Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Robert Byrd (D) Dies at 92

Robert Byrd (D) Died yesterday at the age of 92. He was the longest serving Senator in history. Long enough to have been affiliated with the KKK, have vehemently apposed integration in the military, and have filibustered the 1964 civil rights legislation. He had long since changed his mind and positions on these issue, and apparently never suffered politically for them. He served our country for over half a century, longer then anyone else ever has, and he should be commented for that service. That does not mean his past should be 'white washed' when talking about his impact and accomplishments.


"West Virginia Sen. Robert C. Byrd , the longest-serving member of the U.S. Senate, died early this morning. He was 92.
Byrd always carried a copy of the Constitution and often pulled it out in one of his fiery speeches on the Senate floor. But what set him apart from other senators was that "he could put it back in his pocket and recite it verbatim, the whole Constitution," recalled Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont.

In his 51 years in the Senate, the Democratic senator cast more than 18,600 votes -- more than any other senator to date.
Despite his successful political track record, the Senate's senior Democrat was no stranger to controversy, and was once a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Byrd said he joined the white supremacist group in 1942 because it "offered excitement." He claimed the Klan was an "effective force" in "promoting traditional American values" and "was strongly opposed to communism."
In a 1947 letter, Byrd 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."
In 1964, Byrd filibustered the landmark civil rights legislation for more than 14 hours but later said it was his biggest regret in the Senate. Decades later, he opposed the nominations of the Supreme Court's two black justices -- liberal Thurgood Marshall and conservative Clarence Thomas.

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