Here is the National Public Radio report on yesterday’s grandstand-fest by Ted Kennedy, who had for some reason decided he needed to subpoena records that are right at the Library of Congress:

“Tempers flared briefly when Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) said he wants the committee to subpoena records held by the Library of Congress relating to the conservative Concerned Alumni of Princeton.

“Alito testified Wednesday, as he did Tuesday, that he has no specific recollection of his membership in the group, even though he mentioned it in a 1985 job application. On Wednesday, he strongly disavowed some of the group’s writings and its opposition to increasing the number of women and minority students at his undergraduate alma mater.

“Kennedy complained that Alito’s ‘explanations’ about his membership ‘don’t add up.’ But Committee Chairman Specter exploded when Kennedy said he would press for a vote on seeking the documents.”

“‘I’m chairman of this committee, and I’m not going to have you run this committee,’ Specter said.”

And here, thanks to Michelle Malkin, is the transcript of what actually happened:

“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. Senator Grassley…

“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.

“[Gavel: Wham!]”

For decades, we of the American public got only the sanitized NPR-style version of public and partisan events, including judicial confirmations. Read that NPR story again–you’ll notice how it subtly makes Alito’s supposed duplicity over his CAP membership the focus of the controversy, not Kennedy’s boorish and  bullying behavior and continued state of denial over the fact that the Democrats are no longer in charge of the Senate or the Senate Judiciary Committee. Note the words “increasing the number of women and minority students”–that’s liberal-speak for racial and gender quotas. The non-issue aspect of the necessity to subpoena the CAP documents (whose thousands of pages, by the way, were combed over last night by committee staffers, who found no mention whatsoever of Samuel Alito) was also never raised in the NPR story: the fact that you don’t have to subpoena records a) that are available to the public at America’s public library, and b) whose release was consented to by their donor, former National Review publisher William Rusher.

Yes, for decades the news was massaged and managed by the liberal media, who informed us on a top-down basis what we would hear, and, the media hoped, what we were to believe. We were supposed to believe, for example, that the liberal position was the only decent and reasonable position and that if you held conservative views–didn’t believe in affirmative action, for example–there was something wrong with you. Conservatism was turned into a crime–the crime of “being out the mainstream”–and no decent person was even supposed to associate with conservatives.We were told over and over, for example, that opposing gender quotas meant that you waging war against women. And so the media, and their allies among liberal interest groups and friendly Democratic members of Congress, held a stranglehold over public perception of judicial candidates and could help get rid of those who weren’t “in the mainstream.” It was called Borking, and 19 years ago, it worked. A brilliant scholar and jurist and a morally unimpeachable man appointed to the Supreme Court by one of America’s most popular presidents, was barred from taking his seat. There were those–there were many, in fact–who complained that the liberal elite did not represent their views, but they had no voice, except in tiny, marginalized (by the elite media again) publications such as National Review.

Now, things have changed. We have C-SPAN, we have Limbaugh, we have the Fox network, and we have bloggers. We can see and read for ourselves instantaneously what actually goes on at confirmation hearings. We can watch the spectacle of a cultivated and courteous 55-year-old man with a brilliant professional record sitting along with his family–his wife, his nice-looking daughter, and his teen-age son–as he is grilled for hour upon relentless hour by a bunch of graying and aged hippies who are obviously so poorly qualified and prepared for their job that they can’t even get out questions and they flub basic legal and parliamentary issues. Nice, decent, brave, attractive people who must subject themselves to hour upon hour of insults by those who aren’t fit to polish their shoes and who don’t seem to realize that their day is over.

And over it is. The Democratic Party, thanks only to itself, has lost the White House and both houses of Congress. There is only one institution where liberals still exercise considerable power, thanks to the dead hand of the past: the federal judiciary. And the spectacle that we are seeing on C-SPAN represents their last, desperate clutch on that power as it slips inexorably out of their grasp. I’m sorry about the Democratic Party, because I come from long line of ethnic Americans who would no sooner vote Republican than they would let their children starve. But that was before the Democrats repositioned themselves as the party of moral decadence and military weakness. At one time, Democrats and Republicans disagreed about many things, but they agreed on a common set of moral values and the need for a strong defense.

No one exemplifies this repositioning–and the sclerotic irrelevance of the Democratic position to most Americans these days–than Ted “My Dog Splash” Kennedy–whose creepy, creviced face under that head of white Camelot-era hair–brings to my mind nothing so much as the picture of Dorian Gray–without the Dorian Gray. Kennedy claims, of course, to speak for the nation’s women. Except for that one woman, Mary Jo Kopechne. Back in 1969, when the elite media managed the news, Kennedy got a free ride, so to speak, home from Chappaquiddick, and it was all somehow smoothed over in the news, the way his ignorance and incivility yesterday was smoothed over in the NPR story. Those who might complain, like Mary Jo’s parents, had nowhere to go. They were like the rest of us, left without a voice. But now, nearly 40 years later, no one’s ever heard of Camelot and no one knows about the supposed Kennedy mystique that once could erase the death of a young woman under unedifying circumstances. They look at their screens and see a red-faced, bloviating old bumbler who badly needs a haircut.

What we are seeing on the screen is an endgame, a last scramble by the desperate for seats on the Titanic lifeboats. The Volokh Conspiracy has compared the Democrat’s bullying posturing to that of Joe McCarthy, and Hugh Hewitt compares the CAP flap to Al Capone’s safe. You’d think that if the Dems would at least try to go out with a little dignity. But nooooo–here they are on Kos making fun of Martha Alito for bursting into tears when yesterday’s circus got to be a bit much.