Saturday, July 03, 2010

Why all the liberal love for Robert Byrd?

All the big shots in the Democratic Party trooped out to West Virginia for Robert Byrd's memorial service. Obama, Biden, Pelosi, Bill Clinton were all there. What did Byrd have going for him besides his longevity? Otherwise, is there some admirable part of his career that represents all that is great in America as those eulogies would have you believe?

Jonah Goldberg has a good column asking about this.
Not long ago, the assembled forces of liberalism were convinced that the Senate was “broken,” that the anachronistic filibuster impeded progress. The Senate itself, with its arcane rules and procedures, had become undemocratic and was in need of vital reform, according to all of the usual voices. John Podesta, president of the Center for American Progress and a sort of archbishop of liberalism these days, drew on his deep command of political theory and social science to explain that the American political system “sucks,” in significant part due to the unwieldiness of the Senate.

Well, who better represented those alleged structural problems than Byrd? Nearly every obituary celebrates his “mastery” of the rules. This is from the first paragraph of the Washington Post’s obituary: Byrd “used his masterful knowledge of the institution to shape the federal budget, protect the procedural rules of the Senate and, above all else, tend to the interests of his state.”

Yes, what about his tending to his state’s interests? For several years there’s been a lot of bipartisan indignation over the perfidy of pork and “earmarks.”

Who, pray tell, better represented that practice than Byrd? The man emptied Washington of money and resources with an alacrity and determination not seen since the evacuation of Dunkirk. There are too many of these Byrd droppings in West Virginia to count, but we do know there are at least 30 buildings and other structures in that state named for him. So much for Democrats’ getting the message that Americans are sick of self-aggrandizing politicians.
Think about all those democrats who have been moaning about how our system is broken and we can't get anything done in Congress any more. Well, that is mostly all about the filibuster. So when they're celebrating Byrd as the guardian of the prerogatives of the Senate, that's a big part of what they're celebrating - the very institutions that have liberals like Thomas Friedman wishing we could be more like China.

And then, of course, the liberals are all giving him a pass for his history with the KKK. And they're just gliding over his filibuster of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, the brightest star in the civil rights firmament. He is second only to Strom Thurmond in filibuster records. Did Strom Thurmond get half the love and admiration for his career that Byrd's death has sparked?

Other than his mastery fo the Senate rules and his manipulation of his role on the Appropriations Committee back to West Virginia, what else was there about the guy to evoke such admiration?


mark said...

What's to admire about Byrd? He was one of the few to not cave to Bush's "You're with me or you're with the terrorists" disgrace on the war on terror. Byrd was eloquent while speaking out, and more importantly 100% on the invading Iraq. Bush appealed to our worst qualities, and repubs and too many dems cowered. Byrd didn't.

tfhr said...

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."

~Sen. Robert Byrd, 03 OCT 2002
[ ]

Of course that all changes when the war you're fighting turns out to be for control of the White House. Look, mark, Bill Clinton said that Robert Byrd was a member of the Klan because it was, in his mind, necessary to get and stay elected to office. Why should we doubt that he would attack a sitting President in time of war for a perceived, though wildly wrong attempt to secure a political advantage?

No, mark, Robert Byrd was as vile a political opportunist as he was a racist, right up until the day he died.

As for the "with me v. against me" quote you've manufactured, George Bush said, "Either you are with us, or you are with the terrorists." He said it on 20 September 2001. The World Trade Center and the Pentagon were still smoking. It wasn't until sometime later that people like you, mark, decided to make it about personal politics, more aptly, partisan politics and found it desireable to substitute "me" for the United States. Apparently when you think of that speech you imagine Bush speaking only for himself, rather than the country. How very Democrat of you.

Do you really think it is possible to sit out this war on the sidelines? Maybe you think it is an option to be "neutral" or stake out a political middle ground. Whatever false sense of security makes you feel that this war can be compartmentalized or "managed", should have evaporated nine days before Bush spoke before the Congress.

Here's more from the Bush speech:

"The terrorists' directive commands them to kill Christians and Jews, to kill all Americans, and make no distinction among military and civilians, including women and children".

We're all targets to al Qaeda. Just because you want to oust one American political leader in favor of another doesn't make you any less the "infidel" that you are to Jihadists, mark. Being their enemy's "enemy", doesn't help you because they would gladly kill you too. The notion that we can afford to select one graduated stance or another on this war is sure folly because it creates divisions that our enemies are only too happy to exploit.

Byrd wasn't brave - he was just the type of politician low enough to willingly stoke racial animosity and foster partisan divisiveness during a time of war. If you think that's good for the country then, well, I guess you do because you're a Progressive.

tfhr said...


Whoa. Is there an echo in here? (Lately I've seen some Google error messages after clicking "publish your comment". Something about a URL being too long.) I gather the original comment is successfully received though I end up pushing the comment out twice when that happens.

Betsy Newmark said...

Sorry about that - I clicked on both comments before noticing they were the same. I took off the duplicate. I don't know what the problem is with Google.

tfhr said...

Don't get me started on Google. Hope you and yours had a nice Fourth.

tfhr said...

After reading the flowery comments about racist Robert Byrd delivered by Obama, Biden and Bill Clinton, I have to laugh about the contrast between the reaction (in the media) regarding Byrd and Strom Thurmond and the fate that befell Trent Lott.

Don't get me wrong, I've always found it hard to stomach just about anything Lott ever said and I don't miss that pompous poster child for TERM LIMITS at all. But when the media can look past Byrd's Klan affiliation, comfortable use of the N word, his voting record against every black Supreme Court nominee placed before him, and his filibuster and vote against the Civil Rights Bill, how on earth can we ever look at them with anything but contempt? Same said for Obama, Biden, and Clinton, the one referred to as "The First Black President".