Senator Robert “Kleagle” Byrd has a lot of history to answer for. Born with the most magical name in Virgina politics, the Senator nevertheless grew up poor. His constant harking on his hardscrabble roots to voters plays very well in the mountains and “hollers” of his native West Virginia. And his “good old boy” demeanor on the campaign trail has meant electoral success for more than half a century.
It’s not unusual to erect statues to prominent politicians. I remember a statue of Abe Lincoln in my home town. It was an interactive statue in that kids would climb all over it, hang from the Great Emancipator’s outstretched arms, and sit on his gigantic feet.
But Abe Lincoln had been dead nearly a hundred years by the time that statue had been built. I guess Senator Sheets didn’t want to wait that long:
The Morgantown lawyer made his announcement near the base of a statue of West Virginia’s senior Democratic senator at the state Capitol in Charleston.
Sen. Byrd has set a new standard for taxpayer-funded narcissism by convincing the West Virginia Legislature to erect a statue of himself in the state Capitol. The statue’s completion violates state law prohibiting statues of government officials until they have been dead for half a century.
What a weird feeling that must be! To know that a permanent likeness of yourself is already gracing the Capitol of your home state would give me the willies. But then, I must not have the ego and chutzpah to force the issue through the state legislature in the first place.
Byrd’s opponent may be Hiram Lewis IV, the state’s Republican Party Treasurer. Here he is making the announcement of his candidacy in front of the stern visage of the former Kluxer. I’ve added a caption for effect:
“ALL NIGRAS WILL KNEEL BEFORE ME”
By the way, if I were Hiram, I’d drop that “IV” from the end of his name. Most of those good simple folk from West Virginia look at that moniker and think immediately of the snobby kid from the big house on the hill outside of town. Best do a little back slappin’ and “grinnin’ like a possum” if you’re going to make any headway with the good people of the Mountaineer state.
Mark Noonan of Blogs for Bush gives us just the right amount of outrage:
This is an un-American outrage; we shouldn’t be waiting for an election to get rid of Byrd, we should be impeaching him! And every government official, elected or otherwise, who had a hand in approving the creation of this abomination. That statue should be ripped down today; as our ancestors once upon a time ripped down the icons of living political leaders who taxed and oppressed our people.
Mark, as usual, has hit the nail on the head. It’s unseemly for us to immortalize sitting politicians. Makes us look like a banana republic or worse, a decrepit relic from the cold war Soviet Union where we got used to seeing pictures of a young, vigorous Brezhnev all over Moscow while the real thing was wasting away to mummyhood.
I don’t know though…I think the Senator looks pretty good, very dignified. But, what’s he doing with his left hand? At least he’s got it in his own pocket; we’re pretty used to having it in ours.