The Magazine

Still at the Helm

North Carolina's beloved former senator continues to fight the good fight.

Sep 5, 2005, Vol. 10, No. 47 • By FRED BARNES
Widget tooltip
Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

This week, Helms is to tape a special message for churches on the AIDS scourge, which he calls "a crisis that threatens to destroy entire populations in Africa." He asks, in his prepared remarks, what can Christians do? "First, resist the urge to turn away . . . .Remember Jesus' words to his disciples. When you care for the least of these, you care for me."

In his reflections, Helms is both kind and tough, just as he was as a senator. He strains to be positive about his political foes. In his memoir, he calls Edwards "a personable fellow." Of Jimmy Carter, he writes that "neither of us wanted anything but good for our citizens." Of course Helms reveres Ronald Reagan and praises George W. Bush for thwarting terrorists, post-9/11, and taking up the cause of democracy around the world.

Helms saves his tough talk for the mainstream media. He chuckles at formulas worked out by political reporters that showed he couldn't possibly win a statewide election, particularly in 1984 when he faced popular Democratic governor Jim Hunt. Helms says he almost began to believe the formulas. As it turned out, he never lost an election.

"How can the major media be so wrong so often?" Helms asks in his book. "The answer is obvious. They are profoundly out of sympathy with the ideals and goals of the American people . . . .The elite media--and you know who you are--are overwhelmingly produced by men and women who certainly have a smug contempt for American ideals and principles . . . .The major media automatically blame America first." Helms is thrilled by the arrival of the Internet as an alternative source of news. "Anyone who really wants the facts can find them on the Internet--24 hours a day."

As publication of his memoir neared, Helms was faced with a temptation. His publisher wanted to delay publication until this fall and have its release kicked off by an interview on 60 Minutes with Dan Rather. To this idea, Helms, his wife, and his staff all responded with a hearty no.

Fred Barnes is executive editor of The Weekly Standard.