The following this morning at newsobserver.com:
Former U.S. Sen. Jesse A. Helms, the son of a Monroe police chief who rose to national prominence as one of the leading lions of the American right, died early this morning. He was 86.
During a political career that began with his election to the Raleigh City Council in the late 1950s and included 30 years in the U.S. Senate, Jesse Alexander Helms endeared himself to conservatives throughout the country.
Helms became known as “Senator No” for his constant battles against everything from increased government spending to civil rights legislation to communism to the National Endowment for the Arts. Helms was even willing to wage war against fellow Republicans if he felt they were straying from the conservative agenda, particularly in the area of foreign policy.
But as beloved as he was by conservatives, many of whom became part of his potent political organization, Helms was a lightning rod for criticism from liberals and moderates. Whenever Helms was up for re-election, liberals from throughout the country poured money into the campaign of his Democratic opponent.
Helms was once called the “Prince of Darkness” by the chairman of the national Democratic Party.
“Whether you liked his politics or not, he was a national force able to deliver for his constituents," Gov. Mike Easley said in a statement. "We last appeared together when the Navy named a submarine after North Carolina at his request. He certainly didn’t shy from controversy and you always knew what his positions were. Whether we were working together to stop international drug trafficking or opposing each other on the campaign trail, he was always a gentleman to me.”
Personally, Helms could be the picture of the courtly Southern gentleman and entertain guests with stories of his past. Despite his many years in Washington, Helms avoided the social scene so endemic to the nation’s capitol. Instead, he preferred quiet evenings at home with Dorothy.
But Helms also could be cantankerous, particularly with the reporters who worked for the newspapers and television stations that Helms often criticized as pushing a liberal agenda. He was sometimes accused by other senators, including those in his own party, of being obstructionist and mean-spirited. …
While he went on to become a vocal critic of The News & Observer throughout his political career, Helms did find something he liked at the newspaper. While working at the N&O, Helms met Dorothy Coble, editor of the society page. They were married in 1942. …
The entire N&O report’s here.
The N&O's story is as much a political attack as a report on the public man's death.
What follows is a comment I tried to leave at the end of the story but I encounted technical difficulties. I'll comment further on the N&O story tonight.
You say Sen. Helms while employed at the N&O found "something" he liked there: Dorothy Coble whom he'd marry.
Instead of "something," you should have said "someone."
Now about liberal Democrat reporter Rob Christensen comment that: " But Helms also could be cantankerous, particularly with the reporters who worked for the newspapers and television stations that Helms often criticized as pushing a liberal agenda.
He was sometimes accused by other senators, including those in his own party, of being obstructionist and mean-spirited."
Helms treated honest, able reporters very well. Those reporters liked him even when they disagreed with his politics.
But Helms was also quick to confront reporters who'd reported falsely and demand they correct. Reporter Christensen may call that "cantankerous," but fair-minded citizens call it "setting the record straight."
As for Senator Helms being considered “mean-spirited," many of his political opponents, including those at the N&O, felt that way just as many people think Senator Obama was mean-spirited to belittle people Obama said cling to guns and their religion because those people are, according to Obama, "bitter."
In my own encounters with the Senator, whose policies I often opposed, he was a gentleman and a straight-from-the-shoulder person who let me know what he was thinking and what he thought of what I was saying.
Like any of us he was sometimes wrong. But he did much good and always looked out for America, even when doing so upset a lot of people.
I express my sympathy to his wife Dorothy, his family, friends, and the legions of ordinary citizens he helped throughout his life who grieve his loss while the N&O works snide digs into its story reporting his death.
John in Carolina
PS - Senator Helms wouldn't have been surprised at the way the N&O reported his death.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
The following this morning at newsobserver.com:
Posted by JWM at 2:14 PM