Thursday, April 19, 2007

Pat Leahy, Politician

The senior Senator from Vermont will be in the spotlight today as head of the Judiciary Committee trying to get some semblance of truth about the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys from Alberto Gonzales.

In an era when “politician” is an epithet, Leahy is a reminder of how it used to be. Anyone who can inspire his opponent to endorse him during a campaign and then drive Dick Cheney to cuss him out in the Senate deserves a closer look.

A former prosecutor, Leahy was the first Democrat elected to the Senate by Vermont since the Civil War and has been there over thirty years.

With no Presidential ambitions, he voted against invading Iraq in 2002 and has been perhaps the most vocal critic of the Bush Administration’s abuse of citizens’ privacy since then.

Republicans like to portray him as Gonzales’ Javier, Democrats as a Frank Capra hero. But Leahy, an ardent fan of the Grateful Dead and U-2, is no stereotype, just an honest politician seemingly doing his best to stay that way. There used to be more of them.

Vermont has a way of electing strong-minded people--Bernard Sanders, an independent who calls himself a Socialist but votes with the Democrats, and Howard Dean, a governor who exploded on the national scene by vocally opposing the Iraq war and then imploded by screaming on TV after the 2004 Iowa caucuses.

There must be something in the water.

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