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Righteous warrior : Jesse Helms and the rise of modern conservatism /
William A. Link.
edition
1st ed.
imprint
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2008.
description
xi, 643 p.
ISBN
0312356005, 9780312356002
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
New York : St. Martin's Press, 2008.
isbn
0312356005
9780312356002
catalogue key
6363174
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Excerpt from Book
Prologue Although Jesse had earned a fearsome reputation for his slash-and-burn political tactics, there was also a softer side. Within his political circle, Helms was compassionate and caring; his Senate staffers uniformly remembered him warmly. By the late 1980s, Helms was well known for his personal style and his conscious rejection of the imperiousness of some of his colleagues. In 1998, when the Washingtonian surveyed 1,200 staffers and Capitol Hill employees, Jesse was rated among the nicest senators.1 Garrett Epps, a columnist for the liberal Independent Weekly, published in Durham, interviewed Helms in 1989. He was surprised at what he found. "The Helms I expected," he recalled, "was a sizzling-hot, angry, defensive ideologue." The person he found instead was "relaxed, friendly, funny and genuinely curious about ideas and people."2 Don Nickles, one of Helms's closest allies in the Senate, later reflected that the common caricatures of Helms as mean and vindictive were "misplaced." Nickles described him as "probably the nicest person serving in the Senate," certainly "the most gentlemanly of any of the senators," and a person who "epitomized the Southern gentleman." In his dealings with other senators he was "always very pleasant, never disagreeable." He was also unpretentious, according to Nickles. During Reagan's inauguration in January 1981, Nickles recalled, Helms objected when police stopped traffic so that a bus with senators could pass through.3 Helms' personal warmth extended beyond senators. The third floor of the Dirksen Office Building, where Jesse's Senate offices were located, contained two public elevators, which were old and slow, and three private elevators reserved only for senators. Staffers and visitors that snuck on the senators' elevator were routinely evicted. The public elevator, located just outside of Helms's office, was often crowded with tourists. If he noticed them waiting, Helms delighted in gathering tourists and taking them on the senators' elevator, or for a ride on the Senate subway shuttle that ran between Dirksen and the Capitol, even when votes were about to occur and the shuttle was reserved for senators. Sometimes, on the spur of the moment, Helms ushered tourists to the family gallery, on the third floor of the Senate, and provided seats for them to watch the proceedings. The Senate guards were so used to Jesse's routine with visitors that they often chuckled when they saw him coming with an entourage in tow. He considered himself a sort of unofficial host of Capitol Hill, and he personally felt that it was his duty to ensure that tourists enjoyed their visit.4 Helms was especially kind to children, and he liked nothing better than speaking to visiting schoolchildren. According to his own estimate, between 1973 and the mid-1990s, he visited with some 60,000 children from North Carolina. He sometimes disappeared, and staffers would later discover him with a group of children. To "countless small children who have visited the Capitol with their parents," wrote a New York Times reporter in 1987, he was "simply the friendly man who let them pretend to drive the Senate subway train." Once Helms gathered up one little girl, seven-year-old Lindsay Rogers of Denver, asking her: "How would you like to sit in the driver's seat?" Like many other children, he put Lindsay at the controls of the subway, which ran automatically. In 1987, he received a letter from a college student who remembered similar treatment when his sixth-grade class visited Washington, and the Senator let him "drive" the subway.5 Helms was also kno
First Chapter
Prologue

Although Jesse had earned a fearsome reputation for his slash-and-burn political tactics, there was also a softer side. Within his political circle, Helms was compassionate and caring; his Senate staffers uniformly remembered him warmly. By the late 1980s, Helms was well known for his personal style and his conscious rejection of the imperiousness of some of his colleagues. In 1998, when the Washingtonian surveyed 1,200 staffers and Capitol Hill employees, Jesse was rated among the nicest senators.1 Garrett Epps, a columnist for the liberal Independent Weekly, published in Durham, interviewed Helms in 1989. He was surprised at what he found. “The Helms I expected,” he recalled, “was a sizzling-hot, angry, defensive ideologue.” The person he found instead was “relaxed, friendly, funny and genuinely curious about ideas and people.”2 Don Nickles, one of Helms’s closest allies in the Senate, later reflected that the common caricatures of Helms as mean and vindictive were “misplaced.” Nickles described him as “probably the nicest person serving in the Senate,” certainly “the most gentlemanly of any of the senators,” and a person who “epitomized the Southern gentleman.” In his dealings with other senators he was “always very pleasant, never disagreeable.” He was also unpretentious, according to Nickles. During Reagan’s inauguration in January 1981, Nickles recalled, Helms objected when police stopped traffic so that a bus with senators could pass through.3

Helms’ personal warmth extended beyond senators. The third floor of the Dirksen Office Building, where Jesse’s Senate offices were located, contained two public elevators, which were old and slow, and three private elevators reserved only for senators. Staffers and visitors that snuck on the senators’ elevator were routinely evicted. The public elevator, located just outside of Helms’s office, was often crowded with tourists. If he noticed them waiting, Helms delighted in gathering tourists and taking them on the senators’ elevator, or for a ride on the Senate subway shuttle that ran between Dirksen and the Capitol, even when votes were about to occur and the shuttle was reserved for senators. Sometimes, on the spur of the moment, Helms ushered tourists to the family gallery, on the third floor of the Senate, and provided seats for them to watch the proceedings. The Senate guards were so used to Jesse’s routine with visitors that they often chuckled when they saw him coming with an entourage in tow. He considered himself a sort of unofficial host of Capitol Hill, and he personally felt that it was his duty to ensure that tourists enjoyed their visit.4

Helms was especially kind to children, and he liked nothing better than speaking to visiting schoolchildren. According to his own estimate, between 1973 and the mid-1990s, he visited with some 60,000 children from North Carolina. He sometimes disappeared, and staffers would later discover him with a group of children. To “countless small children who have visited the Capitol with their parents,” wrote a New York Times reporter in 1987, he was “simply the friendly man who let them pretend to drive the Senate subway train.” Once Helms gathered up one little girl, seven-year-old Lindsay Rogers of Denver, asking her: “How would you like to sit in the driver’s seat?” Like many other children, he put Lindsay at the controls of the subway, which ran automatically. In 1987, he received a letter from a college student who remembered similar treatment when his sixth-grade class visited Washington, and the Senator let him “drive” the subway.5 Helms was also known for welcoming visitors into his office, especially visitors from North Carolina, and many of them were escorted to the Senate floor for a personal tour from the Senator. He loved seeing a “sparkle” in their eye, he recalled, when they received this sort of treatment from a United States senator. Once he hosted a student group while the president of Argentina was waiting to see him. When an aide interrupted him, he told her to visit with the Argentine. “What do you think I have you for?” he asked.6

Helms’s office was also known for unusual staff loyalty and dedication, despite low pay: the senator paid some of the lowest salaries on Capitol Hill, and he always made it a point to return money to the Congress. He scrupulously avoided excessive overseas travel himself; his staff traveled at private expense. Very often they made phone calls at their own expense because they realized how carefully he scrutinized the phone bills. But his staff was, nonetheless, fiercely loyal. Partly, staff loyalty came from ideological commitment, partly because of the personal bond they felt with the senator, who was warm and avuncular within his circle. He established warm, personal relationships with staffers. After aide Deborah DeMoss lost her father in 1986, Helms became a sort of surrogate father. When she became engaged to Honduran René Fonseca in 1992, Jesse insisted that he meet him in order to look him over. He spent half of a day, taking Fonseca around Washington. After the visit, the Senator informed DeMoss that he approved of the match. In many other instances, he reached out to staffers, keeping up with their health and the welfare of their families. According to DeMoss, Helms, on a personal level, was a “complete opposite” of his public image.

Helms’s office was known through Washington for its efficiency and responsiveness to constituents. Darryl Nirenberg, who served as Helms’s chief of staff between 1991 and 1995, described Jesse as a superb manager who would have made, Nirenberg thought, an excellent lawyer or small businessman. Jesse often mentored staffers by projecting high standards and expectations, by carefully editing their prose, and by permitting them to pursue initiatives on their own under his supervision. His standards included an impeccable ethical sense, and Helms could never be accused of crossing lines or seeking shortcuts. As a former journalist, Jesse took great pride in effective communication. He was a “fabulous writer,” Nirenberg recalled, and “nobody could write like him.” Helms exhibited an unusual work ethic, and he did not expect others to do things that he was unwilling to do; he personally involved himself in many issues.7

The senator made it a point to instruct staffers that solving constituents’ problems was the office’s primary mission; the first thing new staff were told was the need for responsiveness. He expected phone calls to be answered within an hour and all mail to be answered promptly; and periodically he checked up on things by investigating whether phone calls and mail were answered. Although most Senate offices did not treat mail in this careful fashion, Helms insisted on this level of service, and if problems remained unsolved, said one staffer, “we heard about it.” Mail consumed a large portion of the time of his entire staff; all of them worked on it, and unlike other Senate offices there were no legislative correspondents whose sole duty was the mail. Helms himself personally answered a large bulk of the correspendence, taking a stack of letters home with him at night and returning with typewritten drafts for his assistant to retype. Scott Wilson, who worked as a staffer in the early and mid-1980s, remembered that everyone in the office spent much of their time on mail; everyone had typewriters at their desk. One day Wilson was in the senator’s office and he suggested the need for additional staff support to handle the mail. “Well, son,” Helms responded, “if Friday afternoon gets here and you’ve got any left over, just bring it in, and I’ll take it home with me over the weekend and answer it.” Embarrassed, Wilson spent the weekend catching up with his mail. He was impressed with how the senator “never asked anybody to do anything that he wasn’t prepared to do.” Jesse considered the mail a vital lifeline to his constituents. “Some of the best ideas I got from back home,” he would later tell an interviewer, “came from the average working guy who saw a need and suggested it.” Staffers were constantly on the lookout for information and ideas that emerged from the large volume of constituent mail.8

Helms often took up causes of individuals, sometimes even individuals not from North Carolina, in cases as diverse as overseas property that was confiscated or efforts at foreign adoptions. Constituent services were “real important” to Helms, recalled his chief of staff Jimmy Broughton, and he instructed his staff to “never say no” to requests for help. It was his “second nature,” according to Broughton, “to help people.” Helms’s constituent services maintained state offices in Hickory, serving the western part of the state, and Raleigh, serving the eastern half, with Frances Jones coordinating eleven caseworkers. Broughton recalled one case of a Raleigh resident who lived near N.C. State who was having problems with Social Security in disposing of the estate of her husband. When things reached a dead end, a friend, a faculty member at N.C. State, advised her: “I hate the sonabitch, but it’s time to call Jesse Helms.” When Helms left the Senate in 2003, his successor, Elizabeth Dole, kept his constituent services operations intact.9
 

For most of his political career, Helms used the “liberal media” as a foil. Charging that the mainstream press was against him and other conservatives, he argued that he was unfairly portrayed and that liberals controlled most outlets of newspaper publishing and broadcasting. Interestingly, even while he attacked the liberal media, Jesse nurtured relationships with reporters, especially those from North Carolina who were reporting from Washington. He “got a kick out of speaking to reporters” because he enjoyed the banter, recalled staffer Scott Wilson, and the North Carolina reporters had to “run him down” in the hallways in order to get an interview. “If I told you everything I know,” Wilson recalled his telling one reporter, “then you’d know everything you know, plus everything I know.”10 John Monk, who covered Helms for the Charlotte Observer’s Washington bureau during the 1990s, later said that it was “hard not to like him.” Although he was not a “photogenic image of a politician,” he had an engaging personality with a voice that was “resonant and rich.” Once Monk visited Helms’s office to discover the senator singing happy birthday over the phone to an elderly woman in a nursing home. He was, recalled Monk, a “personable, kind person.” When Helms was “on,” said Monk, “no one could be more gracious and kind and decent.”11 In some respects, Helms even liked the abuse from the North Carolina media. On the wall of his Senate office, he kept framed newspaper cartoons, most of them unflattering.

Helms had less regard for the national media, and he felt little hesitation about refusing interviews or not returning their calls. Once, when a North Carolina newspaper reporter was in the senator’s office, an aide came in and told him that the New York Times was trying to reach him. “I don’t care,” he said. “I’m not talking to the New York Times.” This was typical: there was little to be gained by interacting with the national media. Most North Carolina print journalists covering Helms in the Senate found him accessible and friendly, and always what Chuck Babington, the N&O’s Washington correspondent in the late 1980s, called a “great source of news” and “my rainmaker.” For many years, Helms refused to hire a press secretary, which was unusual for Senate offices. Reporters often called Helms at his Arlington home, and he usually took their calls. Babington so often depended on Helms for stories that he sometimes felt that the relationship was too easy. “Chuck,” he told himself at the beginning of some days, “you are going to have do something other than Helms today.” Still, he remembered that Helms could be manipulative. He praised Babington for favorable stories, but on those occasions that he was displeased, Helms “would kind of pounce” in a phone call or letter. The ultimate effect “could have been that you were intimidated,” something that Babington resisted.12

Other reporters also experienced a different side to Helms. Most of them eventually discovered that the senator and his staff worked hard to manipulate the North Carolina press. John Monk later said that he was on-again, off-again in his relations with Helms. If he wrote a story that offended Helms or appeared to cast him in a bad light, he would be denied access for his “transgressions.” Access was the lifeblood of reporters, but Monk realized working in a Washington bureau for a major North Carolina daily made his job high-profile. All of his stories were faxed into Helms’s office after publication and carefully scrutinized. On occasions when he wrote stories that displeased Helms, the senator or his staff would get on the phone to complain to Monk’s Observer editors. In 1993, for example, when Monk wrote a story describing Helms’s staff as among the lowest paid in the Senate, Helms took offense. Monk wrote that Helms paid staff bonuses as compensation for low pay; Helms insisted that no such bonuses existed. He further believed that Monk had told staff members about their low pay, hoping to “cause problems among my staff members.” Helms became so furious, according to Monk, that he refused to take his phone calls for months.13

Reporters for the most important newspapers in the state, the N&O and the Charlotte Observer, were often singled out as purveyors of the liberal media. In eastern North Carolina, Helms complained to his audiences about bias in the N&O, in the west it was the Observer. But most of this was playing to his audience. During the 1984 campaign, Helms approached Ken Eudy before a rally at the Country Adventures Barbecue House in Hickory. The senator warned him that, in his speech, he would single out his presence as a Charlotte Observer reporter. “Don’t get upset,” he said, “don’t take it personal; it’s just politics.” But on other occasions, Eudy noted that Helms could be intimidating. He recalled that Helms’s press conferences on the campaign trail were usually held with reporters encircled by hostile Jesse supporters, and he sometimes felt “physically threatened.” Helms himself, at six foot two, had a presence and a way of wagging his finger at reporters. He was especially combative during the election season, when tensions and tempers were short. Bob Rosser, who traveled with the senator during the 1984 campaign, believed that Jesse was claustrophobic, and the press crush that followed often provoked him to lash out at reporters, especially if he believed that they were asking stupid questions. Still, Eudy remembered him as exceptionally skillful in anticipating and deflecting reporters’ questions.

On one occasion during the 1984 campaign, Eudy recalled, Reagan had visited the state aboard Air Force One; Helms rode with him from Washington. Eudy cornered Helms at a press conference in Shelby. The Helms campaign, he pointed out, had made much of the fact that Hunt traveled aboard state aircraft, at public expense, while campaigning. Helms then interrupted him. “I know what you’re getting ready to ask,” he said. “Should taxpayers pay for Ronald Reagan’s campaign travel?” Helms had “preempted” his question: now he proceeded to answer it. This was no double standard, he said. Reagan worked on behalf of national security; Hunt could make no such claim. Even if there was a double standard, it was acceptable because of the greater interest of the country. Eudy recalled this as yet another manifestation of Helms’s ability to manipulate the media.14

Helms had long used the N&O as a whipping boy for the liberal media. Its reporters were frequently singled out at political gatherings as representing a bastion of the liberal media, but he realized that the newspapers served as a political symbol. Babington recalled that Helms realized the difference between the highly partisan editorial page and the less political reporters, but he made no such distinction before political crowds. During the 1984 campaign, which Babington covered briefly at the end when he joined the N&O’s staff, he remembered that Helms would needle the newspapers only within their readership area. In the western Piedmont, he said nothing about News and Observer liberalism. Reporters served as a prop for Jesse, who, Babington thought, was “very clever” in his use of the symbolism of the liberal media.15

Jack Betts, who covered Helms for the Greensboro Daily News and the Charlotte Observer, provided another example of the senator’s complex relationship with print journalists. En route to a campaign appearance in March 1978, Helms told Betts that he intended to serve only two terms. Betts, who later described himself as stunned by this admission, told Jesse that he would write a story about it if he was serious about not running. “My inclination is to let ’er go,” Helms responded. “I could change my mind but I doubt that I will.” After political adviser Tom Ellis “hit the roof” over the interview, Betts wrote to Helms suggesting that perhaps he had not meant what he said and providing an opportunity for him to back off. Although Helms would later assert that “my intent was to make it as irrevocably unqualified as it apparently sounded,” Helms continued to insist that Betts had reported the interview accurately. But then Helms’s versions of events changed. In October 1979, after winning reelection to a second term, Helms told Gene Marlowe of the Winston-Salem Journal that he had written a reporter (Betts) to correct the story, but the correction never appeared in print. A day later, Helms told an N&O reporter that he had commented about not running in response to a question about term limits; he had said that he would abide by a constitutional amendment providing restricting time in office, but he had not ruled out running for a third term.

Soon after Helms announced that he would run for a third term, in February 1984, Betts revived the issue in a column entitled “Where Do You Stand, Jesse?” Reviewing Helms’s zigzagging about running for reelection, he suggested that Helms had been less than consistent about the issue. Helms’s inconsistency, Betts later observed, “seemed at odds with the general belief that Jesse Helms says what he means and means what he says.” About a week later, on February 21, 1984, Betts received a pointed letter from Clint Fuller. Helms had read Betts’s column, Fuller reported, and had stuck it in the outbox without a word. “He just shook his head,” Fuller wrote. Helms had been criticized by the media so often that he was not upset by the account. “But it did puzzle him,” Fuller explained, “because he has always liked you,” and Helms had often referred to him as a “fair and objective newspaperman.” Clearly, Betts had let him down. “Wonder why Jack didn’t at least ask me?,” Helms later said. “He didn’t even call.” Fuller suggested that Helms should stay to protect North Carolina tobacco farmers; without him at the Agriculture Committee, it was a “goner.” There were, as well, “other reasons” why Helms decided to run again, “but I’m not at liberty to discuss them.” Nonetheless, Fuller admitted that he was “not without prejudice when somebody lays the wood to my boss and our friend.” Reflecting on the episode, Betts later reflected that this was “when I learned Jesse was an equivocator.”16 Helms thoroughly understood modern media, and he was a master practitioner of employing the media to his political advantage. Most reporters saw him as a real person, beneath the stereotypical image that prevailed—and which, to a large extent, he had promoted. But this was, Betts observed, a “love-hate relationship.” In his experience, he found Helms’s “personal touch” compelling, and there were two or three instances in which Jesse reached out with some gesture that “touched me.” He was not, to be sure, a “one-dimensional character.”17
 

Copyright © 2008 by William A. Link. All rights reserved.
Reviews
Review Quotes
"Bill Link's masterful biography of Jesse Helms lays bare the roots of his conservative politics grounded in his white supremacist childhood and documents Helms's influence in shaping the course of national politics. Exhaustively researched and crisply written, Link proves Helms's importance to the Republican Party's southern strategy at home and his exportation of conservative southern values into U.S. foreign policy. This is fundamental reading for anyone interested in the rise of conservativism and politics in general in our time." -- Glenda Gilmore, Peter V. And C. Van Woodward Professor of History, Yale University "Professor Link's fascinating political biography of Jesse Helms is also an authoritative study of the rise of the New Right. Through Helms's career, we see the knitting together of the various strands of conservatism that account for Ronald Reagan's triumph in 1980, the Republican Party's Congressional revolution of 1994, and much else. Vivid characters and important issues fill the pages of 'Righteous Warrior,' and the reader is eager to keep turning those pages."-- Sheldon Hackney, Boies Professor of US History, University of Pennsylvania "Historian William Link captures in this incisive biography the complexity of Jesse Helmsa personally kind and charitable man who supported racial segregation; an affable and principled politician who played hard ball politics to get what he wanted; and a controversial symbol of the New Right in America, a hero to his followers and a demon to his enemies." --Donald T. Critchlow, Author ofThe Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History
"Bill Link's masterful biography of Jesse Helms lays bare the roots of his conservative politics grounded in his white supremacist childhood and documents Helms's influence in shaping the course of national politics. Exhaustively researched and crisply written, Link proves Helms's importance to the Republican Party's southern strategy at home and his exportation of conservative southern values into U.S. foreign policy. This is fundamental reading for anyone interested in the rise of conservativism and politics in general in our time." -- Glenda Gilmore, Peter V. And C. Van Woodward Professor of History, Yale University "Professor Link's fascinating political biography of Jesse Helms is also an authoritative study of the rise of the New Right. Through Helms's career, we see the knitting together of the various strands of conservatism that account for Ronald Reagan's triumph in 1980, the Republican Party's Congressional revolution of 1994, and much else. Vivid characters and important issues fill the pages of 'Righteous Warrior,' and the reader is eager to keep turning those pages."-- Sheldon Hackney, Boies Professor of US History, University of Pennsylvania "Historian William Link captures in this incisive biography the complexity of Jesse Helmsa personally kind and charitable man who supported racial segregation; an affable and principled politician who played hard ball politics to get what he wanted; and a controversial symbol of the New Right in America, a hero to his followers and a demon to his enemies." --Donald T. Critchlow, Author of The Conservative Ascendancy: How the GOP Right Made Political History
This item was reviewed in:
Kirkus Reviews,
Wall Street Journal, February 2008
Chicago Tribune, March 2008
Washington Post, March 2008
New York Times Full Text Review, October 2009
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Summaries
Main Description
From an early age, Jesse Helms believed in extreme conservative causes, doctrinaire Christian worship and a mistrust of outsiders.In Righteous Warrior, William Link tells the life story of Jesse Helms and, subsequently, the story of a conservative revolution that finally captivated America at the end of the twentieth century.In his early days, Jesse Helms was a newspaperman, a radio commentator and a magazine editor.When he saw television for the first time, he realized the power he could command and, on tiny black and white screens waged battles with everything from civil rights to academic liberalism.In 1973, he was elected to the Senate where he remained until 2003 taking on everyone and everything that didn't tow the conservative party line and literally became the center of the conservative movement, pushing conservative causes, linking up with wealthy donors and ammassing more power than many Senators within memory.One could truly say that Jesse Helms was the conservative party in the U.S. In Righteous Warrior, Link gives us a complete historical portrait of the most powerful American political movement of the late twentieth century and shows how it was forged through the life of a man named Jesse Helms.
Main Description
In Righteous Warrior , William A. Link provides a magisterial portrait of Senator Jesse Helms, one of the most commanding American politicians of the late twentieth century, and of the conservative movement he forged. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, in his early years Helms worked as a newspaperman, a radio commentator and a magazine editor. Early on, he realized the power of television, and, on tiny black and white screens across North Carolina in the 1960s, he battled the civil rights movement, campus radicalism, and the sexual revolution. Race was a central issue for Helms, and he used it at every turn to solidify his base and, in some cases, to mobilize political support. But also important was sexuality, and his discomfort with what he believed was a rising tide of immorality. In 1973, he was elected to the Senate, where he remained until 2003. As Senator, Helms became a national conservative leader and spokesman for the revitalized American Right, playing a prominent role in the Reagan Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s and the rising tide of Republicanism of the 1990s. His political organization, the Congressional Club, became remarkably successful at raising millions of dollars and in operating a highly sophisticated, media-driven political machine. The Congressional Club also provided a source of national standing and power for Helms. In working so relentlessly for his cause, Helms literally became a nexus of the burgeoning movement, pushing conservative causes, linking conservative politicians up with wealthy donors and amassing more power than many Senators within memory. In Righteous Warrior, William Link tells the story of one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century and the conservative mark he left on the American political landscape.
Main Description
In Righteous Warrior , William A. Link provides a magisterial portrait of Senator Jesse Helms, one of the most commanding American politicians of the late twentieth century, and of the conservative movement he forged. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, in his early years Helms worked as a newspaperman, a radio commentator and a magazine editor. Early on, he realized the power of television, and, on tiny black and white screens across North Carolina in the 1960s, he battled the civil rights movement, campus radicalism, and the sexual revolution. Race was a central issue for Helms, and he used it at every turn to solidify his base and, in some cases, to mobilize political support. But also important was sexuality, and his discomfort with what he believed was a rising tide of immorality. In 1973, he was elected to the Senate, where he remained until 2003. As Senator, Helms became a national conservative leader and spokesman for the revitalized American Right, playing a prominent role in theReagan Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s and the rising tide of Republicanism of the 1990s. His political organization, the Congressional Club, became remarkably successful at raising millions of dollars and in operating a highly sophisticated, media-driven political machine. The Congressional Club also provided a source of national standing and power for Helms. In working so relentlessly for his cause, Helms literally became a nexus of the burgeoning movement, pushing conservative causes, linking conservative politicians up with wealthy donors and amassing more power than many Senators within memory. In Righteous Warrior, William Link tells the story of one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century and the conservative mark he left on the American political landscape.
Main Description
InRighteous Warrior, William A. Link provides a magisterial portrait of Senator Jesse Helms, one of the most commanding American politicians of the late twentieth century, and of the conservative movement he forged. Born in Monroe, North Carolina, in his early years Helms worked as a newspaperman, a radio commentator and a magazine editor. Early on, he realized the power of television, and, on tiny black and white screens across North Carolina in the 1960s, he battled the civil rights movement, campus radicalism, and the sexual revolution. Race was a central issue for Helms, and he used it at every turn to solidify his base and, in some cases, to mobilize political support. But also important was sexuality, and his discomfort with what he believed was a rising tide of immorality. In 1973, he was elected to the Senate, where he remained until 2003. As Senator, Helms became a national conservative leader and spokesman for the revitalized American Right, playing a prominent role in the Reagan Revolution of the 1970s and 1980s and the rising tide of Republicanism of the 1990s. His political organization, the Congressional Club, became remarkably successful at raising millions of dollars and in operating a highly sophisticated, media-driven political machine. The Congressional Club also provided a source of national standing and power for Helms. In working so relentlessly for his cause, Helms literally became a nexus of the burgeoning movement, pushing conservative causes, linking conservative politicians up with wealthy donors and amassing more power than many Senators within memory. In Righteous Warrior, William Link tells the story of one of the most powerful Americans of the twentieth century and the conservative mark he left on the American political landscape.
Table of Contents
Prefacep. ix
Introductionp. 1
Prologue: The Two Faces of Jesse Helmsp. 11
A Boll Weevil in the Cotton Patch: Early Yearsp. 19
Traveling the Long, Dreary Road: TV Conservativep. 63
Black is White, and Wrong is Right: Backlash Politicsp. 99
Standing Against the Prevailing Wind: Leading the New Rightp. 131
Conservatism Has Come of Age: Organizing the Movementp. 167
Archangel of the Right: The Reagan Revolutionp. 203
A Pure Gospel of Conservatism: Protecting the Revolutionp. 235
A Lionhearted Leader of a Great and Growing Army: The Election of 1984p. 271
I Am Beyond Your Reach: New Directionsp. 307
Jesse's Spiderweb: The Politics of Sexualityp. 343
The Conservative Lion in His Winter: Transitionsp. 385
A Big Rock in a River: Resisting Clintonp. 419
Time Takes a Terrific Toll: Elder Statesmanp. 455
Notesp. 483
Acknowledgmentsp. 623
Indexp. 626
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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