YOU HAD TO WONDER when the Democrats would ever figure out that Sen. Harry F. Byrd Jr. of Virginia isn't exactly the life of their party. But delegates to the midterm convention in Memphis apparently have caught on to the political ruse that Mr. Byrd has been pulling off all these years, in which he enjoys the best of two worlds. In the Senate, he gets himself received as a card-carrying member of the Democratic Party-with all the privileges, credentials and seniority of the majority party that he consistently works to undo all the rest of the time. And in Virginia, he presents himself as an "independent"-running against Democrats while collecting funds from Democratic Party organizations.
So, a good 13 years into his membership in the Senate, the Democrats in Memphis agreed that he should be deprived of his standing within the Senate Democratic caucus. The catch in this, of course, is that the decision to reward Mr. Byrd with party seniority, powers and benefits isn't made by delegates in Memphis, but by Senate Democrats-who either haven't cared or didn't realize that he takes up committee assignments that others in their number might enjoy having. They may fall once again for Mr. Byrd's political sleight-of-hand. But if at last they do vote to strip him of all party favors, Virginia needn't worry about losing much influence in the Senate: Given Sen. Byrd's low legislative profile, the state shouldn't suffer a bit.