Sen. Robert Byrd Dead At 92

Jillian Bandes
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Posted: Jun 28, 2010 6:46 AM

He was the nation's longest-serving Senator.

In comportment and style, Byrd often seemed a Senate throwback to a courtlier 19th century. He could recite poetry, quote the Bible, discuss the Constitutional Convention and detail the Peloponnesian Wars _ and frequently did in Senate debates.

Yet there was nothing particularly courtly about Byrd's pursuit or exercise of power.

Byrd was a master of the Senate's bewildering rules and longtime chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which controls a third of the $3 trillion federal budget. He was willing to use both to reward friends and punish those he viewed as having slighted him.

He also brought up a debate as to whether a Senator should be in office for quite that long — Byrd was making only minor decisions for his office during his final years. But voters elected him, again and again, and that is the only validation a politician needs to know that he has fulfilled his job responsibilities. RIP.