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NY Times Dances On Jesse Helms’ Grave

From the New York Times:

Jesse Helms, Conservative Force in the Senate, Dies at 86

By STEVEN A. HOLMES
Published: July 5, 2008

Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator whose courtly manner and mossy drawl barely masked a hard-edged conservatism that opposed civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art, died early Friday. He was 86.

Mr. Helms’s former chief of staff, Jimmy Broughton, told The Associated Press that the former senator died of natural causes in Raleigh.

In a 52-year political career that ended with his retirement from the Senate in 2002, Mr. Helms became a beacon for the right wing of American politics, a lightning rod for the left, and, often, a mighty pain for Presidents whatever their political leaning…

“I didn’t come to Washington to be a yes man for any President, Democrat or Republican,” he said in an interview in 1989. “I didn’t come to Washington to get along and win any popularity contests.” …

He liked his art uncomplicated.

“The self-proclaimed, self-anointed art experts would scoff and say, ‘Oooh, terrible,’ but I like beautiful things, not modern art,” he told The New York Times in 1989, during a pitched battle over federal subsidies to the arts. “I can’t even figure out that sculpture in the Hart Building.” He was referring to an Alexander Calder mobile.

In the 1980’s he took on the National Endowment for the Arts for subsidizing art that he found offensive, chiefly that of the homosexual photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and of the artist Andres Serrano over his depiction of a crucifix submerged in urine. He later led an ill-fated attempt to take over CBS, exhorting conservatives to buy up stock in order to stop what he saw as a liberal bias in its news reporting.

He was also well known for holding up votes on treaties and appointments to win a point. His willingness to block the business of the Senate or the will of Presidents earned him the sobriquet “Senator No” — a label he relished.

In campaigns and in the Senate, Mr. Helms stood out in both his words and his tactics.

He fought bitterly against Federal aid for AIDS research and treatment, saying the disease resulted from “unnatural” and “disgusting” homosexual behavior.

“Nothing positive happened to Sodom and Gomorrah,” he said, “and nothing positive is likely to happen to America if our people succumb to the drumbeats of support for the homosexual lifestyle.” …

Trailing in a tough re-election fight in 1990 against a black opponent, Harvey Gantt, the former mayor of Charlotte, Mr. Helms unveiled a nakedly racial campaign ad in which a pair of hands belonging to a white job-seeker crumpled a rejection slip as an announcer explained that the job had been given to an unqualified member of a minority. Mr. Helms went on to victory

His bruising style and right-wing politics won him many friends in his home state and across the nation, but he also created a legion of enemies. Millions of dollars were raised outside North Carolina both from those who flocked to his ideological banner and from those who ached to see him defeated. He never won more than 55 percent of the vote in five campaigns for the Senate.

“He was a very polarizing politician,” said Ferrell Guillory, a veteran North Carolina journalist. “He was not a consensus builder. He didn’t want everybody to vote for him. He just wanted enough.”

For Mr. Helms, the orderliness of the small town even encompassed racial segregation; as a child, he saw it not as a great evil but as an accepted part of his world. Mr. Helms always insisted that journalism had been his first choice for a career.

In 1970 he switched his party registration to Republican from Democrat. Two years later, he upset the favorite by a convincing 120,000 votes to win a Senate seat…

The New York Times once again puts the ‘bitch’ in obituary.

But we can understand their petulance.

For on top of being a stellar conservative, Mr. Helms was both a former journalist and (perforce) a former Democrat.

So he was a double apostate in the eyes of the Solons at The Times.

But really, what could be more flattering than to receive such a negative review of ones life from the New York Times?

What an exquisite tribute to a life well lived.

And for further consolation, Mr. Helms did die on the Fourth of July. He thereby joins other great patriots like Jefferson and Adams — who both died on July 4, 1826, the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, July 4th, 2008. Comments are currently closed.

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