June 28, 2010

The end of an era

I was saddened this morning to wake up to the news of the death of West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd. He was said to have passed at 3:00 a.m. after being hospitalized for heat exhaustion and dehydration. He was 92 and served in the Senate since 1958.

Byrd was someone who kept growing throughout his long and distinguished career. Unlike many politicians, he seemed to save his best for last. He stood pretty much alone in Congress in steadfastly opposing the Bush administration's rush to war in Iraq and threats to the constitution. He overcame the prejudice of his youth to endorse an African-American candidate for the presidency. And, crucially for West Virginia, he was the only state leader with the courage and the standing to speak rationally but truthfully about coal, climate change, and the choices the state must face. There is likely to be no one with the courage to follow in his footsteps.

"He was a man, take him for all in all, I shall not look upon his like again."