Robert Byrd: A History of Abusing Power

This week, the blogosphere buzzed with reaction to Senator Robert “Grand Wizard” Byrd’s comparison of the Republican Senate leaders to Nazis. His Washington Post op-ed contains some of the most partisan and hate-inspiring language penned by a sitting Senator in modern times.

Some of the shock over Byrd’s incendiary comments may arise from the carefully managed but false image of Byrd. The mainstream press, liberal academicians, and historians have, for decades, portrayed Byrd as a kindly, intellectual defender of the Senate’s history. How many times have Dan Rather or Tom Brokaw introduced him as such? A lie repeated often enough becomes a self-evident fact to the masses. But the lie about Byrd’s character deserves exposure.

Steven Taylor, Jonah Goldberg, and others have documented the brazen disingenuineness of Byrd’s attack on proposed rules changes in the Senate designed to prevent a small majority of Democrats from dictating the next round of judges appointed to the federal bench. In 1975, as minority leader, Byrd changed the very rules which he now claims were set in stone by God almighty when He handed the tablets containing the Senate’s rules to Lyndon B. Johnson in exchange for Johnson showing God how to pick up beagles by the ears.

But that 1975 rule change, authored and pushed by Byrd, was the just one of many abuses of privilege perpetrated by the Senate’s leading pork producer.

In 1992, Senator Byrd, Byrd introduced a bill that directly violated both law and Senate rules in order to cut SDI spending. According to Baker Spring of the Heritage Foundation,

If this is Byrd’s strategy, it is not only disingenuous, but_ an abuse of the rescission process set forth in the Budget Act_. The Budget Act defines a rescission bill as one “… which only rescinds, in whole or in part, budget authority proposed to be rescinded in a special message transmitted by the President…. " The definition contains no reference to rescissions of budget authority not requested by the President, such as the funding cut for SDI. As such, Byrd’s bill should not be entitled to the special expedited procedures established for rescission bills by the Budget Act. These procedures impose severe limits on the types of amendments that may be offered to a rescission bill and the time for debate on such a bill.

Given these circumstances a point of order, a procedure that declares a bill inappropriate for Senate consideration, could be raised against the Byrd bill. By definition rescission bills must be limited to rescissions requested by the President. As such, the bill rammed through the Appropriations Committee by Byrd should not qualify for the special procedures established by the 1974 Budget Act. These procedures limit Senate debate on rescission bills to ten hours. A point of order, if successfully lodged, would at a minimum allow an open-ended debate of the bill. [emphasis mine]

Spring goes on to establish what every American interested in Byrd’s real character should understand:

The actions by Byrd in dealing with Bush’s rescission request serve as an example of what is wrong with Congress today. They reveal an attitude that says no law is worth observing, no national interest is too important, and no previous commitment need be honored in the pursuit of pork barrel spending, immediate political gain, and the embarrassment of the President.

Of course, the Bush referred to is Forty-One. But the Bushes are not the only victims of Robert Byrd’s unquenchable thirst for pork dollars and power.

On race relations, CBS News Online recently re-published Deroy Murdock’s excellent history of the contrast between Republicans and Democrats when it comes to advancing African-Americans. The report demonstrated Robert Byrd’s longstanding hatred of blacks:

The Democrats' Klan-coddling today is embodied by KKK alumnus Robert Byrd, West Virginia’s logorrheic U.S. senator and, having served since January 3, 1959, that body’s dean. Thirteen years earlier, Byrd wrote this to the KKK’s Imperial Wizard: “The Klan is needed today as never before and I am anxious to see its rebirth here in West Virginia.” Byrd led Senate Democrats as late as December 1988. On March 4, 2001, Byrd told Fox News’s Tony Snow: “There are white niggers. I’ve seen a lot of white niggers in my time; I’m going to use that word.” National Democrats never have arranged a primary challenge against or otherwise pressed this one-time cross-burner to get lost.

During Condoleezza Rices' confirmation hearings, Senator Byrd’s rancorous opposition was surpassed only by Barbara Boxer’s. Boxer is an idiot who couldn’t pour piss from a boot with the directions on the heel, but Byrd’s opposition, cloaked in policy differences, betrayed his mistrust of blacks–or, the word Byrd is more comfortable with, “nigras.”

Senator Byrd, who pretends to defend the sanctity of the Senate against all enemies, draws the line when the enemy is the Soviet Union or al Qaeda. One could argue that the only enemies Byrd ever recognized were and are “nigras, Jews, and Republicans.” These are Byrd’s words on the floor of the Senate in his attempt to cut defense spending:

The defense budget already consumes a bit over half of the domestic discretionary budget that Congress must allocate among programs ranging from health research to agriculture, education to highway and air traffic safety, environmental protection to diplomacy. How much more are we willing to trade between guns and butter? How much must we trade, or might alternatives be found in the course of free and open debate?

The date of that speech was September 26, 2001–just two weeks and a day following the September 11 attacks.

In the early 1990s, Byrd tried to eliminate government grants to the National Science Foundation on the grounds that their work was illegitimate. That work included groundbreaking discoveries in protecting endangered species, crime investigation, and hydrogen and other alternative energies. But some of the NSF’s work helped defend America and her allies against communist aggression, earning this great American’s scorn.

The people in West Virginia suffer because of Byrd’s hypocrisy. Human Events points to Byrd’s support for anti-coal mining legislation bearing the name of John McCain:

Most stunning for energy observers is that Sen. Robert Byrd (D-W. Va.), who voted against McCain-Lieberman last year, is now contemplating supporting it. The reason? Byrd despises President Bush, and hopes that passing the bill, which Bush opposes, will embarrass the White House. But the bill spells disaster for West Virginia, destroying 50,000 coal jobs and eliminating coal as a fuel source (West Virginia gets 99% of its electricity from coal). Said one coal industry lobbyist: “Robert Byrd has lost his mind, period. When has a senator ever considered voting for a bill he knew would single-handedly destroy his state?”

In the run-up to the Iraq war in 2002, Senator Byrd, good American that he is, took to the Senate floor to defend Saddam Hussein on the basis of Reagan administration support for Saddam back 1983. (He read an article by, of all people, Christopher Dickey.) This kind of “it’s all our fault” disgraces the Senate. Criticism of American failures are appropriate, but they are not an appropriate justification for leaving a mass-murderer in power. In fact, our assistance to Saddam during the Cold War made him our responsibility. It takes a man to realize he’s made a mistake, and it takes a nation of powerful character to go to war to right a wrong it had a hand in creating. But Senator Byrd would rather one million innocent Iraqis die at Saddam’s hand than give the president of his country a single victory in the Senate.

For at least twenty years, in the areas of race relations, defense, budgetary responsibility, and civilized debate, Senator Byrd’s record is despicable. His words are weapons. His abuse of power is legendary. His victims include poor coal miners in his own state of West Virginia, American troops, history, decorum, civility, and humanity. Perhaps his supposed devotion to recording history is to make sure succeeding generations never find out what a wretched waste of human flesh he is.

Some great American.

Check back later this week for more on Byrd’s hideous history. Here are other stories on Byrd:

Outstide the Beltway on filibusters

Wizbang has a roundup

Ed Morrissey summarizes Senator Cornyn’s response to Byrd

Q and O has an excellent recap of the whole filibuster affair

P.S. I think Byrd looked like an idiot playing fiddle on Hee-Haw.

UPDATE: I’ve received some e-mails (though no comments) from folks who think my “nigras” comment was over the top. Well, Robert Byrd is a disgusting human being. I’m just throwing back at him what he’s thrown on the world, the way he used to throw gasoline on crosses.