It’s been obvious to anyone who follows these things that Robert Byrd, the Senator from West Virginia, has been a Senator in name only for quite some time. Now he has died, at the age of 92, the longest-serving Senator in United States history.
There was much to disagree with when it came to Byrd. He was a staunch liberal and the undisputed King of pork barrel projects for his home state. He was a former Klansman who led a filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and as recently as a few years ago made some disparaging remarks about “white niggers” during a Fox News interview, though by all accounts he had left his racist past behind him and was an early endorser of Barack Obama. The speeches that he delivered on the Senate floor in recent years were staggering in their lack of coherence and could easily be seen as an indication that he was no longer in possession of all of his faculties, yet he possessed the ego to believe that at the age of 89 he should run for Senate again. Had he lived, he would probably have run again when his term was up in 2012. Byrd had never lost an election, and politics was his life.
There was nobody who better understood the inner workings of the Senate. If there was an arcane rule or regulation that the Democrats believed they could use to their advantage, it was Byrd’s counsel they sought. Everywhere he went, Byrd carried a pocket-sized edition of the Constitution, and he would sometimes wave it in the air as he spoke before the Senate, as a reminder that the members of that chamber were beholden to the law, a fact so many of them choose to deny.
The policies and laws pushed by Robert Byrd have done much damage to this country, as he was a reliable vote for progressivism throughout his career. But he was also a man with a family and friends who are now in mourning and deserving of our prayers and best wishes. Let history take care of the political legacy. Now is the time to simply wish him Godspeed, and remember the humanity. RIP.
The Roundup: Doug Powers, guesting at Michelle Malkin’s site, discusses what comes next from West Virginia. Hot Air also chimes in. The American Spectator points out how the perception of Byrd would have been very different if he’d been a conservative and also the arcane rules of succession in West Virginia.Big Government has an obit.