During his 28 years in North Carolina, Hal Crowther has had occasion to write about former U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms many times. Here are a select few of our favorites quotes from Crowther about the former senator we once called "The Prince of Darkness."
• Jesse is like a mascot, a huge old pit bull, useless and vicious, that sits in its own mess at the end of a tow-truck chain and snarls at everything that moves.
• It seemed so bizarre, putting a delirious Cold War berserker in charge of [the Senate] Foreign Relations [Committee], I suppose I couldn't see beyond the comedy. It was like appointing Robert Downey drug czar, or making Michael Jackson Secretary of Day Care.
• Whether it's civil rights or foreign relations, Jesse's views are much the same -- he doesn't think we need any.
• On all the evidence, Jesse Helms is simply so ignorant, so blinded by antiquated prejudices, misplaced malice, misguided belief systems and petty animosities that any sane position he assumes should be dismissed as accidental.
• [Former] Secretary of State Madeleine Albright assessed Helms shrewdly as a lonely old soul, maybe not too bright and a couple bricks shy of a load. She worked her wiles as a diplomat (and a female) by flattering Helms and flirting with him, and had the old wolverine eating out of her hand.
• What does the world think of North Carolina? Thanks to us, a local joke has become an international scandal. All America's sins and flaws, all our political and cultural baggage are packed into one crusty old dinosaur, so heavy now that no force on earth can move him from the middle of the highway.
Where will the Tarheel Godzilla strike next? The United Nations, the State Department, arms control, foreign aid, Latin America, the Middle East, China, Mars ... nothing foreign is safe, and to Jesse almost everything is foreign.