RIP, Senator Byrd
For more than a third of its 144-year existence, the state of West Virginia was represented in the U.S. Senate by one man: Robert C. Byrd. So encompassing was Byrd's 50 years of service in the Senate and so encyclopedic his institutional knowledge that by the time he died early Monday morning, he had become not just the political personification of West Virginia in the nation's capital, but the embodiment and ambassador of the Senate itself to the rest of the country. Byrd was admitted to hospital last week for dehydration, and his condition worsened over the weekend as he became critically ill. Twice its majority leader, a master of its all-powerful rules and a fierce defender of its prerogatives, Byrd was as much a part of the place as the wooden desks, steep-sloped galleries and soaring speeches that filled it. Byrd was 92.