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Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama has raised the ante in the race for the dumbest senator in the room. He’s stolen the march on such towering monuments to dimwittedness as Senators Inhofe, Corbett, DeMint, Kyle, and Chambliss.

Shelby may be a genius at scavenging earmarks and shoveling the money to lobbyist cronies; but in the substantive issues of senatorial judgment, he’s already outblundered even such perennial lummoxes as Sessions, Cornyn, Brownback, Vitter, and Bond — an appalling feat.

How did he do it? You’ll remember Shelby’s impassioned opposition to President Obama’s ultimately successful plans to rescue GM and Chrysler. You won’t remember the senator’s stated reasons because they made no sense.

His real reasons:

First, Alabama hosts a phalanx of foreign car company plants, locating there for big tax breaks and non-union labor. Shelby would just as soon keep getting lots of money from Asians and Europeans by destroying their competition and America’s manufacturing prowess.

Second, the foreign auto manufacturers would love to see the United Auto Workers fold up entirely; so in case they decide to slash wages and benefits, their workers won’t have a serious chance at collective bargaining.

Now Shelby is going for the brass ring of ignominy.

He’s the senator who put a hold on the nomination of Peter Diamond to the Federal Reserve, questioning Dr. Diamond’s competence and experience and saying that monetary policy decisions should not be made by members who are learning on the job.

Shelby didn’t have that problem when he supported George W. Bush nominee Kevin Walsh, whose prior experience consisted of working for George W. Bush. And as Ezra Klein has pointed out, no one will ever have experience working on the Federal Reserve Board before getting appointed to the Federal Reserve Board.

Peter Diamond has done groundbreaking work now used by virtually all economists – in labor policy, Social Security, and related issues. Ben Bernanke was one of his students at MIT.

And this week, Diamond was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics.

Take a bow, Senator Shelby, so that someone can clamp a dunce cap on your lowered head as nominee for least competent (or least honest) senator in the chamber.

Dunce cap? Possibly an inverted chamber pot.

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Originally posted to Horsefeathers on Tue Oct 26, 2010 at 06:05 PM PDT.

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