Eulogy Of The Dog

“If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog,” said former US President Harry Truman.

The sentiment says much about loyalty and friendship in politics. It has been borrowed and reworked in political circles the world over.

But George Vest probably said it first, exactly 144 years ago today.

Vest is remembered for his closing arguments in an 1870 trial over the shooting of a hunting dog called Old Drum. Vest’s statement was inserted in the Congressional Record as part of a speech delivered by Senator Robert Byrd on April 23, 1990.

George Graham Vest (1830-1904) was a lawyer and a politician who served as a Missouri Congressman, a Confederate Congressman during the Civil War, and finally a US Senator.

Partial transcript of the Address to the Jury by George Vest, in the Johnson County Circuit Court in Wattensburg, Missouri.

VestGentlemen of the jury: The best friend a man has in this world may turn against him and become his enemy. His son or daughter that he has reared with loving care may prove ungrateful. Those who are nearest and dearest to us, those whom we trust with our happiness and our good name, may become traitors to their faith. The money that a man has, he may lose. It flies away from him, perhaps when he needs it the most. A man’s reputation may be sacrificed in a moment of ill-considered action. The people who are prone to fall on their knees to do us honor when success is with us may be the first to throw the stone of malice when failure settles its cloud upon our heads. The one absolutely unselfish friend that a man can have in this selfish world, the one that never deserts him and the one that never proves ungrateful or treacherous is his dog. [Read more…]

We Stand Passively Mute: Senator Robert Byrd On Iraq

This is the text of a speech by West Virginia’s Democratic Senator Robert Byrd on Iraq.

In the words of Sydney Morning Herald columnist Alan Ramsey, the speech shows that, by comparison, Australia has “pygmies” for politicians.

Senator Byrd has been a senator since 1958.

Speech by Senator Robert Byrd (Democrat-West Virginia).

ByrdTo contemplate war is to think about the most horrible of human experiences. On this February day, as this nation stands at the brink of battle, every American on some level must be contemplating the horrors of war.

Yet, this Chamber is, for the most part, silent — ominously, dreadfully silent. There is no debate, no discussion, no attempt to lay out for the nation the pros and cons of this particular war. There is nothing. [Read more…]

White House Mood Is Bellicose: Senator Robert C. Byrd

Robert C. Byrd is a Democratic Party Senator from West Virginia. Byrd was the only Senator in the 100-member chamber to vote against opening debate on the Iraq question.

The Senate has opened debate on Joint Resolution 46, a resolution authorizing the President to use whatever force he deems necessary in Iraq or elsewhere.

ByrdByrd was first elected to the Senate in 1958 and has now served for 44 years. He holds the title of “Dean of the Congress” and is well known as an independent and much-respected custodian of the rights and prerogatives of the Senate. He carries with him at all times a copy of the United States Constitution and often produces it during his speeches.

His remarks to the Senate urged caution over moves to war with Iraq. Byrd accused President Bush of “bellicose” and hasty behaviour, warning: “Let us guard against the perils of haste, lest the Senate fall prey to the dangers of taking action that is both blind and improvident.” [Read more…]

Clinton Impeachment: Statement By Senator Robert Byrd

The following is a statement from the Senate’s closed deliberations on the Articles of Impeachment against President Clinton, excerpts of which senators were allowed to publish in the Congressional Record for Friday, February 12, 1999.

Senator Robert Byrd was a Democratic senator from West Virginia. He served from 1959 until his death in 2010. At that time, he was the longest-serving senator in the history of the Congress.

Statement by Senator Robert Byrd (Democrat – West Virginia)

Mr. Chief Justice:

I think my country sinks beneath the yoke,

It weeps, it bleeds,

And each new day,

a gash is added to her wounds.

I am the only remaining Member of Congress who was here in 1954 when we added the words ‘under God’ to the Pledge of Allegiance. That was on June 7, 1954. One year from that day we added the words ‘In God We Trust’ to the currency and coin of this country. Those words were already on some of the coins. But I shall always be proud to have voted to add those words, ‘under God’ and ‘In God We Trust.’ They mean much to us today as we meet here. [Read more…]