The United States Senate, the people of West Virginia, and the entire country lost a great leader this week, with the death of Senator Robert Byrd.
He was a legendary figure. A true son of West Virginia. Grew up in poverty. An orphan who never went to college, but earned a law degree through night courses. Played the fiddle while campaigning for political office, and went on to become the longest-serving member of Congress in history.
And, he literally grew while in office. From a segregationist and former KKK member, to a proud liberal and supporter of civil rights. From a booster of the War in Vietnam to one of the most outspoken critics of the War in Iraq.
As if on cue, right-wing talkers accused Democrats of hypocrisy for praising Robert Byrd, after having dumped on Trent Lott for his racist statements.
Nonsense. There’s a big difference between a young man who joined the Klan in 1942 – and later profusely apologized for it. And a Senate leader who says, in 2002, we’d all be better off if segregationist Strom Thurmond had been elected president.
Robert Byrd. With his friend Teddy Kennedy, another giant gone from the U.S. Senate.
That’s my parting shot for today.