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Robert Byrd, 91, longest-serving senator ever, in hospital again

May 18, 2009 | 12:52 pm

91 year old West Virginia democrat senator Robert Byrd in 2008

Word today is that West Virginia's Democratic Sen. Robert Byrd is in the hospital again. If people got frequent flier miles for hospital stays, he'd have several free flights back to Charleston.

Byrd has served in the U.S. Senate longer than even Vice President Joe Biden did. Byrd has been in Congress since 1952 and in the Senate since 1958, longer than anyone else in the nation's history.

Such a distinction is deemed important in the wonderful world of Washington's Capitol Hill. Everyone wishes him well, of course.

The man is 91 years old, uses a wheelchair and, if you watch the videos below, including a speech he gave on the Senate floor last winter, he often seems to be living somewhere else. Only last year, only under collegial pressure, he relinquished chairmanship of the powerful Appropriations Committee.

 As West Virginia's top politics blogger Don Surber warns: "Byrd will outlive us all."

Byrd was hospitalized at an undisclosed location several days ago for a temperature spike and infection, and no one noticed until his office released a statement today. The statement said he "is being treated with antibiotics, responding well and is expected to be released from the hospital in a few days."

West Virginia can elect anyone it deems worthy to the Senate. And has, like every other state. But here's the problem for the nation: This guy is No. 3 in line to become president of the United States after Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Third in line.

Watch the videos and see how you feel about that.


-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: (Byrd after a hospitalization last year). Credit: Associated Press

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