro-choice advocate who supports abortion rights. I favor gun control, support gay marriage and oppose the death penalty. I also don't have a problem if you want to take "God" out of the Pledge of Allegiance. In short, no one is likely to mistake me for a conservative any time soon. Yet, I support the nomination of Judge Alito, because I know from having worked closely with him, that he is not a political ideologue and is not intent on advancing a conservative political agenda.
Here you have someone that pretty much agrees with most (if not all) of the stances of Kennedy (and the others that have acted like fools in this hearing), singing the judge's praises.