Feb 18 2007

Shelby remark shows 'pulse' of constituents

Montgomery Advertiser

By Jamie Kizzire

Two political scientists said it shouldn't be too much of a surprise that U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby gave a speech in Montgomery this week where he said "horrible mistakes" have been made in Iraq.

The Republican senator even pointed out the Bush administration failed to heed a general's advice on the number of troops needed at the outset of the war.

Shelby has a knack for keeping the "pulse of public opinion" in the state, according to Bradley Moody, a political science professor at Auburn Montgomery.

"He's very good at reflecting these changes in public opinion," he said.

That was evident in Shelby balancing his criticisms with a promise not to support any resolutions that might be seen as undercutting troop support, Moody said.

Shelby has demonstrated an independent streak when it comes to discussing foreign and military policy, said William Stewart, professor emeritus of political science at the University of Alabama.

"He's not going to go in lockstep with anybody," Stewart said. "He's always felt free to criticize the administration in power whether it be his own or the Democratic Party."