Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia, the longest-serving senator in American history, died Monday at the age of 92, a spokesman for the family said.
Byrd, a Democrat who served in the U.S. Senate since 1959, had been plagued by health problems in recent years and was confined to a wheelchair. He had skipped several votes in Congress in the past months.
Jesse Jacobs, a family spokesman, said Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va.
So ends the life of Robert C. Byrd.
As Ted Kennedy was a symbol of the moral rot within the modern Democratic Party, the career of Robert Byrd is a manifestation of a distinctly American type of political corrosion. Much is made of the fact that Byrd was the longest serving member of the Senate in US history. Why is that such a magnificent accomplishment? It only means he was able to win a bunch of popularity contests over the years. If Darth Vader gave away $3.3 billlion in other people's money to West Virginia, he'd be awfully popular with the voters as well.
You know who else polls really well, year after year, without fail? Santa Claus. Why? Because he gives away free toys and all you have to do is behave yourself and you get a first class ticket on the Christmas gravy train. Unlike jolly ol' Saint Nick, Robert Byrd's pork masquerading as generosity came directly from the US taxpayers. It's quite easy to be Mister Awesomely Popular when there is never some federally subsidized boondoggle you'll say no to.
It would've taken real leadership for Senator Byrd to tell his constituents that they can't have their cake (paid for by the other 49 states) and eat it too. He probably wouldn't have every left-wing douche fighting to fellate him for the last 50 years. He might've lost an election and go back into private life. Perhaps he would not have been able to create a Senatorial fiefdom based on ring-kissing patronage and barely concealed graft. Then again, he might instead be remembered as a responsible steward of taxpayer money. It's not nearly as sexy as 'longest sitting Senator evah', but it would be a far more respectable legacy.
Let us not forget the overarching American concern over racism and Robert Byrd's role in the evolution of racial policies in the nation. The Senator was a former member of the KKK, but continued to kiss their asses for years after he supposedly left the group.
The ex-Klansman allegedly ended his ties with the group in 1943. He may have stopped paying dues, but he continued to pay homage to the KKK. Republicans in West Virginia discovered a letter Sen. Byrd had written to the Imperial Wizard of the KKK three years after he says he abandoned the group. He wrote: "The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia" and "in every state in the Union."
...The ex-Klansman vowed never to fight "with a Negro by my side. Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds."
Although he later denounced the Ku Klux Klan, his renunciation didn't stop him from fillibustering the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He also had a habit of opposing black Supreme Court nominations; both Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas got the thumbs down from Senator Byrd, which makes his opposition to them seem less about ideological differences and more about personal animus towards African-Americans. Only in the soft-bigoted topsy-turvy bizarro world of the American progressive movement can a man with that kind of record of blatant racism rise to become the 'conscience of the Senate'. The fact that such a rancorous bigot could soar to the heights of political grandeur is a testament the 'power for power's sake' mentality within the contemporary Left.
There will always be racists. There will forever be pockets of bigotry in America. People are born flawed and unfortunately racism is one of mankind's unwashable sins. Hatemongers will be with us in one form or another till the end of time. But we don't have to elevate racist dickbags like Senator Byrd to the pinnacle of American political life.
Having said all that, surely Byrd's family is mourning the loss of a towering figure in their lives. It is said that the Senator was a devoted family man and a born again Christian. These things do not erase his public legacy. But they are yet another sign that people are complicated creatures, capable of magnanimity, generosity and love or cruelty, selfishness and hate.
It should also be noted that the Senator was ailing for quite some time. It is hoped that with his passing from this world, Mr. Byrd finds the comfort and grace of his Creator.
Rest In Peace.
AWESOME UPDATE: If you are not charitably inclined towards Senator Byrd...and I cannot say I blame you...take a spin over to Feed Your ADHD. Snarky Basterd's byline? Hell.
Satan, [Ted] Kennedy’s rival for control of Hell, welcomed Byrd to his kingdom of filth.
“It is with great honor that I bestow the title of KKK Grand Dragon on Senator Byrd,” Satan said. “Only a true Democrat – and we’re all Democrats down here in Hell – could have uttered the great statements he has made over the years.”
Check that stuff out, yo.
ANOTHER AWESOME UPDATE: Nick Gillespie has a nice cold showerfor the Byrd-o-philes. Oooof.
But it's Byrd's status as the Babe Ruth of pork-barrel spending and taxpayer-funded narcissism that is his real legacy and the one we should never forget or forgive. Here lies a man who pushed his home state to build a statue of him in defiance of a rule that such honorees be dead for 50 years.
Back in 2006, Citizens Against Government Waste called Byrd the "Emperor Palpatine of Pork" and gave him their lifetime achievement award...
STILL ANOTHER AWESOME UPDATE: Ed Driscoll has a sweet take down.
President Obama’s potential words of praise to a racial demagogue far worse than even Rev. Wright himself should be especially interesting to watch.
UPDATE (baldilocks): Byrd refused to serve in World War Two due to blacks being a part of the force, even in their lowly status before the desegregation of the US Armed Forces in 1948. I cited that here using Wiki, but the reference has been cleaned up.
If, by some chance Byrd got to go to Heaven, I hope he gets to be Dorie Miller's