Congressional Nursing Home

One of the things that disappoints me the most about my time around the U.S. Congress has been how some lawmakers stay too long and then die in office.

Unfortunately, we are watching the deterioration of at least one member right now, as Sen. Robert Byrd (D-West Virginia) has been in increasingly fragile health.

Byrd has been hospitalized in recent weeks, and has encountered more health issues.

"According to his doctors, Senator Byrd developed a staph infection during his initial hospitalization for treatment for a minor infection," said a statement issued by his office on Monday.

"This, in turn, has delayed his departure from the hospital at this time."

The 91 year old Byrd - who has been in the Senate since 1959 - has gone from full throated octogenarian, to wheelchair bound and frail.

"There has been no additional indication as to when he will be released from the hospital," said the statement from Byrd's office.

While some might say that I shouldn't focus on this, out of deference for the senior Senator from West Virginia, Byrd isn't just any Senator.

He is third in line to the Presidency.

That's because Byrd is the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, a position often filled by the longest serving member in either party.

Sen. Strom Thurmond - who also spent a lot of time in the care of what I would call the "Senate Nursing Home" - was also the President Pro Tem near the end of his career.

It's just unfortunate to watch.

None of us like to see our family members grow old and frail, but it happens.

I just wish the people here in Congress would realize that it's better to move on, rather than grind their ways through their last days.

It would certainly be better for their constituents, who aren't getting what they voted for.

In this case, it's the voters of West Virginia, who have a staff that's doing most of the Senator's work.

I wish Sen. Byrd the best of recoveries.  I would rather remember him as the smiling Senator who would shake everyone's hand when he came in the door of the Capitol, and not the elderly man who looked old and tired as he went by in a wheelchair.

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