Friday, November 21, 2008; A03
There, for a final time at his Senate desk, stood Ted Stevens: longest-serving Republican senator in U.S. history, shepherd of Alaska statehood, convicted felon.
"I don't have any rearview mirror," the diminutive -- and much diminished -- figure told colleagues yesterday in his farewell address. "I look only forward. And I still see the day when I can remove the cloud that currently surrounds me."
In hours of tributes on the Senate floor, the exact nature of that cloud was never described: the penny-ante corruption, the gifts and free home renovations that brought the career of this legislative legend to an ignominious end. After his conviction last month, Stevens's electoral defeat became official on Tuesday, his 85th birthday.
By the time he finished, even a few of the Democratic lawmakers and staffers were dabbing their eyes.
Few will shed tears for the irritable Stevens himself. Nor are they likely to lament the end of his politics of greedily funneling federal money to his home state. But the scene had poignancy for another reason: As the old men on both sides of the aisle rose to bid adieu to Stevens, they seemed also to be saying farewell to their era, a time when the Senate was, for better or worse, a gentlemen's club.
Read more. (emphasis added)