Jesse Helms Dies at 86


Early on, his habit of blocking nominations and legislation won him a nickname of “Senator No.” He delighted in forcing roll call votes that required Democrats to take politically difficult votes on federal funding for art he deemed pornographic, school busing, flag-burning and other cultural issues.

In 1993, when then-President Clinton sought confirmation for an openly homosexual assistant secretary at the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Helms registered his disgust. “I’m not going to put a lesbian in a position like that,” he said in a newspaper interview at the time. “If you want to call me a bigot, fine.”

After Democrats killed the appointment of U.S. District Judge Terrence Boyle, a former Helms aide, to a federal appeals court post in 1991, Helms blocked all of Clinton’s judicial nominations from North Carolina for eight years.

Helms occasionally opted for compromise in later years in the Senate, working with Democrats on legislation to restructure the foreign policy bureaucracy and pay back debts to the United Nations, an organization be disdained for most of his career.

And he softened his views on AIDS after years of clashes with gay activists, advocating greater federal funding to fight the disease in Africa and elsewhere overseas.


12 thoughts on “Jesse Helms Dies at 86

  1. Once again, the genius of Moms Mabley applies:
    They say you shouldn’t say nothin’ about the dead unless it’s good:
    He’s dead. Good!

  2. ThisGuardian obituary is awesome. I found it linked from a comment over at BoingBoing.

  3. I have a bottle of good scotch to bury with the Senator.
    I would have to strain it through my kidneys first.

  4. It reminds me we all will pass, and hopefully with enemies. Those with out enemies strike me as those who never took a stand. Unfortunately the same will be said coming from the right upon Kennedy’s passing.

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