Losing America: Confronting a Reckless and Arrogant Presidency

TUE, JUL 27, 2004 (45:24)

Senator Byrd, in discussion with Edward Kennedy and Wesley Clark, offers his perspective on some of the most critical issues facing Americans today. From the White House wall of secrecy to the campaign to authorize the use of force in Iraq to the massive expansion of military budgets and the secretary of defense’s authority. Calling on Congress to reaffirm the checks and balances established in the Constitution by the Founding Fathers; on the media to reassume the responsibilities of the Fourth Estate; and on the American people to become engaged in the political process and let their voices be heard. Byrd lives up to Abraham Lincoln’s challenge to “the better angels of our nature” and vividly demonstrates why his colleagues call him “the conscience of the Senate.” As the third-longest serving member of Congress in America’s history, Senator Robert C. Byrd has an unparalleled knowledge of the inner-workings of the United States government. In Losing America: Confronting A Reckless and Arrogant Presidency, Byrd uses his lifetime of experience to sound a stunning wake-up call to the American people, the media, and his fellow legislators to halt the erosion of constitutional principles that he sees at work in the government today. Robert C. Byrd served as third-in-line to the presidency of the United States for many years. Among his legislative responsibilities, he is the top democratic member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, the top democratic member of that panel’s Homeland Security Subcommittee, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, and co-chairman of the Senate National Security Working Group. Byrd’s books include the four-volume history of the Senate entitled, The Senate: 1789-1989, the first volume of which won the Henry Adams Prize of the Society for History in the Federal Government as “an outstanding contribution to research in the history of the Federal Government.”

+ BIO: Robert C. Byrd

Robert Carlyle Byrd is the senior United States Senator from West Virginia, and a member and former Senate Leader of the Democratic Party. Byrd has been a Senator since January 3, 1959 and is the longest-serving member in the Senate’s history. He is also the oldest current member of the United States Congress, and is the first politician in US history to serve as a US senator uninterrupted for half a century. Byrd is President pro tempore of the United States Senate, a position that puts him third in the line of presidential succession, behind Vice President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. He also held this post previously from 1989 to 1995, briefly in January 2001, and from June 2001 to January 2003. In this role, Sen. Byrd signs bills passed by Congress before they are sent to the president to be signed into law or vetoed. Byrd holds a wide variation of both liberal and conservative political views. A lifelong Democrat, Byrd did not leave the party as its views shifted from social conservatism to social liberalism, as his views on race changed over time as well. He has also held many leadership positions: Senate Conference Secretary, Majority Whip and twice Majority Leader. He is the only former party leader currently in the Senate.

+ BIO: Edward Kennedy

Edward M. Kennedy was the third longest-serving member of the United States Senate in American history. Voters of Massachusetts elected him to the Senate nine times: a record matched by only one other Senator. The scholar Thomas Mann said his time in the Senate was “an amazing and endurable presence. You want to go back to the 19th century to find parallels, but you won’t find parallels.” President Barak Obama has described his breathtaking span of accomplishment: “For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health, and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.” He fought for and won battles on voting rights, education, immigration reform, the minimum wage, national service, the nation’s first major legislation to combat AIDS, and equality for minorities, women, the disabled and gay Americans. He called health care “the cause of my life”, and succeeded in bringing quality and affordable health care for countless Americans, including children, seniors and Americans with disabilities. Until the end he was working tirelessly to achieve historic national health reform. He was an opponent of the Vietnam War and an early champion of the war’s refugees. He was a powerful yet lonely voice from the beginning against the invasion of Iraq. He stood for human rights abroad (from Chile to the former Soviet Union) and was a leader in the cause of poverty relief for the poorest nations of Africa and the world. He believed in a strong national defense and he also unceasingly pursued and advanced the work of nuclear arms control. He was considered the conscience of his party, and also the Senate’s master of forging compromise with the other party. Known as the ‘Lion of the Senate’, Senator Kennedy was widely respected on both sides of the aisle for his commitment to progress and his ability to legislate. Senator Kennedy was Chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee. Previously he was Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and served on that committee for many years. He also served on the Senate Armed Services Committee and the Congressional Joint Economic Committee. He was a leader of the Congressional Friends of Ireland and helped lead the way toward peace on that island. He was a graduate of Harvard University and the University of Virginia Law School. He lived in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, with his wife Vicki. He is survived by her and their five children Kara, Edward Jr., and Patrick Kennedy, and Curran and Caroline Raclin, and his sister Jean Kennedy Smith

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