Every now and then Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) does something that really impresses me. When I disagree with him, it's usually quite strongly (e.g. his insane claim that preemptive war never happened before G.W. Bush and that just war theory could never countenance preemptive self-defense). Yet he has these moments when I really wish he were representing me instead of the two senators from NY who rarely say or do anything I agree with. Senator Byrd's statement in defense of Judge Alito's confirmation is one of the best I've seen so far.
He takes the Republicans on the judiciary committee to task for grinning and not asking any questions (which I have to say, in their defense, was only the case after the first round; most of them asked hard questions the first time around and only proceeded to rebut their colleagues' arguments after they had exhausted their serious questions). He takes the Democrats on the judiciary committee to task for making the confirmation of a judge an issue of partisan politics rather than relying on the judge's qualifications and character, though he acknowledges that those go back to President Washington's nomination of John Rutledge. By implication, he takes a strong departure from some Democrats on this issue who were challenging exactly his character in a way that Byrd clearly sees as illegitimate, because he concludes with praise for Alito as an honorable man.