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 May, 2008


 Former Klansman Robert Byrd Endorses Barack Obama

Hail, Hail The Klan’s All Here
By Al Owens

Few presidential campaign developments knock me off my feet these days. But the other day, something did just that.

That’s when, in my tireless daily online search for the latest superdelegate endorsements - I found one for Barack Obama, from Cornelius Calvin Sale, Jr.

Wonders never cease, I thought.

Sale, a former Exalted Cyclops of a local branch of a West Virginia chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, heartily announced he’s throwing his support behind the nation’s first serious black candidate for president of the United States of America.

Sale had once been so against integrating the nation’s military, he once wrote, “Rather I should die a thousand times, and see Old Glory trampled in the dirt never to rise again, than to see this beloved land of ours become degraded by race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds.”

He’s now had, well, a chance of heart. He’s supporting a black man who just may, after January, run the U.S. military.

A long time ago, Sale also held the distinction of being the only U.S. Senator to vote against the only two black Supreme Court justices, Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. When the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was about to be voted on in the U.S. Senate, Sale not only voted against he – he led the filibuster to prevent it from getting voted on to begin with.

Oh, but the times they do change. Just like Sale’s name. He no longer uses that name. He now goes by the name Robert Byrd. He just happens to be the longest serving U.S. Senator in history.

Byrd wants everybody to know he’s passionate about his support for Obama.

What’s next? Will Bill Gates get caught shoplifting? Will Al Sharpton open the Harlem office of the Neo-Nazi Party?

These are indeed interesting times. Especially since Byrd has frequently been the symbol of Democratic hypocrisy in the area of race relations – according to some Republicans. (Those are usually the same Republicans who keep reminding us theirs is the party of Lincoln. In reality, it’s the party that DRIVES Lincolns)

But Byrd no longer has that cross to bear – both literally and figuratively. He abandoned the Klan many years ago. And he’s since publicly admitted he’d been wrong for ever joining it.

He’s now an Obama man. "I believe that Barack Obama is a shining young statesman, who possesses the personal temperament and courage necessary to extricate our country from this costly misadventure in Iraq, and to lead our nation at this challenging time in history," Byrd said in his glowing letter of support.

That’s mighty high praise, since Obama lost in Byrd’s West Virginia by 41 points. And especially since Byrd, himself, is the third in line of presidential succession, since he’s president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate.

Byrd, who was born in November of 1917, was serving in the Senate before eight of his fellow Senators, including Obama, were born.

In fact, while some people like to make those silly jokes John McCain, Byrd is old enough to be McCain’s father. (McCain is 19 years younger than Byrd)

I guess I shouldn’t make too much of Byrd’s endorsement of Obama. He may not even remember it himself - when he wakes up.

Last week, former presidential and vice-presidential candidate John Edwards threw his weight behind Obama.

This week, it’s an ex-Ku Klux Klansman, current superdelegate.
Next week Mars weighs in.

By November, everybody in North America, except the Clintons may hold a new conferences, to say, “Yeah, me too.”

Obama must be having a great time of it just adding up his popular vote, delegate, superdelegate, states won and even U.S. Senator endorsement lead.

But you can be sure hardly any of those numbers can be as sweet as getting a thumbs up from a guy who once thought he should “stay in his place.”

That guy now has the support of a man who feels his rightful place should be 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Washington D.C.

I never thought I’d see the day…