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Public hearing on appointing immediate interim successor to Ted Kennedy: Huge Democrat dog & pony show, afternoon of hypocrisy

Posted: Sept. 10, 2009

On Wednesday afternoon, Sept. 9, Gardner Auditorium in the Massachusetts State House was filled to capacity as the Joint Committee on Election Laws heard testimony on Bill H656 [see text here] which would give the Governor of Massachusetts the ability to quickly appoint an interim successor to Ted Kennedy to serve in the US Senate, until a replacement is elected, overturning a law passed in 2004 by the Democrat-dominated Legislature (see explanation below).

        It was a full house in Gardner Auditorium.

It was basically 5 1/2 hours of left-wing blathering. Every liberal special-interest group and labor union seemed to be there. Although the mantra was "we need two voices" the underlying theme that kept coming out was: "anything to get nationalized health care." As one media person put it, "It was the Democratic Party dog and pony show to continue the Kennedy mandate on that issue."

Although there was a fair number of voices against the idea, including some Republican legislators, you could tell that most of the of people who could take time off on a Wednesday afternoon to spend hours in a hot State House auditorium seemed to be left-wing activists.

(Ironically, Scott Brown was on the Election Committee at that time and was present that day hearing testimony! See photo below.)

Two-hour filibuster by Kerry and Delahunt

Almost the entire first two hours were taken up by the first two speakers, US Sen. John Kerry and US Rep. William Delahunt. They spoke and answered questions from the Committee. Their long-winded talk seemed like a filibuster in the hot auditorium.

On and on.  US Senator John Kerry addresses the committee while US Rep. William Delahunt looks on.

Kerry's major points were that we desperately "need" two voices in the US Senate. He pointed out that there are a lot of tie votes (in which case the Vice President votes to break the tie) and that every vote is necessary. And that we need "two voices" at all times speaking for the needs of Massachusetts citizens.

Interestingly, over the last year Ted Kennedy missed over 90% of the votes and was absent from the US Senate almost the entire time, because of his illness. There were no calls for his resignation then for "two voices and two votes."

But Committee member Rep. Paul Frost (R-Auburn) kept asking everyone, "Where was this concern in 2004?" They basically kept dodging the question. The hypocrisy was very evident.

And of course there was lots and lots of talk about Kennedy's great liberal legacy, and that this was his last request, and we can't let him down, blah blah blah.

See what they said! Just in case the audience wasn't listening to Kerry's and Delahunt's speeches, there was a screen off to the side that displayed their words seconds after they said them.

Kerry also said that Kennedy's vacancy and the closing of his office leaves a huge backlog of "constituent services" that Kerry's office will need to take on, in addition to what he already has, which he said includes "a thousand calls a day". Again the question remains, why didn't they bring this up in 2004? And how could a brief interim appointee deal with such a backlog effectively?

Delahunt: Republican can't represent Massachusetts in US Senate

Delahunt repeated most of what Kerry said. But his main point for changing the law back seemed an exercise in absolute audacity. He said that in 2004 the law needed to be changed because there was a Republican Governor at that time. If there was a vacancy in the US Senate, we could not allow the Governor to appoint a Republican to fill it because it's the "will of the Massachusetts people" to have Democrats representing us, and Romney would contradict that. Delahunt really meant it.

Of course, that argument is patently absurd. Mitt Romney was elected by the people, statewide, as a Republican. Part of the Governor's duties were always to appoint a Senator if there were a vacancy. Nevertheless, Delahunt was not phased by this. And how does he "know" how people would vote, given the outrage over Congress's actions this year?

(Of course, Delahunt has publicly praised Castro and his government. So the bar's pretty low for a politician like him.)

Interestingly, a lot of time was spent by Kerry and Delahunt telling the Committee that they would do everything in their power to see that the appointee would just be a placeholder, and would not able to run for the Senate seat in the upcoming election. They were adamant about "guaranteeing" that. However, that seems very shaky from a legal and constitutional standpoint, and most people appeared to realize that.

Although the "no" side was certainly represented in the rest of the day's testimony, it was basically a push by liberal activists and unions on the health care issue. Some of them even came from other states to testify.

Waiting his turn. Rep. Vinnie DeMacedo (R-Plymouth), on right, voted "no" in 2004. He waited patiently for his turn to tell them why he was voting "no" again.

Background of issue

In 2004 US Sen. John Kerry was running for President and Republican Mitt Romney was Governor.  If Kerry won and his Senate seat thus became vacant, by law Romney would appoint someone to fill the seat until the next general election.

So Ted Kennedy asked the Massachusetts Legislature to change that law. The Legislature complied, and changed the law to have an election instead, within several months. Republicans offered an amendment to allow an appointment until the election, but that was turned down by the Democrats.  It was all done for strictly political reasons: The Democrats didn't want any Republican in the US Senate to replace Kerry.

Click HERE: Current Mass. legislators
who voted to change the law in 2004

Now that there's a Democrat Governor, and a sudden vacancy because of Ted Kennedy's death, the same legislators change the law again to allow the Governor to appoint an interim US Senator until the election which takes place Jan. 19 -- over four months away. That's because the Democrats in the US Senate are now 1 vote short of a 60-vote filibuster-proof majority to push Obama's health care initiative through, which is coming up right away. That's what this really is all about, and very few people deny it.

Regular citizens not on board, it appears

Despite the one-sided turnout at the hearing, the hypocrisy and sleazy nature of the proposal seems upsetting the general public, even Democrats. State reps we've talked to say their calls are running against it. State Senator Jack Hart (D-South Boston) told that Boston Globe that the constituents in his heavily Democrat district are "overwhelmingly skeptical" about the "political chicanery" of it. Even the poll by the leftish WBZ-Radio showed a lopsided "no" to it. And callers to local talk shows are overwhelmingly opposed.

But the Democrat Party and the special interests are continuing their full court press on the Legislature. Today, the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation formally urged the bill's passage.

The normally boring Joint Committee on Election Laws probably hasn't had this much excitement in years. (NOTE: Scott Brown is 5th from right on panel.)

Committee decision expected next week

The Committee will probably decide next week what to do - kill the idea or send it to the full Legislature for a vote. It will be interesting to see who they listen to.

It's been widely reported that the Mass. House and Senate leadership are not excited about a nasty fight like this coming to the floor, especially when none of them has anything to gain from it.

The auditorium was filled with a LOT of these.

Probably not GOP activists . . .

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