'Too Old' Byrd to Critics: Shut Up!

Senator, 90, flexes muscle at hearing
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 17, 2008 2:40 AM CDT
Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va. walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, March 13, 2008.    (AP Photo/Lauren Victoria Burke)
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(Newser) – History's longest-serving senator has two words for people who think he's no longer up to the job of chairing the powerful Senate Appropriations Committee: "Shut up." Democrat Robert Byrd, 90, has been hospitalized twice this year but his management of a two-hour hearing on Iraq war spending yesterday apparently silenced his critics, the Hill reports.

Byrd is physically frail but was in complete command of his faculties during the hearing, and sharply criticized the president's handling of the war. Colleagues praised his performance and slammed reporters for paying "macabre" attention to Byrd  because of his age. "This ought to stop,” said Majority Leader Dick Durbin. “This poor man is working himself as hard as he can, and all you can do is kind of boil the pot a little.”