Friday, September 12, 2008

Senator Robert C. Byrd Writes A Letter To Our New President

Robert C. Byrd of West Virginia is the longest serving member of the United States Senate in history. Senator Byrd has been in office for 54 years and has served alongside 11 presidents. He was twice elected by his colleagues to the position of Senate Majority Leader and currently is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

In his 90 years on this Earth he's lived through two world wars, the Great Depression, the civil rights movement, the Cold War, and 9/11. He is a living history of the 20th century. In his new book Letter To A New President, Senator Byrd strives to share the commonsense lessons he has learned throughout his long life, over half of it spent in politics and service to the people of West Virginia and our nation.

I'll admit that I am a baby to politics. I'm ashamed to say that I never really worried about my government until one day less than a decade ago I slowly began to wake up and realize my country was a very different place than I'd imagined. I'm also ashamed to say that until yesterday when I picked up his book from the library I knew next to nothing about Senator Byrd.

I have a new found respect for him and his story. He reminds me of my grandfather and my father, strong Southern men who've had to change with the times, having some of their most basic values about society tested and proved false. What I respect is their ability to adjust and grow, admit mistakes and soberly move on.

What is his advice to our next president? It's so simple and also like sitting in my grandparents house listening to ruminations about how to lead an exemplary life. Byrd counsels the new president to:

-Find a way to reach the American people in much the same way as Franklin D. Roosevelt did with his fireside chats. Talk to them as a friend or family member, from a place of compassion not condescension.

-Remember that no life stands outside of history. We are products of our time and we must learn lessons from the past. He quotes revolutionary war hero, Nathanael Greene in saying, "Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful." (I love this quote.)

-Never lie or mislead. "Nuff said.

-Build a presidency around accountability. "The buck stops here," said Harry Truman of his time in the Oval Office.

-Let the press do it's job, even when what they say about you stings.

-You will make mistakes. Take responsibility for them without hours of well planned spin and talking papers for justification.

-Be well versed in diplomacy. It's a skill that will serve you more than any other with foreign relations.

-Bring the nation together by putting an end to partisan warfare and replacing it with real debate.

-And for heavens sake, teach the people about the Constitution and encourage them to think for themselves and speak out, even if it is against you, most certainly if it is a voice of dissent. Those voices will be your compass on this difficult journey.

My goodness, do I respect this man and his wisdom. He is nearing the end of his political career and some have said he's become a doddering old fool. I would counter that he is an icon of a bygone era of respectable public servants. His book is a voice of reason in a turbulent time of talking heads and beeping cell phones.

I'm so glad I stumbled on his book and pray that a copy will be waiting on the next president's desk in the White House and he will eagerly devour and refer to it often.


Rohit Tripathi said...

Wow.. So many awards..... gr8... tell me one thing you have the same kind of template that. i have.. but where do u get this three Colum template?

New Post :
I don’t want to love you… but I do....

Lisa McGlaun said...


The link for the blog template is at the bottom left hand column. Good luck with it.