Byrd wants healthcare bill to honor Kennedy

The West Virginian says his "heart and soul weeps" over his friend's death, as he wept for Kennedy last year

Published August 27, 2009 12:30AM (EDT)

The statement that Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va., put out about the death of Ted Kennedy's death has attracted attention mainly for his call to name healthcare reform legislation after the late senator. That should get attention, as it's an interesting idea, one that could have serious political impact on the debate.

But what really struck me about Byrd's statement was the non-political part of it at the very beginning: "I had hoped and prayed that this day would never come. My heart and soul weeps at the loss of my best friend in the Senate, my beloved friend, Ted Kennedy."

Statements from politicians are, as a general rule, not exactly the most sincere things ever written. But there's no doubting Byrd's sincerity here, because last year, shortly after Kennedy was diagnosed with the cancer that would end up taking his life, Byrd spoke about his friend on the floor of the Senate. Whatever you feel about the two men and their politics, I think it's impossible not to be touched by what ensued, an all-too-rare truly, deeply human moment in Washington. Byrd breaks down talking about Kennedy's illness, and his heart and soul truly do appear to be weeping. The video is below.

By Alex Koppelman

Alex Koppelman is a staff writer for Salon.

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