Byrd (D-WV) NOT Dead, Contrary to Local Reports

According to Bob Byrd’s hometown paper, Senate Democrats have begun to discuss contingency plans to deal with his extended absence from Washington. And some have even jumped the gun and declared the passing of the 91 year old:

Sen. Robert C. Byrd’s state of health has prompted some quiet, behind-the-scenes discussions in the event the senator is unable to return to office.

I understand Gov. Joe Manchin met with state Democratic Party chairman Nick Casey last week, with U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., on a conference call to discuss contingencies.

As noted before, Casey is generally regarded as the consensus choice to serve as a placeholder for Byrd’s Senate seat in the event Byrd would have to step down prior to the 2010 elections.

However, former Gov. Gaston Caperton was in town earlier this month to meet with Manchin, sparking speculation that he might be under consideration for that role.

Records for the governor’s mansion show that Caperton and wife Idit were guests at the mansion June 1-3…

Meanwhile, practically every newspaper in America keeps draft obituaries for prominent public figures and celebrities on file. (In the pre-computer era, newspapers’ in-house libraries were called morgues for that very reason.)

However, some Internet surfers were shocked (and some also offended) when WSAZ-TV’s Web site briefly posted a web page Friday entitled “Remembering Senator Robert Byrd, 1917-2009” on its wsaz.com web site.

Like the draft obituaries, the Web page was obviously being prepared for use at some future date, but was inadvertently “published” briefly on Friday.

Whatever you think of Bob Byrd, this can’t have been the way he wanted to spend his last months/weeks/days in the Senate – watching potential successors bid for his Senate seat before he’s even dead. When he chose to seek re-election in 2006 however, the die was cast. Perhaps his physical condition will at least lead to some good outcome – the failure to overcome filibusters against truly offensive legislation.

As I have pointed out previously, neither Ted Kennedy nor Bob Byrd has voted in the Senate since April 27. Democrats are counting on Al Franken being seated in Minnesota to get them to 60 votes. The way things are going, they might need him just to get to 58.