What the Robert Byrd obits missed

I read Byrd's obit in the Arizona Republic, by Lisa Mascaro and Richard Simon, in its entirety just to see how far they would go to airbrush the man. (The article on the paper's Website, by Andrew Taylor, is more informative, though nearly as fawning.) The headline is indicative: "Byrd's death an institutional loss in Senate." Well, yes, I suppose it will take the Democrats some time to nurture a pol as masterful at pork barrel spending. As Sen. Olympia Snowe noted, "The Senate will not be the same without Senator Byrd." We can only hope.

I read in vain for the letters "KKK" in the article. "A one-time segregationist and opponent of civil-rights legislation, he evolved into a liberal hero ..." One would have difficulty learning from such bland prose that the man first ran for public office at the urging of a grand dragon of the Ku Klux Klan, or that his 14 hour and 13 minute filibuster against the Civil Rights Act of 1964 remains one of the longest ever.

As Robert would have said, My, my. So allow me to try my hand at that kind of "journalism": "Since his death from what is often euphemistically called a 'social disease,' Mr. Capone is perhaps best remembered for his misunderstandings with the IRS."

"Byrd, 92, known as the conscience of the Senate for his devotion to the system of constitutional checks and balances and the prerogatives of power ..." Yes, "conscience of the Senate": that would be the still, small voice that said, "Go ahead, Bobby, add $1,700,000 to the bill for the Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam on the Ohio River ... Yes, Robbie, appropriate $2,750,000 to fund the Robert C. Byrd Clinic at the West Virginia School for Osteopathic Medicine ... Atta boy, Bob, vote against President Obama's requests out of your 'devotion to the system of constitutional checks and balances and the prerogatives of power.'" Two out of three ain't bad, right Robert? (For a list of 32 institutions in West Virginia which the senator had the modesty to name after himself, a list surely incomplete, go here.)

Even when the "journalists" get around to the topic of his pork, he was simply "corralling federal dollars for his perpetually struggling state." So his heart was in the right place, stealing from the taxpayers in the other 49 to help out his own state because it was "struggling." That's the conscience of the Democrat Party, robbing from the 52% who still pay taxes and giving it to constituents they deem more worthy. A tremendous legacy, Senator. We'll miss you.

Henry Percy is the nom de guerre for a technical writer living in Arizona. He may be reached at saler.50d@gmail.com.

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