June 28, 2010

Robert Byrd, Dead.

The longest serving Senator in history has died at 92. He served 51 years. There's some good to praise in Byrd. There is something amazing about longevity in itself. Just showing up to work every day for that long shows something. He was a clear voice against the Iraq War. He brought classic old-fashion oratory to the Senate floor. He could pull off a seersucker suit, which is a rare thing these days.

But there is a lot to criticise about Byrd, not to speak ill of the dead, but to speak ill of the system from which he comes. There is no way you can be an effective Senator at age 92, and I say that as a guy who helps take care of his 93 year old grandfather. But Senate rules reward seniority, and voter love to send the same guys back to DC year after year. Byrd was a master of pork, sending project after project to a West Virgina that wouldn't rate them otherwise. All the power that comes from seniority and Byrd used it to fund the Robert Byrd Center for the Study of Coal or a airport for a town not big enough to rate a airfield. That is the sum total of his legacy. No legislation to address the problems of the nation. Just a lot of goodies of his home state.

So that is legacy of Robert Byrd.

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