Paul Jacob

The few remaining newspaper-reading residents of our nation’s capital were greeted, yesterday morning, with a large, unavoidable picture, in the Washington Post, of U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd (D-West Virginia).

And his dog.

Don’t get me wrong: I like dogs. At least, my own. At least, most of the time.

But both the picture and the Style section article (detailing the pooch paradise on Capitol Hill) bug me. Where to begin?

For starters, it never ceases to amaze that Mr. Byrd is still a high-level decision-maker in our government. At 92, Byrd is one of 100 U.S. senators, and currently the longest serving (52 years). His overall congressional tenure is the longest in American history.

Rush Limbaugh

His accomplishments in the last half century? The Robert C. Byrd Highway. The Robert C. Byrd Locks and Dam. The Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope. The Robert C. Byrd Institute for Advance Flexible Manufacturing. The Robert C. Byrd Academic and Technology Center. The Robert C. Byrd United Technical Center. The Robert C. Byrd Federal Building. The Robert C. Byrd Hilltop Office Complex. Et cetera.

Oh, and let’s not diminish his mighty contributions to our national debt of $13 trillion . . . and growing.

(For the record, the enthusiasm of some for the late Sen. Strom Thurmond (R-SC) amazed and perturbed me as well.)

Add to this, Byrd has never been able honestly to account for his past involvement as a Ku Klux Klan organizer, where he rose to the rank of “Exalted Cyclops.” Somehow, neither his party nor the media have forced an apology from him. As late as 2001, in a rare public interview in which the subject of racism was raised with the Senator, Byrd informed the world: “There are white niggers.”

But hey, that was nearly two Senate terms ago. What racial slur has he hurled lately?

Paul Jacob

Paul Jacob is President of Citizens in Charge Foundation and Citizens in Charge. His daily Common Sense commentary appears on the Web and via e-mail.