Senator Robert Byrd, Longest-Serving Congressman, Dead at 92

Senator Robert Byrd, the longest-serving member of Congress in history, is dead at 92

Byrd  The NYT: "Mr. Byrd served 51 years in the Senate, longer than anyone in American history, and with his six years in the House, he was the longest-serving member of Congress. He held a number of Senate offices, including majority and minority leader and president pro tem.

But the post that gave him the most satisfaction was chairman of the Appropriations Committee, with its power of the purse — a post he gave up only last year as his health declined. A New Deal Democrat, Mr. Byrd used the position in large part to battle persistent poverty in West Virginia, which he called “one of the rock bottomest of states.”


Mr. Byrd’s political life could be traced to his early involvement with the Ku Klux Klan, an association that almost thwarted his career and clouded it intermittently for years afterward.

In the early 1940s, he organized a 150-member klavern, or chapter, of the Klan in Sophia, W.Va., and was chosen its leader at a meeting. After the meeting, Joel L. Baskin, the Klan’s grand dragon for the region, suggested that Mr. Byrd use his “talents for leadership” by going into politics.

“Suddenly, lights flashed in my mind!” Mr. Byrd later wrote. “Someone important had recognized my abilities.”

Mr. Byrd insisted that his klavern had never conducted white-supremacist marches or engaged in racial violence. He said in his autobiography that he had joined the Klan because he shared its anti-Communist creed and wanted to be associated with the leading people in his part of West Virginia. He conceded, however, that he also “reflected the fears and prejudices” of the time.

In more recent weeks, Byrd in May announced he would vote "yes" on a compromise bill toward repealing "Don't Ask, Don't Tell", but only if there a was a 60-day review period added to it that would allow Congress to approve its language and intent.

Said Byrd: “This period of time will allow the Congress, along with the American people, to thoroughly review the proposed policy recommendations to ensure that these changes are consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention for our Armed Forces. With these changes, I will support the amendment expected to be offered by Senator Lieberman to the Department of Defense Authorization bill.”

In May 2008, Byrd wept openly on the Senate floor after news that his close friend and colleague, the late Senator Ted Kennedy, had suffered a seizure brought on by a malignant brain tumor.

The WaPo: "Mr. Byrd had been hospitalized last week with what was thought to be heat exhaustion, but more serious issues were discovered, aides said Sunday. No formal cause of death was given."


  1. Marcito says

    I wish all politicians could evolve as well as Senator Byrd managed to do. He was a fair & first class gentleman. What a remarkable career. Thank you, Mr. Byrd.

  2. says

    God, you people are idiots. Byrd was an unapologetic homophobe whose history as a klansman only reinforces the idea that he was prone to bigotry and hatred. He had a 20% rating from the ACLU and a 22% rating from HRC on on his civil rights voting record. Like Strom Thurmond before him, he tried to whitewash his racist past by time and again claiming to have been part of a bygone era, and that his particular klan group didn’t REALLY hate black people (yeah right). Hate is hate. Don’t try to tell me he didn’t know what the klan was all about. And just because he voted for supposed repeal of DADT doesn’t mean he was our ally. He was not. He obviously believed, correctly, that his vote would never lead to the end of DADT. His voting record on civil rights was abysmal. It is really sad and sickening to see gays fall for blatant rewriting of history.

  3. anon says

    51 years of pork didn’t exactly lift WV out of poverty either. Every other building in WV is named after Byrd, but the state itself is still weighed down by poor education, low social mobility, lack of economic dynamism and an overall social malaise.

  4. Michael @ says

    AMEN, GayLib! And may Byrd roast in Hell!

    Despite our advances, and we have had some, nothing better exemplifies, 41 years after Stonewall, how much the mainstream still considers both our rights and our humanity secondary to their own than this quote from this NY Times article, the icon of “liberal” media:

    “Mr. Byrd’s perspective on the world changed over the years.”

    Of course, they mean the world in which no gays exist, for there is no evidence Byrd died any less of a rabid homophobe than he lived, and was “in the news” for it barely a month ago [which apparently the gais mourning him ALSO forgot].

    HE WAS SOLELY TO BLAME for the fact that, even if a miracle happens and SECDEF Gates does let Obama affirm not just “repeal” but actual unequivocal open military service after the phony “study” is completed in December, another two months will have to pass before a single discharge can be stopped. [That Byrd failed to notice that he failed to put any teeth to do anything but delay in his amendment to the amendment is beside the point.]

    Yes, all the mainstream cares about is that Byrd finally got over his rabid racism which caused him to declare in 1944,

    “I shall never fight in the armed forces 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,”

    and filibuster the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

    But his last minute arm-twisting of the Senate over DADT indicates that, when it came to us, the 2010 edition of Byrd was no more “changed” than the 1993 edition:

    “Senator Byrd took a harder line than Nunn. He believed homosexuality was a sin; said he would never let his grandson, whom he adored, join a military that admitted gays; and asserted that one reason the Roman Empire fell was the acceptance of pervasive homosexual conduct in the Roman legions from Julius Caesar on down.” – Bill Clinton.

    Or the 1996 edition:

    “The drive for same-sex marriage, is, in effect, an effort to make a sneak attack on society by encoding this aberrant behavior in legal form before society itself has decided it should be legal. Let us defend the oldest institution, the institution of marriage between male and female as set forth in the Holy Bible.” – Robert Byrd.

    For us, the only thing “changed” about Robert Byrd were the sheets.

  5. Do Right says

    Robert Byrd was right! Ask questions! They did not listen and went to WAR in Iraq based on a huge lie of Weapons of Mass Destruction! The Vietnam WAR was also based on a lie. North Vietnamese never attacked our battleship Maddox in the Gulf of Tonkin and President Johnson knew it! 9-11 launched all the wars you are seeing now that are draining the life of our economy and what do Americans have to show for it? ***Don’t tax the super rich, corporations can now spend all the money they want to influence a political candadate? We are over $3.7 Trillion in the hole on war. That’s $80 billion dollars worth to every state in our union! You understand this!?
    The phony Vietnam WAR machine was finally stopped just before Nixon was ready to drop two nuclear bombs on N.Vietnam!! Two nuclear bombs!!!!! The insanity of man!!!

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