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Silence Is Golden, Mr. Dornan

Even congressional friends can't defend this grating act

September 23, 1997

It's a sign of how thin his act has worn that 111 of Robert K. Dornan's fellow Republicans joined the vote last week to banish the defeated congressman from the floor of the House, where for 18 years he was known for colorful and too often intemperate oratory.

The temporary suspension of Dornan's privilege to appear on the floor was warranted. His claims that Rep. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) was a liar and a coward and lacked religious commitment were outrageous. The remarks, made during an exchange between the two on the House floor, were related to Dornan's full-time effort to recapture the House seat he lost last November.

Dornan claims that he would have defeated Rep. Loretta Sanchez (D-Garden Grove) last year except for ballots cast by illegal voters, mostly noncitizens. So far, he has failed to prove his case.

The House Oversight Committee, which has conducted its own investigation of Dornan's 984-vote loss, may finally come up with its overdue recommendation this week on whether to call for a new election. Even if the committee does recommend new balloting, the full House could decide to let the election stand. There has been no evidence yet that Sanchez benefited from fraudulent votes, and the next regularly scheduled election is only 14 months away.

Last week's diatribe against Menendez was a reminder of how easily Dornan goes over the top and how tiresome his tirades can be--in or out of office.

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