When he finally hung up his spurs in 2001 many in the media downplayed his racism and other nastiness and I suppose this will be even more certain on his passing. Speaking ill of the dead might be poor form and yet he represented so much that was wrong about his "hard edged conservatism".
Betty Bowers has a revealing summary of some of his quotes. In 1995 Eric Bates of MoJo provided What you Need to Know about Jesse Helms. Like politicians such as Alabama's own George Wallace (and certainly consultants like Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, ...)Jesse Helms knew the power of divisiveness. He wasn't about focus groups and centrism but rather boldness. He won elections. Perhaps Progressives could still learn a thing or two from his playbook? John Gunn
UPDATE ~ Noonish on July 5, 2008 - With a tip of the tam to Thomason Tracts I'll send you to to Jesse Helms: American Garbage from Ken Layne who describes Senator Helms as "a hero to bigots and the cigarette corporations". One of his best portions follows:
Once in Washington, Dixiecrat Helms became the new, stupid face of the Republican Party, the party that left behind intellectualism and civil rights and took up the Southern Strategy of pandering to bitter white losers while actively working against that same white working class. Helms was the perfect hack, the kind of lifelong fraud who made his career on the ignorant resentments of the same people he screwed so hard by always representing the mill owners and the tobacco corporations.