I am all too aware of Senator Robert Byrd‘s (D-WV) former affiliation with the KKK. I chalk it up to the stupidity of youth. Lord knows our current and former presidents did a lot of dumb things in their youth. (They’ve done some very questionable things even much more recently.) Is it fair to use this man’s past as a lens by which to view him? I think that’s at least understandable, if not entirely fair. However, since the man is 88 years old and he was allegedly a member of the KKK in the 40’s, let’s assume he’s learned something since then and forgive the man that. He’s done a lot more good than harm since, particularly if you live in West Virginia.
More recently, though, Byrd got hammered for loosely comparing the conservative’s all-out takeover of U.S. government to that of the Nazi party after WWI. However, today Senator Byrd wrote an op-ed piece for the Washington Post that shows he is a man or reason and consideration; exactly the kind of individual the Senate deserves. He is known among senators as having vast knowledge of the rules of the senate and it’s place in history. Furthermore, long speeches ranting about the over-extension of the Executive bringing back memories of Nazi Germany aren’t exactly new, aren’t limited to Senator Byrd, and aren’t common to just the Democrats. They’re seems to be a few blow-hard Republican Senators who have been down this path before, as Wonkette points out (well, in a round about way). However, this is no different than the Republicans complaining about the left’s lack of stand-by-your-man support of the President in a time of war, even though they trashed Clinton when we had soldiers dying in the Balkans and in Somalia.
However, just because he is the Senate’s most vocal opponent of doing away with the Senate filibuster, he’s getting some special attention. This may be well onto it’s way of becoming the conservative blog’s next trophy head on the mantle wall. I truly hope not, as West Virginia needs all the fiery populists in the federal government it can find.
Now, to the real story here: why the hell does anybody want to do away with the filibuster? I know it’s a thorn in everyone’s side at some time or another. However, don’t we all know that our time to benefit from this eventually swings back around? This is just another example of extreme short-sightedness, of which both parties are so often guilty of. This is a very dangerous road to go down just to get some judge nominees approved by the Senate. Go watch Mr. Smith Goes To Washington if you need to feel the importance of the filibuster and why it’s an important element of the American government. It allows deliberation. It requires consensus on very heated matters. It helps to prevent tyranny of the government. Oh yeah, it makes sure that America doesn’t end up like Nazi Germany, no matter which party is in the White House or controls Congress.