Byrd: "Bush's war is turning the sands of Iraq blood red"

Like many avowed liberals, I have a hard time getting past the personal history of Senator Robert Byrd of West Virginia. Byrd spent a lot of his twenties as a member of the Ku Klux Klan -- something for which he has repeatedly expressed remorse and shame -- filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964, voted against the nomination of Thurgood Marshall to the United States Supreme Court in 1967 and was part of the "Gang of 14" who in 2005 compromised with Republicans on the appointment of right-wing judges.

But, at age 89, Byrd is the longest-serving Senator in U.S. history, is widely considered the Senate's foremost historian and expert in parliamentary matters and, when it comes to the Iraq war, was wise enough to be against it from the very beginning.

"Today I weep for my country. I have watched the events of recent months with a heavy, heavy heart," said Byrd in a Senate-floor speech on March 19, 2003, after George W. Bush ordered the Iraq invasion. "No more is the image of America one of strong, yet benevolent peacekeeper. The image of America has changed. Around the globe, our friends mistrust us, our word is disputed, our intentions are questioned. Instead of reasoning with those with whom we disagree, we demand obedience or threaten recrimination."

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