I Know, ‘De Mortuis Nil Nisi Bonum,’ But Don’t Push It, Man
The opening of today’s Morning Jolt:
Most Of Us Never Saw The World From the Byrd’s Eye View
Remember yesterday morning when I told everyone to be on their best behavior about the death of West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd? Yeah, sorry about that; I didn’t realize the epic scale of the whitewash we were going to have to endure. I got through about midmorning, when somewhere around the headline “With Byrd’s death, the era of statesmen fades” I found myself unable to resist wondering whether in his honor today all white bedsheets would be flown at half-mast.
I understand not speaking ill of the dead, but the mainstream media pushes it; the career of Robert Byrd may have set a new record for glossing over horrific past views and behavior yesterday, and a new level of praising garden-variety corruption. (See Eleanor Clift approvingly noting how Byrd would alter the Senate schedule to accommodate his friends’ fundraisers.) Pick your angle: His career’s dawn, unbelievably racist by the standards of today, a long, slow sad decline into a physical inability to perform his duties (falling asleep on the Senate floor, rambling incoherently) and all along, a steady effort to move every last federal dollar back to West Virginia, and as I laid out yesterday, naming seemingly every last one of those projects after himself, in such a relentlessly, ostentatiously egomaniacal manner that even Kim Jong Il would declare it a little gauche. Sure, he loved history, enough to dress up as a Confederate general and do cameos in movies. Swell.
“De mortuis nil nisi bonum” means, roughly, “speak no ill of the dead,” and I understand the sentiment, but let’s not all avert our eyes and pretend Robert Byrd was something he wasn’t.