Obviously Robert Byrd was a complicated man. He went from being a segregationist (and Klan member!) to an ardent champion of civil rights and supporter of Barack Obama’s election. He also went from being a supporter of the Vietnam war to a fierce critic of of presidential warmaking and executive power, giving eloquent and impassioned speeches against the Iraq war when most of his colleagues were signing on to the invasion.
Byrd is perhaps best known for his love of the Senate’s traditions and byzantine rules and his unbridled love of pork, which he procured for his home state of West Virginia hand over fist (of course, one man’s pork…). Less well known is the fact that Senator Byrd was one of the Senate’s biggest supporters of the humane treatment of animals. In 2008, the Humane Society presented Byrd with its highest honor, The Joseph Wood Krutch Medal, for his work to improve animal welfare. R.I.P.