Sunday, December 18, 2005

Senator Byrd - An American Hero

I have been reading Losing America, Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency by Senator Robert Byrd. I was sent the book (without requesting it - autographed no less) when I contributed to his reelection campaign last summer. I contributed because, to my complete surprise, Senator Byrd is probably the person in the US Government who I admire the most these days. He is a national treasure who is a great example (much to my chagrin from previous positions I have taken) that term limits for Congressmen and Senators are a bad idea. He appears to be the only lawmaker in the US Senate who has the balls to consistently stand up and say that the doofus would-be Emperor, that we presumably elected to run the government, not only has no clothes, he also has no brains, no courage, and no heart. No wonder he lives in proverbial OZ. (God I hate that MF.)

The book starts with the following:

“It was a perfect day. The crisp early September morning held just a hint of Washington’s loveliest season, fall. …..

As I drove along the George Washington Parkway on my way to work, a slight traffic delay allowed me to pick up the car telephone to check in with a staffer at my state office in Charleston, West Virginia. I was surprised by an anxious note in her voice as she answered the phone. Before I could speak, she immediately wanted to know if I was in my car and if I had the radio on.

For me, that conversation began a day which would turn the life of our nation upside down and transform a lackluster, inarticulate, visionless president into a national and international leader, nearly unquestioned by the media or by members of either party. That day would spur Congress to hand over, for the foreseeable future, its constitutional power to declare war. It would eventually lead this nation to an unprovoked attack on a sovereign nation. In consequence, that September morning would endanger cherished, constitutionally enshrined freedoms as had almost no other event in the life of our nation. It would also alter our nation’s foreign policy in profoundly disturbing ways.

But on this morning of September 11, 2001, there was yet no hint of all that”

The book goes on to describe the litany of ways that the current administration has taken power for itself at the expense of both Congress and the citizens of this country. He very eloquently verbalizes 90% of the thoughts I have been having about our government – including the increasing lack of discussion and debate we have in this country, especially about things that really matter, especially war. The political passiveness of the citizenry is the biggest danger we face in my opinion, and apparently Senator Byrd’s.

I highly recommend this book, not because it says things you haven’t read or heard before, but because Senator Byrd has involved in governing the US Government for 50 years, and has seen a lot of presidents, Democrats and Republicans up close. His observations in this book confirm your worst fears about the Bush administration and the Republican-led Congress. The real question we should be asking ourselves is why does an 87-year-old man have more guts than the rest of the chicken shits in Congress?

He is running for re-election in 2006. I can't imagine that I would have ever in the past advocated for electing someone almost 90 years old. However, I am afraid that after he leaves the Senate there will be no voice left to decry the freedoms and rights we are so cavalierly handing over to the government.