If you were born after 1980 you probably will have only vague memories of United States Senator Jesse Helms. Some of you may only have heard of his name (for this group, that means in some lefty meat-grinding blog, The Nation magazine, Mother Jones, or The New Republic).
I have commented a lot lately, here and elsewhere, about the differences between political conservatives and philosophical conservatives...the latter being "authentic." Jesse Helms was the last of his breed where those two worlds, politics and philosophy, met. He and RR were the last of this ilk.
My Capitol Hill career was on the House side. But I did get to work with Senator Helms and his staff. He was inspirational to a young conservative back then. He had courage. He was a hero to many of us idealists.
There was plenty of stereotype in him to make fun of...hard southern drawl, jowls, thick glasses. But he was one tough SOB...principled, verbose, plain. And he was kind.
Today's politicians are not even half the man Senator Helms was. I was privileged to work for the two of the most conservative members of the House (probably ever). There are not many other Representatives or Senators I would have worked for -- Jesse Helms was one of them.