The Wall Street Journal devotes an editorial to the man and it is richly deserved:
Helms was best known as the five-term North Carolina Senator who drove liberals crazy before his retirement in 2002. But his most important role in history arguably took place in 1976, when he and political ally Tom Ellis helped to resurrect Ronald Reagan's fading run for President.As Little Green Footballs shows in his links to the Daily Kos (too nauseating for me to link directly) the Left is still screeching its hatred. They might pretend that it is all about him opposing things like gay rights or having a chequered record on race relations but what the Left cannot forgive is opposition to Communism and big government. On the first of those, see Richard Nixon's career, passim. Had he not been the one man on HUAC who insisted that Whittaker Chambers's evidence must be checked out, the whole story of Alger Hiss's (and Donald Hiss's and many others') betrayal might not have come to light. On the other hand the political and media establishment would not have hated him so much.
Hey, I told you I was going to take advantage of the boss's absence. Anyway, back to Jesse Helms. Not only did the man fight Communism and opposed any notion of detente, a.k.a. surrender to the forces of darkness, he took on other institutions.
As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Helms also tried to reform the United Nations and other multinational bodies, to the extent that is possible. His purpose was to hold those institutions accountable to their own professed principles, which made him unpopular with elites but served U.S. interests. In 2000, he became the first Senator to address the Security Council. His tenacity on this score is missed in today's Senate, all the more so given the blind eye to corruption at both the U.N. and World Bank.Hear, hear on that last point. His tenacity in the Senate is missed on many scores. Do you get the feeling that I might be something of an admirer?
There were other issues that one might disagree on with Senator Helms - he was a protectionist and often an old-fashioned demagogue (and no, I don't like that - there has been too much trouble from the real demagogues in the last century). He was not a racist or no more than many people but opposed affirmative action and forced busing, the latter of which having been abandoned some time ago while the former is criticize on all sides.
John Fund in this article gives a trenchant analysis of that thorny issue. Mind you, opposing yet another holiday for the public sector and calling it Martin Luther King Day can be viewed in various ways. Some of Senator Helms's other opinions might make one pause though his opposition to public funding of the arts strikes a chord with many of us. (Mind you, not when I see a really superior production by the Royal Shakespeare Company.)
The piece ends with a very useful reminder to all of us who call ourselves conservative:
It was Helms who first sent his own foreign policy advisers overseas to second-guess the executive branch's foreign policy. Many liberals have no qualms in doing the same today. One liberal consultant told me he learned from Helms's ability to distill complicated ideas to a level that connected with ordinary people. His mastery of new media techniques and technology convinced many liberals they had to invest in the Internet and build up the passions of theirHere is a short piece about Senator Helms on Dirty Harry's Place together with a slightly unexpected picture. Can you guess who is the other guy in it? No, not in the one I published above.
Jesse Helms was a major influence on American conservatism, but his career provides a blueprint for anyone who represents an embattled minority viewpoint. You can, with persistence and unflinching determination, change the political odds in your favor.
Another interesting post (one of many on the American blogosphere) by Rick Moran. The comments are worth reading as well.