Day: November 15, 2009

Robert Byrd Longest Serving Member Of Congress On November 18

Democratic Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia will set an impressive record this coming Wednesday: longest serving member of Congress ever, with 57 years, 51 in the Senate (already longest service), plus six years in the House of Representatives.

Congratulations to Senator Byrd on his longevity! Having said that, will Senator Byrd be seen historically as one of the “great” Senators of all time? Not a chance!

Byrd had an early history of being involved in the Ku Klux Klan and opposed civil rights for a long time. He often has said embarrassing or outrageous statements during his years in Congress, and he obviously is in poor health now at almost age 92, and should really retire from his seat, but will do no such thing until he has taken his last breath, or the people of West Virginia retire him, which is highly unlikely since he is famous for “bringing home the pork” to his state.

He can be admired as a poor young man who went to law school while in Congress, and set a record for consecutive roll call votes that will never be broken. He mellowed as the years went by, and is now considered a reliably consistent Democrat in backing his party and his President.

Like anyone in public life, he has his definite foibles and shortcomings, but still, on this anniversary, we can wish that he is able to stabilize his poor health (a result of Parkinsons), and continue to serve his constituents, which he certainly has done very well.

Senator Lindsey Graham And The Republican Right Wing

South Carolina Republican Senator Lindsey Graham is facing a strong reaction from his party’s right wing, another sign of the sad state of the party of Lincoln. 🙁

Graham has always had an image of being somewhat independent. He was a strong supporter, and has always been a loyal friend of Senator John McCain, who many right wing Republicans have never been thrilled about. He has shown some willingness to back the Obama Administration on environmental issues, and avoids constant criticism of some other aspects of the Obama Presidency, although he has not actually voted to support the Democrats on any specific topic up to this point.

People tend to forget that he was one of the congressmen pushing for the impeachment of President Bill Clinton ten years ago. But right wing Republicans see him as a turncoat, because he has expressed the need for the GOP to be a “big tent” party, and he certainly comes across as comparatively moderate when put along side his South Carolina colleague, Jim DeMint, arguably one of the most right wing Republican senators.

Considering that South Carolina is still in many ways a “rebel” state living in the Civil War era, it will be a challenge for Lindsey Graham to survive in office as long as his state and his party continue their march to the far right.

The attack on Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, and now Lindsey Graham, is an alarm bell for the long term viability of the Republican party. When will common sense and rationality return to the party of Lincoln, TR, and Eisenhower? 🙁