Roger, and the Ballgame
August 28, 2001
I hated Roger Staubach. The long time, highly successful
quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys (after the New York Yankees
the most hateable of sports franchises) led his arrogant star-helmeted
guys (America's Team, Grrrrr!) to two SuperBowl wins and two
other appearances during the seventies. And every time he
coolly connected with Drew Pearson or turned a busted play
into a twenty yard gain I wanted the play to end with some
big linebackers elbow laying waste to Roger's born-again,
Naval Academy face. But all that said I have to give him the
credit that he deserves. Roger Staubach was a great ballplayer
and, to be honest, I know that if he had played for my favorite
team, the Eagles, I would have found a way to see his good
Which brings me to the retiring Senator, Jesse Helms.
Jesse Helms once referred to the University of North Carolina
(UNC) as the University of Negroes and Communists. He turned
his back on Nelson Mandela rather than shake hands with him.
He derided gay people as “sex perverts”. He opposed the Martin
Luther King holiday. He blocked international treaties, family
planning funds, presidential appointments of both parties
and the payment of UN dues.
Late in one of his Senate campaigns and finding himself behind
in the polls Jesse did everything but pull the sheet out the
closet. He broadcast the infamous “hands” ad where a desperate
white job seeker gets a letter of rejection from a company
who had to hire a minority instead of the best qualified person.
It was tantamount to telling white North Carolinians that
unless they reelected Jesse all the good jobs were going to
go to the you-know-whos. In the same campaign he said that
his opponent was raising thousands of dollars in "gay
and lesbian bars." He was and is one of the most appalling
human beings ever to be an American public servant.
But you have to say one thing for the old racist, homophobic,
jingoistic waste of protoplasm. He's got a pair. And they're
brass ones at that.
In fact I kind of wish we had a Democrat or two with the
kind of testicular fortitude that old Jesse has shown over
the years. Jesse was despicable but he was also very effective
and he was effective because he had balls.
You see, Jesse didn't give a damn if some people in his own
party regarded him as a monstrous embarrassment. He didn't
care if the international community thought he was a dangerous
saber-rattling nutcase. It didn't matter to Jesse if the staff
at the New York Times thought he represented a u-turn of evolution.
In fact Jesse stood for Jesse's loathsome principles even
if it meant that he was risking his own reelection. He kept
winning but a number of his elections were very close.
You can't have a whole party full of Jesses. They'd scare
the hell out of the mainstream voters that both parties need
to survive. But wouldn't it be nice if there was a left-wing
Jesse chairing the Senate judiciary committee so he could
tell the administration that no knuckle-dragging, anti-choice
Neanderthals will be getting confirmed for Federal judgeships
any time soon.
Or if there was a Democratic Jesse at the Armed Services
committee - he'd telling be the little bumpkin and his minions
that the missile defense boondoggle is DOA and if they don't
like it they can start sending contributions to his next opponent.
Our mythical Jesse wouldn't been satisfied with peeling off
a portion of the obscene tax giveaway to the wealthy. He'd
have filibustered the whole damn thing and he probably would
have gotten some concessions. Would our imaginary Jesse have
filibustered John Ashcrofts DOJ nomination? You tell me.
And so as repugnant as I think Jesse is I have to admit he's
got all kinds of testicles and I wish he had been on our side
these past thirty years. He didn't go to D.C. to ride in limos
and earn the admiration of the chattering class. He went to
fight for his principles and did so. He played to win; he
played to cut the other guy's heart out.
Just like Roger Staubach did.