May 04, 2004


What’s the story behind Margo Kingston's fatherhood fixation with old Klansman Robert Byrd?

"Robert Byrd, a Democrat, is the father of the US Senate."

"Across the Atlantic in mid February, Democrat Senator Robert Byrd (at 86 years of age the so-called 'Father of the Senate') spoke out ... "

"I'll never forget what the father of the US Senate, Robert Byrd, said on the eve of war. I cry every time I read it."

In her latest wild offering -- in which Margo claims that those torture photographs "end any chance that the Iraqi people will believe that America is a benign force for freedom and democracy" -- Big Daddy Byrd makes another, slightly Margofied, appearance:

"The father of thus Senate and a consistent opponent of the war, Senator Robert Byrd made a speech called Mission Not Accomplished in Iraq."

Maybe Margo is angling for an adoption.

Posted by Tim Blair at May 4, 2004 02:16 AM

Maybe he reminds her of her own father? You know, sitting at the kitchen table, fifth beer in his hand, making long inconherent speeches about the "n*****s".

Hey, she had to learn the "in the woodpile" phrase somewhere.

Posted by: monkeyboy at May 4, 2004 at 02:28 AM

Got news for Margo - I've never heard anyone in the US refer to Byrd as the father of the Senate. A Google search basically backs this up. Apparently the term is awarded to the Senator with the longest service.

If it was awarded to the Senator with the most offspring, I believe the famously "friendly" Strom Thurmond would have been the father of the Senate by any definition.

Posted by: R C Dean at May 4, 2004 at 02:29 AM

She cries every time she reads it? Just how often does an Australian journalist feel compelled to read a speech by a kooky senator from West Virginia? And cry?

Posted by: cicada at May 4, 2004 at 02:33 AM

I've heard Democrats refer to the Klansman from West Virginia as the 'Conscience' of the Senate before.

I always wondered how they managed that without getting struck by lightening.

Still, it is very revealing that Democrats view a Klansman as anything but an abomination.

(yeah, I know, the dems always say 'ex' klansman, but I've never seen a resignation letter...)

Posted by: jack at May 4, 2004 at 02:34 AM

I am guessing that she feels a certain affinity for him, since he is from West Viginia, and Margo looks like a refugee from the Appalachians herself.

(As a commenter here once wrote upon seeing her scowling visage, "she looks like the revenuers blew up her last still")

Posted by: Carl in N.H. at May 4, 2004 at 02:43 AM

no jack - it is floppy joe lieberman who is the conscience of the Senate. you know, a devout orthodox jew who supports abortion, dumped his first wife (hey joe did you give her a get?), skipped out on vietnam, let BJ Clinton skate after admitting that he (BJ) probably is a serial rapist, etc, etc.

so to sum up: Joe Lieberman is the conscience, the Grand Kleagle Robert Byrd is the father and Teddy (bartender i said a double) Kennedy is the driver.

Posted by: hen at May 4, 2004 at 02:47 AM

And in Britain, the "Father of the House" is Tam Dalyell, who ranted about a "Jewish cabal" controlling the American and British governments.

What is it about "Fathers" of major democratic assemblies, anyway?

Posted by: Damian P. at May 4, 2004 at 02:53 AM

"Father of the Senate"? Never heard it either. He did cut a not-half-bad bluegrass record about 40 years ago. For what it's worth, I think we should drop the KKK thing. Byrd has completely disavowed his racist views.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at May 4, 2004 at 02:54 AM

Byrd has completely disavowed his racist views.

Cite evidence, please.

Posted by: david at May 4, 2004 at 03:02 AM

I wonder if Byrd qualifies as one of Margo's evil Americans who can't understand and appreciate other races and cultures.

I must say though, the thought of Margo with a white bag covering her head is an appealing one.

Posted by: gaz at May 4, 2004 at 03:07 AM

What would the white bag have done to deserve such treatment?

Posted by: Doc at May 4, 2004 at 03:10 AM

Hey S.A. - Byrd might have disavowed his racist past, but he still has no problem throwing the N word around, as he recently did on some Sunday Morning news show i.e. Meet the Press.

He wasn't just some schmuck who joined the KKK, he was a Kleagle, a recruiter.

Posted by: hen at May 4, 2004 at 03:12 AM


Byrd made a comment about there being "white niggers", too, which was actually kind of funny because it implies that he thinks there is a legitimate use for the term "nigger". If he'd been hipper Byrd would have called them "wiggers".

I remember Elvis Costello years ago got flack for using that term ("white nigger") in a song of his (Oliver's Army). But then Elvis C. has also used the "N"-word in anger. I've used the term, too. Nevertheless I love Elvis C. and I still love myself and wish all mankind well.

David, I heard Byrd (on TV) with my own ears condemn himself for belonging to the KKK. I looked for a good link on google, but can't find anything that quotes from the interview I saw. But I probably over-stated Byrd's self-rebuke to begin with.

My real point is that emphasizing Byrd's racist past (and implied racist present) when the issue is war and the reasons for war (a war I supported) is a classic red herring. Avoid it.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at May 4, 2004 at 03:36 AM

Be sure to fill this out and mail it to Robert Byrd for your autographed photograph.

Posted by: BC at May 4, 2004 at 04:03 AM

Judging from the amount of money he demands from it, "First wife of the Senate" might be a better title.

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek at May 4, 2004 at 04:04 AM

I believe I've heard Byrd referred to as the "Dean of the US Senate", which refers to his length of service. He came to the Senate in 1959, and has been there ever since. The only member who had longer tenure than Byrd (until recently) was Strom Thurmond of South Carolina, who was elected in 1952.

Posted by: Sachem at May 4, 2004 at 04:45 AM

I have NEVER heard anyone referred to as the "Father of the Senate." "Dean" yes, 'Father' no. 'Father of..." implies some sort of founding status as in "Father of our Nation." (Hint: G.Washington)

Posted by: rabidfox at May 4, 2004 at 04:51 AM

I guess 'we' should, S.A, and while we're at it, does David Duke get included in your magnaminity? He occasionally asserts that he's given up racism, too.

I bet 'we' would love for the right to stop pointing out that 'we' continuously elect a klansman to congress. The negroes might notice, and 'we' know how uppity they get over the klan. 'We' might find 'ourselves' within the black vote come November...

Posted by: jack at May 4, 2004 at 05:34 AM

You, Jack, can do anything you like. I was just making a suggestion. If you want to attack an argument against war by calling a guy a racist, that's completely up to you.

Now, as for equating David Duke with Robert Byrd, there is no comparison. It was a rare white bird indeed who was born in 1917 and grew up in North Carolina and West Virginia during the 20's and 30's, who did not hold racist views or regarded the KKK as anything particularly onerous; it is not a surprise at all that he might have held racist views. Are you surprised? Do you think he is still, in his heart, a racist? Maybe he is. I don't know.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at May 4, 2004 at 05:46 AM

S.A. Smith, yes, and Hitler loved animals, was good to his mother, and was a vegetarian. Sometimes we just hound good people long after they've reformed.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at May 4, 2004 at 05:56 AM

Thanks. S.A., I will.

My point, that no one calls this idiot the 'Father of the Senate' and that Dems tendency to refer to a 'former' klansman as the Conscience of the Senate has nothing to do with war.

Or didn't you notice?

Byrd's positions--all of them are tainted by his enthusiastic membership in the klan. The Dems are also tainted by their acceptance of this. When ex-klansman Duke tried to glom onto the Republican party the party said NO.

The dems still laud and praise those who filibustered the Civil Rights act. And, while you're sure that these idiots have changed their ways, I'm far from convinced.

Posted by: jack at May 4, 2004 at 08:08 AM

Byrd and Thurmond are good examples of why we need term limits. The local political machines continue to support these basically evil people and the electorate has no choice.... except to not vote. Does that explain anything to anyone?

Posted by: Franklin Hill at May 4, 2004 at 08:45 AM

Robert Byrd did not father the US Senate in any way, shape, or form. Nor do people in the USA call him the father of the Senate. If you asked an American who is the father of the Senate, they’d either say that nobody was ever called that or they’d figure that you were talking about one of the Founding Fathers.

Margo Kingston stating & the SMH publishing a straightforward falsehood. And a damned stupid & stupid-sounding one, too.

Posted by: ForNow at May 4, 2004 at 09:32 AM

I never said the Dem's weren't hypocrites. In fact, I'd say they're worse, particularly in matters of race, than the Repub's.

Posted by: S.A. Smith at May 4, 2004 at 10:12 AM

'Byrd sees himself as "the conscience of the Senate" – a revered constitutionalist, a sort of Lord Blake of West Virginia. But more to the point, he’s the Duke of Pork...' -- Mark Steyn, The Face of the Tiger (2002), p 225.

Posted by: Uncle Milk at May 4, 2004 at 11:10 AM

I just think of him as the crazy old aunt in the attic of the Senate. He's the only one I know who can make Kerry look like less of a parody of a Senator. Nobody dares tell him that he's an embarrassment because he has so much seniority.

Posted by: AST at May 4, 2004 at 02:13 PM

From my post: The Sword of Propganda
Sen. Robert Byrd believes "our enemies see the invincible American armor as penetrable by the sword of urban guerrilla warfare."

Perhaps our enemies see American armor as penetrable by Americans who wield the propaganda sword with statements like these:

Iraq is a pointless conflict, an unprovoked attack, a unnecessary war, a war that should not have been fought, a war in the wrong place, at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons.The mission in Iraq...has failed. It has tarnished the beacon of hope and freedom. The US ship of state is being tossed like a dinghy in a storm of Middle East politics. - Sen. Robert Byrd

Posted by: Jane at May 4, 2004 at 02:37 PM

I'm sure Henry B. Anthony would be rolling in his grave right now.

(He was known as the Father of the Senate, and played a key role in the impeachment of President Johnson (Andrew).

As for Byrd: If he is a man who has seen the error of his ways, as mentioned above, we should celebrate the return of the prodigal, should we not? And whatever his views on other matters at another time, on Iraq he is 100% correct.

Posted by: Nemesis at May 4, 2004 at 02:43 PM

And he seems to have renounced the KKK a long time ago...

Interviewed on CNN, in 1993:

Shaw: What has been your biggest mistake and your biggest success?

Sen Byrd: Well, it's easy to state what has been my biggest mistake. The greatest mistake I ever made was joining the Ku Klux Klan. And I've said that many times. But one cannot erase what he has done. He can only change his ways and his thoughts. That was an albatross around my neck that I will always wear. You will read it in my obituary that I was a member of the Ku Klux Klan.

Posted by: Nemesis at May 4, 2004 at 02:48 PM

American Blairian brethren,

How hard is it, really, to knock off an incumbent US Senator at the ballot-box? Everyone seems to talk as if they're in for life. I mean, thery can't gerrymander their own electoral boundaries.

Or is it that States don't want to lose their seniority (= pork, committee chairs, etc) of representation in Congress?

Posted by: Uncle Milk at May 4, 2004 at 02:49 PM

Dang, not only is Byrd an ex-klansman, he's also endorsed by NEMESIS. Talk about an albatross around the neck.

Remember! When a old white racist renounces his past, you can take him on his word . . . if he happens to be a Democrat!

Posted by: Sortelli at May 4, 2004 at 03:10 PM

No Democrat me. Sortelli's off in his entirely imaginary world again.

Posted by: Nemesis at May 4, 2004 at 04:41 PM

Uncle Milk:

Pork is the big issue, but family networks help. Senators and representatives have been voted out office before, even if they were open handed with the public coffers. It usually takes arrogance, stupidity, or a combination thereof to push the electorate over to the other camp. I can think of two that were booted that way -- Senator McGovern and Representative Foley (Foley was the Speaker of the House at the time, by the way, a top leadership position).

In the case of Byrd, not only is he deeply into pork spending (and quite cagey about it, I might add), he is oh so humble. Add in his senority, and he effectively holds office until he decides to step down.

Posted by: JeffS at May 4, 2004 at 04:45 PM

"And whatever his views on other matters at another time, on Iraq he is 100% correct."

Everyone! This was not an endorsement. It may look like a statement of praise and/or agreement, but I was obviously mistaken. My apologies, Nem. I forgot that nothing you say can be counted on.

Posted by: Sortelli at May 4, 2004 at 05:03 PM