Monday, June 28, 2010

Robert C. Byrd, 1917-2010

West Virginia could almost be renamed Byrdland. RIP.

In an interview in 2005, when asked what he considered his proudest Senate achievement, Mr. Byrd said it was his efforts to bring federal money to West Virginia. “I’m proud I gave hope to my people,” he said.

That success also attracted criticism. Citizens Against Government Waste, a nonpartisan watchdog group, regularly crowned him the “king of pork,” citing projects like the Robert C. Byrd Highway, two Robert C. Byrd federal buildings, the Robert C. Byrd Freeway, the Robert C. Byrd Center for Hospitality and Tourism, the Robert C. Byrd Drive and the Robert C. Byrd Hardwood Technologies Center.

West Virginians were grateful for the help. Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, Democrat of West Virginia and the state’s junior senator since 1985, said Mr. Byrd had meant “everything, everything” to the state. Mr. Byrd knew, he said, that “before you can make life better, you have to have a road to get in there, and you have to have a sewerage system and all those things, and he has done that for most of the state.”

Almost entirely self-taught, the Senate has lost one its smartest members, the last of the New Dealers.



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