Sen. Robert Byrd dead at 92

Sen. Robert Byrd (Reuters)

Robert Byrd, 92, the longest serving Senator in American history, died this morning in a Washington area hospital.

The West Virginia lawmaker was admitted last week for heat exhaustion and dehydration but his condition was far more serious.

“However, upon further examination by his doctors, other conditions have developed which has resulted in his condition being described as ‘serious,’” spokesman Jesse Jacobs said in a statement.

Byrd was first elected to the House of Representatives in 1952 and served six years there before moving to the Senate.

Until last year, the often-ailing senator was the top Democrat on the powerful Appropriations Committee. He has also served as the Senate’s Democratic leader and held other key positions.

Byrd was an early and outspoken opponent of the Iraq war that began in 2003 and also warned against a buildup of U.S. troops in Afghanistan.

A former member of the Ku Klux Klan white supremacist group, Byrd later became a champion of civil rights. He has also been a staunch supporter of his home state’s coal industry and more recently has spoken out about environmental and safety issues.

The senator’s health has been failing for years, often forcing him to use a wheelchair. He was hospitalized last September after falling.

Byrd’s illness could hurt Democrats’ chances of getting the needed 60 votes in the 100-member Senate to clear a Republican procedural roadblock against the new financial regulation bill crafted last week by House and Senate negotiators.

Democrats voiced confidence last week that the Senate would pass the measure, but it was not immediately clear if they could do so without Byrd.

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8 Responses to "Sen. Robert Byrd dead at 92"

  1. Jim0001  June 28, 2010 at 10:38 am

    West Virginia is going to miss all the “Byrd droppings” they got from the “king of pork”.
    I guess they won’t be able to finish paving the entire State.

    • sherry  June 28, 2010 at 11:37 am

      Clearly, anything resembling respect is beneath you. Why don’t you read the post below regarding his speech on the Iraq War.
      He was probably the only Senator who upheld the constitution in all matters.
      Unfortunately, you reduced to your post to human waste.

      • jim0001  June 29, 2010 at 12:48 pm

        Sherry, I am not sure what I am supposed to be respecting.
        His long tenure, milking the taxpayers, his roll as the king of pork or his klan connections.
        I do respect the fact that he could quote the Constitution even though his voting was many times contrary to it. He voted party not the Constitution.
        Ron Paul can quote and believes in the Constitution also.

        • griff  June 29, 2010 at 5:46 pm

          I got the same kind of shit when I “disrespected” Ted Kennedy and Walter Cronkite when they passed.

  2. woody188  June 28, 2010 at 10:41 am

    Today, I Weep for my Country…
    by US Senator Robert Byrd
    Speech delivered on the floor of the US Senate
    March 19, 2003 3:45pm

    I believe in this beautiful country. I have studied its roots and gloried in the wisdom of its magnificent Constitution. I have marveled at the wisdom of its founders and framers. Generation after generation of Americans has understood the lofty ideals that underlie our great Republic. I have been inspired by the story of their sacrifice and their strength.

    But, today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart. No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned.

    Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination. Instead of isolating Saddam Hussein, we seem to have isolated ourselves. We proclaim a new doctrine of preemption which is understood by few and feared by many. We say that the United States has the right to turn its firepower on any corner of the globe which might be suspect in the war on terrorism. We assert that right without the sanction of any international body. As a result, the world has become a much more dangerous place.

    We flaunt our superpower status with arrogance. We treat UN Security Council members like ingrates who offend our princely dignity by lifting their heads from the carpet. Valuable alliances are split.

    After war has ended, the United States will have to rebuild much more than the country of Iraq. We will have to rebuild America’s image around the globe.

    The case this Administration tries to make to justify its fixation with war is tainted by charges of falsified documents and circumstantial evidence. We cannot convince the world of the necessity of this war for one simple reason. This is a war of choice.

    There is no credible information to connect Saddam Hussein to 9/11. The twin towers fell because a world-wide terrorist group, Al Qaeda, with cells in over 60 nations, struck at our wealth and our influence by turning our own planes into missiles, one of which would likely have slammed into the dome of this beautiful Capitol except for the brave sacrifice of the passengers on board.

    The brutality seen on September 11th and in other terrorist attacks we have witnessed around the globe are the violent and desperate efforts by extremists to stop the daily encroachment of western values upon their cultures. That is what we fight. It is a force not confined to borders. It is a shadowy entity with many faces, many names, and many addresses.

    But, this Administration has directed all of the anger, fear, and grief which emerged from the ashes of the twin towers and the twisted metal of the Pentagon towards a tangible villain, one we can see and hate and attack. And villain he is. But, he is the wrong villain. And this is the wrong war. If we attack Saddam Hussein, we will probably drive him from power. But, the zeal of our friends to assist our global war on terrorism may have already taken flight.

    The general unease surrounding this war is not just due to “orange alert.” There is a pervasive sense of rush and risk and too many questions unanswered. How long will we be in Iraq? What will be the cost? What is the ultimate mission? How great is the danger at home?

    A pall has fallen over the Senate Chamber. We avoid our solemn duty to debate the one topic on the minds of all Americans, even while scores of thousands of our sons and daughters faithfully do their duty in Iraq.

    What is happening to this country? When did we become a nation which ignores and berates our friends? When did we decide to risk undermining international order by adopting a radical and doctrinaire approach to using our awesome military might? How can we abandon diplomatic efforts when the turmoil in the world cries out for diplomacy?

    Why can this President not seem to see that America’s true power lies not in its will to intimidate, but in its ability to inspire?

    War appears inevitable. But, I continue to hope that the cloud will lift. Perhaps Saddam will yet turn tail and run. Perhaps reason will somehow still prevail. I along with millions of Americans will pray for the safety of our troops, for the innocent civilians in Iraq, and for the security of our homeland. May God continue to bless the United States of America in the troubled days ahead, and may we somehow recapture the vision which for the present eludes us.

    Rest in peace Senator Byrd.

    • Carl Nemo  June 28, 2010 at 11:56 am

      Thanks Woody188 for providing Senator Byrd’s seemingly patriotic thoughts on America’s plight, but my question is why did he vote for the Patriot Act? Only one Senator didn’t; ie., Senator Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. Senator Byrd if anyone knew the ramifications of this rights destroying act, but he voted for it just the same. Seemingly he was one uv’em; ie., those in high places who are working relentlessly to diminish this nation to that of a bankrupt “banana republic”

      One thing we do know about Senator Byrd is he shor luv’d those tasty pulled pork sandwiches provided by the U.S. Treasury ‘deli’… / : |

      I thought I’d provide some thoughts from a true patriot and a man that believes in supporting the Constitutional principles this nation was founded upon.

      http://www.archipelago.org/vol6-2/feingold.htm

      RIP Senator Byrd… : |

      Carl Nemo **==

      • woody188  June 28, 2010 at 1:12 pm

        I assume he was scared and was told it would be the only right thing to do to protect the nation like they all were. He seems to have voted no to the re-authorization of the PATRIOT Act.

        Or he could just make a good speech and vote against us, ala Obama. This was just one of my favorite Byrd speeches and one of the only voices of reason during the time before the fighting in Iraq began. I watched this live and nearly cried as most of the chamber was empty at the time he gave this speech.

  3. Harry Lord  July 3, 2010 at 8:47 pm

    Sad to see him go, this mean old world will never be the same without him.
    Mark Twain said the only truly criminal class in America is in the Congress, that was true then, until he arrived with some needed integrity. Without his leadership, the Constitution will return to “Just a Piece of Paper” RIP One Love, Peace Out!

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