- The Washington Times - Monday, May 23, 2005

Only in this town of lawyers along the Potomac can politicians utter statements that were, according to official history, never spoken.

When writing the Constitution, the Founding Fathers mandated the recording of Congress’ proceedings, but its form was left to the lawmakers who established the Congressional Record and the rules that allow them to clean up regretful remarks, miscues and misstatements before they are published.

One day last week, Sen. Barbara Boxer, California Democrat, spoke about one of President Bush’s filibustered nominees and said the nominee probably would think something was “God awful.”

But when the Congressional Record came out the next day, the official transcript omitted the potentially offensive reference to the Almighty and read simply: “She probably thinks it is awful.”

A spokesman for Mrs. Boxer said no one in their office asked for the omission.

“It happens all the time,” he said. “Maybe it was a stenographic error.”

Sometimes, the record is revised over factual misstatements.

Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, took to the floor last week to say that a number of his Democratic colleagues currently opposed to the ?nuclear option? have in the past recognized the legitimacy of the procedure.

In particular, he noted “the senior senator from Massachusetts and the junior senator from New York,” a reference to Democratic Sens. Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts and Charles E. Schumer of New York.

But when the record is printed, it will describe Mr. Schumer as the “senior” senator — a very important detail, especially if your fellow senator is party superstar Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton.

And, altering the historic record of Senate proceedings is not always about “scrubbing” your own remarks.

After Majority Leader Bill Frist, Tennessee Republican, accused Democrats of wanting to “assassinate” Mr. Bush’s nominees, Minority Whip Richard J. Durbin, Illinois Democrat, went to the floor and advised Mr. Frist to remove the statement from the record.

A spokesman for Mr. Frist said such a redaction was unnecessary because “obviously he was talking about character assassination.”

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