Today, Senator Robert F. Byrd (D-WV) becomes the longest-serving United States Senator in history, surpassing the late Senator Strom Thurmond:
Byrd is a senator from another era. In an age where politics has long since been dominated by soundbites and snappy visuals, he cites Roman history, quotes from the Bible and reads poetry in his Senate speeches.
While young people today program iPods and design home pages on MySpace.com, Byrd got Congress to require schools and colleges to teach about the Constitution every Sept. 17, the day the document was adopted in 1787. He always carries a copy in his breast pocket and gives each incoming freshman senator one, calling it the “greatest document of its kind.”
Byrd also holds the Senate and its rules in reverence. He is quick to rebut attacks on filibusters that allow a minority of 41 senators to defeat legislation, or the ability of a senator to offer amendments on any topic to most bills.
“He is a fierce defender of the Senate and its prerogatives in ways that I think the founding fathers really intended the Senate to be,” said Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass.
He is most definitely a member of the Old Guard. At this point in time, there’s no way to predict if he’ll live to be a hundred, like Senator Thurmond did. No matter how much I may disagree with his stands, he nevertheless continues to serve the people of West Virginia by bringing home lots of bacon for his state. As a result, West Virginia loves him enough to keep re-electing him.