Offering frequent news and analysis from the majestic Evergreen State and beyond, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Senator Robert C. Byrd: 1917-2010

This morning, the family of Robert C. Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress in American history, announced that the Senator, third in line to the presidency, had died peacefully three hours after midnight at Inova Fairfax Hospital.

Byrd, ninety-two, had served as president pro-tempore of the U.S. Senate since Democrats officially regained control of Congress in January 2007. He will be succeeded by Daniel Inouye of Hawaii. His own office will be filled by appointment as soon as West Virginia's Democratic governor Joe Manchin chooses a successor.

Funeral and memorial arrangements are still pending.

Byrd was not a progressive, but he held progressive views on many important issues. He was steadfastly opposed to Dubya's invasion and occupation of Iraq, which he spoke out forcefully against early and often. We will remain forever grateful for his willingness to condemn that unnecessary and unwarranted entanglement when it was not easy to do so.

I could quickly turn this post into a novel by posting (in-line) all of the statements that have been released by prominent Democrats and Republicans in Byrd's honor, but I won't. Instead, I'll urge you to visit the Senator's official website and this page on the Charleston Gazette's website, which have a fairly comprehensive set of statements.

Neither of those pages have the statements released by our own senators, however. So without further ado, here's Senator Cantwell's reaction, which is exceptionally poignant and well written:
As the longest-serving Senator of our nation, Robert Byrd is and will forever be a Senate legend. His fierce work ethic, sharp mind, and unflagging patriotism allowed him to also be one of the most effective Senators in U.S. history. Senator Byrd always did what was best for his constituents who kept re-electing him and for the country he loved.

His high regard for the U.S. Constitution permeated his work and served as a constant reminder of the principles we strive to uphold daily in this great nation. He served in many positions of leadership, including Senate Majority Leader, guiding the upper chamber through numerous historic achievements that have shaped and improved our nation. Robert Byrd was a persistent defender of the Congress as a co-equal branch of government – he famously said he worked with Presidents, not under them – and we will miss him sorely in this great institution.

Robert Byrd demonstrated relentless passion and dedication for West Virginians over the five decades he served their interests. Not only was he a steadfast Senator for the state of West Virginia, he was a great colleague and friend. My thoughts and prayers are with the Byrd family.
And here is Senator Murray's statement:
It is a sad day for the United States Senate, the people of West Virginia, and the entire country as we mourn the loss of the nation’s longest serving Senator. Robert C. Byrd was a historian, a poet, and a true Master of the Senate.

Like every Senator, I have learned a great deal from Senator Byrd. From the protocols of managing legislation, to the best ways to work across the aisle to be as effective as possible in fighting for my state. Senator Byrd was gracious and warm. He believed passionately in the rules of the Senate and working together for the common good.

Senator Byrd was a gentleman. He was tough, but he treated people with respect. So many Senators have been guided by his presence, and he will be missed very much. But his work, his passion, and his spirit will never be gone from the Senate he loved so much.
We at NPI extend our condolences to the Byrd family, to the Senator's many friends and colleagues, and to the people of West Virginia. Our nation has lost a great legislator today. We take comfort in the knowledge that his legacy and his work will endure. His successor has enormous shoes to fill.


Post a Comment

<< Home