Jesse Helms, R.I.P.

Former North Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms passed away early this morning. Robert Bluey of the Heritage Blog has the story:

Conservative Sen. Jesse Helms, 86, a truly great American and champion of freedom, died at 1:18 a.m. today. Helms, who gave our country three decades of service as a U.S. senator from North Carolina, was ill in recent years.

Heritage President Ed Feulner presented Helms in 2002 with the Clare Boothe Luce Award, Heritage's highest honor, calling him a "dedicated, unflinching and articulate advocate of conservative policy and principle."

Yes, he was all of that and more. He was anti-Communist during a time when it was politically unpopular and the people in Captive Nations had no greater champion in their struggle against tyranny.

I met Senator Helms many times when I worked in Washington. More than almost any lawmaker in Washington during the Reagan years, he was willing to meet with young people interested in politics and policy. A true southern gentlemen with courtly manners and a warm heart, Helms was a geniune, personable lawmaker who could deliver a stemwinder of a speech at the drop of a hat.

But I always thought Helms was a man out of time - a southerner from a different era who struggled mightily with his prejudices and, I believe, overcame them. Like George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, he changed with the times while keeping one foot firmly planted in the past.

His senate office was a study in diversity which garnered him no points with his enemies. Eventually, even the African Americans in his state somewhat warmed to him thanks to his efforts to make the lives of all NC citizens better.

The national press and the left in general however, vouchsafed him nothing. Once a bigot always a bigot in their view and Helms was tarred as a race baiting demogogue for his entire career. It was unfair of them and Helms returned their contempt with a vengeful hate that only sent them into new paroxysms of deunciation.

They are mourning in North Carolina today, the New York Times and the rest of the liberals be damned. I too am mourning this complex man who went out of his way to make a young man feel that he was part of something important - the great conservative efforts to reform government during the Reagan years.
Former North Carolina Republican Senator Jesse Helms passed away early this morning. Robert Bluey of the Heritage Blog has the story:

Conservative Sen. Jesse Helms, 86, a truly great American and champion of freedom, died at 1:18 a.m. today. Helms, who gave our country three decades of service as a U.S. senator from North Carolina, was ill in recent years.

Heritage President Ed Feulner presented Helms in 2002 with the Clare Boothe Luce Award, Heritage's highest honor, calling him a "dedicated, unflinching and articulate advocate of conservative policy and principle."

Yes, he was all of that and more. He was anti-Communist during a time when it was politically unpopular and the people in Captive Nations had no greater champion in their struggle against tyranny.

I met Senator Helms many times when I worked in Washington. More than almost any lawmaker in Washington during the Reagan years, he was willing to meet with young people interested in politics and policy. A true southern gentlemen with courtly manners and a warm heart, Helms was a geniune, personable lawmaker who could deliver a stemwinder of a speech at the drop of a hat.

But I always thought Helms was a man out of time - a southerner from a different era who struggled mightily with his prejudices and, I believe, overcame them. Like George Wallace and Strom Thurmond, he changed with the times while keeping one foot firmly planted in the past.

His senate office was a study in diversity which garnered him no points with his enemies. Eventually, even the African Americans in his state somewhat warmed to him thanks to his efforts to make the lives of all NC citizens better.

The national press and the left in general however, vouchsafed him nothing. Once a bigot always a bigot in their view and Helms was tarred as a race baiting demogogue for his entire career. It was unfair of them and Helms returned their contempt with a vengeful hate that only sent them into new paroxysms of deunciation.

They are mourning in North Carolina today, the New York Times and the rest of the liberals be damned. I too am mourning this complex man who went out of his way to make a young man feel that he was part of something important - the great conservative efforts to reform government during the Reagan years.