Democratic Underground

Jesse, Roger, and the Ballgame
August 28, 2001
by birdman

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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 points.

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.