Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) was on the Diane Rehm show yesterday, and he confirmed himself in my mind as largely a man of conscience, even though I disagree with him on a number of issues. I didn't realize how stupid Diane Rehm was, though, until I heard her questioning him repeatedly on something he'd already answered more than once, her questions assuming something he'd already stated pretty clearly to be false. It was quite a spectacle, if audio can be a spectacle.
The senator was explaining his vote regarding the FMA. He was one of three Democrats who sided with Republicans, along with Bill Nelson and Zell Miller. Diane Rehm asked him why he voted for the FMA. He said the Constitution serves two purposes, to set up our federalist system of government and to give basic civil rights. The FMA doesn't serve either purpose and thus doesn't belong in the Constitution. She proceeded to ask him why he then voted in favor of the FMA. He said he voted the way he did because he couldn't see this issue as the sort of thing to use as a political weapon. I didn't think he was really clear yet on what he meant by this, so it isn't surprising that she asked yet again why he voted for the FMA. I imagine she was thinking that the Republicans had been using it as a mere political weapon and that the Democrats were rightly voting against it, that Byrd must have meant this, and that his vote was thereby inexplicable. Well, no. His forthcoming explanation was quite clear, but it wasn't that.
He said he voted the way he did because he thought the issue was deserving of a full Senate vote. He didn't think the FMA had any business being in the Constitution, but he was voting to vote. Anyone who read the news reports of what had gone on in the Senate that day would know what he was talking about. He was voting with a group of mostly Republicans because he wanted the votes to be cast to see who was in favor and who was against. He knew full well that the Republicans didn't have enough votes, and he knew full well that the Democrats were using this tactic simply because they didn't want to go on record looking like they support gay marriage. Well, Byrd is a man of principle, and he voted to vote. This is similar to when Senator Chris Dodd (D-CT) and Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) voted against the Democratic resistance to John Ashcroft as attorney general. They knew he was qualified, that the charges of racism were ridiculous, and that the religious bigotry against his public statements of evangelicalism was just way out of hand. They voted accordingly to confirm him. I respect them very greatly for that, and Byrd's vote here was similar. He couldn't in good conscience play the Democrats' silly game.
Diane Rehm was apparently still in the same spot she was in before he explained that he voted to vote and not for the FMA, because she then immediately said once again, "But why did you vote for the FMA?" I recoiled in shock. The first two times, it was an understandable response to his non-answer, but he had now finally answered the question. So he repeated something along the lines of what he'd already said. What did she say in response? Again it was something like "But then why did you vote with the Republicans?" I knew this woman was seriously biased to the left. It's clear from most of the questions she asks of people. I figured it was a calculated bias. Now I'm wondering if maybe she's just stupid. Perhaps she's just too dimwitted to realize that her bias to the left leads her to ask harsh and difficult questions of rightward-thinking people but to ask leading questions to evoke a response promoting a more liberal agenda when she's talking to people who are more leftward-thinking. She certainly didn't seem very bright when she kept asking Senator Byrd to explain the very thing he'd already said quite clearly.
What she originally wanted him to talk about is why he opposes gay marriage, assuming that his vote for the FMA (which is an unfair way to describe his vote) must have meant that he opposes gay marriage. Well, that wasn't what his vote was for, as he made clear. After he said it a few times, she finally figured out that he voted to vote, so she needed to get him to talk about gay marriage itself, since that vote doesn't get to the issue at all. She proceeded to push for a sound bite from him, and I could sense from her leading question that she expected him to indicate that he really is in favor of gay marriage. I assume she must have expected that from his insistence that an FMA doesn't belong in the Constitution. Well, he didn't bite. He went on record saying that he strongly opposes gay marriage. He thinks marriage should be between a man and a woman only. She seemed a bit surprised. I guess she wasn't expecting that someone may actually hold the view that gay marriage is wrong but shouldn't be prohibited by the Constitution, even though I think that's even the majority view in the country (by a slim margin). That just shows how far left she is. (I'd say the same of someone to the right about how far to the right it shows the person to be.) Byrd's view is fairly mainstream, and she just couldn't fathom that someone might vote with Republicans but be opposed to the FMA, never mind that someone against gay marriage would do so.