When one surveys the present crop of United States Senators, it is obvious that that body no longer provides the melodrama on Capitol Hill. During the 1930’s, the Senators, particularly those from the Southern states, outdid themselves in colourful language, plantation owner attire, complete with wide brimmed Panama hats, and a cold-blooded approach to political dominance which has not been seen since they vanished like the dinosaurs of old. Today, we have such creatures as Senator Metzenbaum of Ohio, making $300,000 deals over his office phone, his colleague, Senator-Glenn, still reeling from the after effects of his trips through outer space, and, in the historic State of Virginia, Senator Warner, who parlayed his advantage of being born into a good family by marrying two of the wealthiest women in the United States.
In the 1930’s, no one in the United States Senate more successfully wielded political power than Senator Harry Byrd, the senior Senator from Virginia. His career on Capitol Hill remains the how to-do-it Bible for would-be politicians, even though no one today has either the temerity or the ruthlessness to follow in his footsteps.
From the very outset of his career, Harry Byrd knew where the power lay, and he went after it. In reviewing his personal history, one finds few mistakes, despite flaws of personality which effectively prevented him from attaining the supreme prize, one which was often near his grasp, the office of President of the United States.