Saturday, July 5, 2008

Senator Jesse Helms, 1921-2008. R.I.P.

I was walking in Times Square yesterday when I learned that Senator Jesse Helms had died at the age of 86.   He might very well have been the one conservative who riled liberals more than anyone including Reagan, Bush 43 and Gingrich.

I must admit there were many times I found myself at odds with Senator Helms and occasionally agreed with his critics.   But believe it or not he did have an open mind.   When he first came to the Senate, he was not sympathetic to Israel.  But his time with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee he came to realize its struggles and strategic value to the United States.

Although Helms was known for his opposition to AIDs funding he did soften his views somewhat due to his relationship with U2 lead singer Bono and Helms became an outspoken advocate for AIDs funding in Africa where it is most acutely needed.  

He might have had a crusty exterior but he did have a heart.

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