Putting aside the problematic aspects of Robert Byrd's legacy, many are properly focusing on the strong and compelling case he made against the Iraq War and against Bush's rough handling of the Constitution.
But what's important about this aspect of Byrd's legacy is not just what he said, but when he said it. His stance against the Iraq War came at a time when many other Democrats, cowed by Bush's swaggering popularity, were too meek and frightened to say the same thing -- even though they undoubtedly agreed with the late Senator.
Byrd's stand against the Iraq invasion is not just a testament to his own courage. It's also a testament to the cowardice of other members of his party at an absolutely critical moment -- an epic cave that may have altered the course of history and should never be forgotten.
I'd add that this is why the right hated Byrd and why you won't find an obit in the rightwing blogosphere today that doesn't mention his one-time association with the KKK. If the right gave a damn about racism, they'd attack the unrepentant racists in their own party and give the repentant a break. And Byrd was repentant -- he endorsed Barack Obama for the presidency.
No, Senator Robert Byrd stood up to Bush when no one else would and that's why the right won't forgive him. Never mind that Byrd turned out to be correct, it's a matter of grudge-holding -- the right never lets go of anything and, if you were declared evil once by rightwing talk radio, you are evil forever. Long after the propaganda value of that hate as faded, the hate itself remains. Because that's just what they do.
R.I.P., Senator Robert Byrd, whose unforgivable crime was in being one of the few people in congress with the courage to be right.