Saturday, July 05, 2008

Jesse Helms, RIP

Senator Jesse Helms was an unapologetic, no-nonsense lion of the Conservative movement, and his passing yesterday --- appropriately enough, for such a champion of liberty, on Independence Day --- will be keenly felt by generations of Conservatives. We heard the news as we were traveling to the annual Conservative Soiree at Bull Run Regional Park.

While a long-time friend of the Right to Work movement, I had only two occasions to have any interaction with the Senator from North Carolina.

The first was back in the summer of 1984, when I was interning for Congressman George W. Gekas (R-PA). I had just attended a reception on the Hill. It was a "Free China" reception, held by Conservative Senators and Members of Congress in response to a reception for athletes from Communist China.

In any case, as I was leaving, I happened to run into Senator Helms (who had attended) and joined a group of other interns who were chatting with him. It wasn't a long conversation, but it was less than a year after the liberation of Grenada, which caused a firestorm among the media because they weren't allowed to accompany the troops. Someone else, knowing of Senator Helms' history as an award-winning journalist, asked him what he thought of the controversy.

I'll always remember his humorous, almost impish response, delivered in a wonderful Southern accent. He paused, and then offered "Well, Ah think it woulda been sportin' to send them in first!"


The other was a few years later, on a professional level, when the Senator retained me to represent him in a lawsuit challenging a Clinton Executive Order attempting to debar Federal contractors who dared to exercise their rights under the National Labor Relations Act to replace permanently strikers in an economic strike (for higher wages and/or benefits). While it was ultimately determined that only those Members of the House who retained me had a claim, and we never filed suit on Senator Helms' behalf, I was alway flattered that a Conservative hero had retained my services.

He is and will be missed.

Resquiat in pacem.

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