A Byrd In Hand Is Better Than Two In The Bush

Sen­a­tor Robert Byrd (D- WV) got a lot of flack in the news this week about some state­ments he made speak­ing out against the so-called “nuclear” option in the sen­ate. I find the Sen­a­tor to be far more ratio­nal-mind­ed than many give him cred­it for.

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.

Mr. Smith Goes To Washington

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.