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It's time to bring ol' Terry and Jesse home

This page was last modified on 20 April 2012.

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Published 14 November 1991 in The Carolinian (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

It's time to bring ol' Terry and Jesse home

by James M. Wallace
Columnist

The wanton excesses and general incompetence, irresponsibility, and ineffectiveness of our elected representatives has created a reasonable and understandable backlash from the electorate.

Throughout the country, a great cry is heard from the people, "Throw the bums out!" If America was a democracy along the lines of ancient Athens, the polis would have already voted to make Congressional service a "Capitol" crime.

The idea of term limits would force good politicians out of office prematurely only to be replaced by cretins who got D+'s and C-'s in American Government.

Term limits are an abrogation of our electoral responsibility. If we vote the morons in, we have to vote them out.

Take the unfortunate case of our senior U.S. senator for example. Since 1972, the decent, reasonable 48% of Tar Heel voters who refuse to vote for Jesse Helms have had to bear him as the shameful burden that he is.

When I was in the Army, I was often asked something like, "How in the world could North Carolinians elect a man like Jesse Helms?" I would answer, "They don't; only 52% of them do."

I wasn't particularly overwrought that an infinitesimally small portion of a single penny of my taxes went to fund an exhibit of black-and-white photographs. So what if many of them were homoerotic and even pornographic, they were still art. Even an unartistic boor like me knows that only real "artistes" use black-and-white film.

But Jesse went ballistic. For him it was a matter of critical national importance, and above all, it was a matter of principle.

On the rare occasions that he does the right thing, it's always for the wrong reason. I agreed with Jesse's call for mandatory HIV testing of health care workers. (I get worried when I agree with Jesse.) Public health is important. But that wasn't Jesse's primary motivation; he just wanted another chance to jab at the "ho-mo-sex-yules."

I know where Jesse stands, and that's why I've always voted for his opponent. Of course, I'd vote for a broken-down Yadkin County mule before I'd vote for Jesse Helms. Oh well, there's always 1996.

But fear not friends, Election Day 1992 is less than a year away, and our junior U.S. senator is up for re-election. I voted for Terry Sanford in 1986. I won't make that mistake again.

While Terry has served North Carolina well as governor and as president of Duke University, he has been a disappointment during his tenure in the U.S. Senate.

Earlier this year, Terry voted against the use of force against Iraq as members of the 82nd Airborne Division were completing their fifth month in the Saudi desert. Many of these soldiers are his constituents. He was willing to leave these and other servicemembers waiting in the desert instead of doing what had to be done. Ironically, Terry is himself a veteran of the 82nd. He should have known better.

Last month, he voted against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. What has he got against putting a black man on the Supreme Court? That's a question at least 25 percent of this state's electorate should be asking. Even race-baiting Jesse Helms voted for confirmation.

Well folks, it's time we brought Terry home to retire, and we can do it. We voted him in, and we can vote him out by voting someone else in. Our votes give us the power and the ultimate say as to how long someone can serve in public office, and without recourse to term limits and other easy solutions.

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Original unedited column as submitted to The Carolinian (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Bring Jesse and Terry Home!

by James M. Wallace

The wanton excesses and general incompetence, irresponsibility, and ineffectiveness of our elected representatives has created a reasonable and understandable backlash from the electorate.

Throughout the country, a great cry is heard from the people, "Throw the bums out!" If America was a democracy along the lines of ancient Athens, the polis would have already voted to make Congressional service a "Capitol" crime. Great mobs of enraged citizenry would have stormed the Congressional buildings and summarily executed every senator and representative --and a few unfortunate staffers-- they could get their hands on.

From some quarters, there is much screeching about "term limits" as if limiting the amount of time an elected official has to subject us to his or her idiocy would make a difference. Term limits would force good politicians out of office prematurely only to be replaced by cretins who got D+'s and C-'s in American Government.

Term limits are an abrogation of our electoral responsibility. If we vote the morons in, we have to vote them out. Fortunately, we are given ample opportunity to do so. The hard part is actually doing it.

Take the unfortunate case of our senior U.S. senator for example. Since 1972, the decent, reasonable 48 percent of Tar Heel voters who refuse to vote for Jesse Helms have had to bear him as the shameful burden that he is.

When I was in the Army, I was often asked something like, "How in the world could North Carolinians elect a man like Jesse Helms?" I would answer, "They don't; only 52 percent of them do."

I wasn't particularly overwrought that an infinitesimally small portion of a single penny of my taxes went to fund an exhibit of black-and-white photographs. So what if many of them were homoerotic and even pornographic, they were still art. Even an unartistic boor like me knows that only real "artistes" use black-and-white film.

But Jesse went ballistic. For him it was a matter of critical national importance, and above all, it was a matter of principle. Of course, "Jesse Helms" is listed in the dictionary as a synonym for demagogue.

On the rare occasions that he does the right thing, it's always for the wrong reason. I agreed with Jesse's call for mandatory HIV testing of health care workers. I think that both health professionals and patients should be tested as a matter of public health. But that wasn't Jesse's primary motivation; he just wanted another chance to jab at the "ho-mo-sex-yules."

I know where Jesse stands, and that's why I've always voted for his opponent. In 1984, I voted for Jim Hunt even though he's a tad too liberal for me, and too much of a politician. In 1990, I voted for Harvey Gantt even though he's much too liberal for me. Actually, I'd vote for a broken-down Yadkin County mule before I'd vote for Jesse Helms. Oh well, there's always 1996.

But fear not friends, Election Day 1992 is less than a year away, and our junior U.S. senator is facing reelection. I voted for Terry Sanford in 1986. I won't make that mistake again.

While Terry has served North Carolina well as governor and as president of Duke University, he has been a disappointment during his tenure in the U.S. Senate.

Earlier this year, Terry voted against the use of force against Iraq as members of the 82nd Airborne Division were completing their fifth month in the Saudi desert. Many of these soldiers are his constituents. He was willing to leave these and other servicemembers to rot in the desert instead of doing what had to be done. Ironically, Terry is himself a veteran of the 82nd. He should have known better.

Last month, he voted against the confirmation of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. What's he got against putting a black man on the Supreme Court? That's a question at least 25 percent of this state's electorate should be asking itself. Even race-baiting Jesse Helms voted for confirmation.

Well folks, it's time we brought Terry home to retire, and we can do it. We voted him in, and we can vote him out by voting someone else in. Our votes give us the power and the ultimate say as to how long someone can serve in public office, and without recourse to term limits and other easy solutions.

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Commentary

When I wrote this editorial, I was politically unaffiliated, and I deliberately placed myself between the two opposing camps. I made a point of firing in both directions, and I relished the prospect of getting caught in the crossfire. I was sorely disappointed. There wasn't a single defense of Helms which really shouldn't have suprised me. UNCG is a very liberal campus, and there aren't that many conservative students, and most of them are closeted. The Helms supporters may not have responded, but the Sanford supporters more than made up for it! I can see them reading the Helms section laughing their hindquarters off and exclaiming, "This guy is great!" I can see them reading the Sanford section getting red in the face and snarling, "This guy is an idiot!" So it goes.

From 1980 to 1992, I was registered Unaffiliated. In the six biennial elections from 1980 through 1990, I can count the number of Republicans I voted for on something less than my ten fingers, and Ronald Reagan was never one of them. What else would you expect from the son and grandson of retired Teamsters and a native Tar Heel. I grew up blue-collar, union, and Southern; I don't think I have to say "Democrat." I moved to Guilford County in 1991 but waited to register to vote until 1992. On the twelfth anniversary of my first registering, I went downtown to the county Board of Elections to register; I wanted to make an event of it. When I was asked for party affiliation, I firmly and deliberately responded, "Republican." The black woman who was registering me gave me a dirty look as if to say, "Yeah, you look like one!" Well, I can't help my being a white male. I wonder if she would have been more tolerant and understanding if she knew my background.

In 1992, I voted only for Republicans and checked my ballot twice to make sure that I didn't vote for a Democrat inadvertently. In 1994, I voted only for Republicans again but checked my ballot only once to make sure that I didn't vote for any Democrats. In 1996, I voted only for Republicans again but left my vote for U.S. Senate for last. Prior to signing on with the Republican Party, I had voted against Helms in 1990 and 1984, and I would have voted against him in 1978 had I been born a year earlier. I considered leaving my ballot blank for the office but decided this was unacceptable; not voting would leave a vote for Gantt unanswered which I thought to be tantamount to voting for him. After considering my vote for at least five minutes, I finally abandoned my resistance to Helms, and I voted for Jesse for the first time. I figured that I agreed more with Helms than with Gantt, and there was always party loyalty. Anyway, I couldn't remember the last time I had seen a mule, Yadkin County or otherwise.

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Letter to the Editor published 5 December 1991 in The Carolinian (The University of North Carolina at Greensboro), copyright 1991 by The Carolinian

Columnist's views on war, Terry Sanford unfounded

A grand old "boo-hiss" goes to James Wallace and his words concerning senator Terry Sanford.

There are reasons for wanting Sanford out of office, but Wallace's argument only reinforces my decision to vote for him in 1992.

Concerning the vote against the use of force in Iraq, Wallace insinuates that Sanford enjoyed the idea of U.S. troops sweating it out in the desert instead of finishing business and coming home.

No one wanted them suffering any longer out there but many, like Sanford, believed they had no business being out there in the first place. If I were a soldier, I certainly would not vote for a man who would send my comrades and myself into danger with orders to kill with a highly questionable purpose.

And when it was time to go into action, did they do "what had to be done?" Mainstream TV news tells us that many soldiers were killed who would have surrendered peacefully if given a chance.

Many innocent civilians were slaughtered, and much of the Middle East was left in ruins while the malicious antichrist we were supposedly going after was left in power and ready to commit more atrocities.

As for the Clarence Thomas nomination, if Wallace believes that a man should be appointed to the Supreme Court on the basis of the color of his skin, then he is more of a racist than he accuses Sanford of being. Such decisions should be made independent of one's skin tone.

Clay Young
The writer is a sophomore.

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The Compleat Heretic responds:

Oh, Mr. Young, please don't be so, uh, sophomoric. In no way did I suggest that Sanford was some sort of sadist who wanted to torment our troops. The fact of the matter was that our troops, as well as those of the rest of the U.N. Coalition, were "out there in the first place" and had been for months. They were "out there" to enforce a U.N. mandate that Iraq withdraw its military forces from Kuwait by a date certain. Do I have to remind you that Iraq (a U.N. member) invaded (a violation of the U.N. Charter) Kuwait (also a U.N. member), and that Iraq threatened further aggression (additional violations of the U.N. Charter) against Saudi Arabia and the various Gulf States (all U.N. members), and that Iraq refused to accept the diplomatic solution (withdrawal of all Iraqi military forces from Kuwait) to the problem that the Iraqis had created. Iraqi intransigence left only the military solution which was to be implemented by the U.S. and the U.N. Coalition Forces.

The bowstring had been pulled back, and it was time to let the arrow fly. There was no choice but to wage war against Iraq, and the majority of Americans, including those most at risk in the Saudi desert, had resigned themselves to the painful necessity of war. Sanford and the majority of the Democrat senators showed themselves to be common political hacks by opposing the use of force along partisan lines; they were too busy playing politics to do what had to be done. A true statesman would have recognized that what was needed was the courage and the leadership to make the hard decision regardless of personal misgivings and considerations.

Unlike you Mr. Young, I was a soldier, and I certainly did "vote for a man who would send my comrades and myself into danger with orders to kill." When I was on active duty at Ft. Lewis, WA in 1988, I voted by absentee ballot for George Bush. I knew that I was voting for not just a President, but for my Commander-in-Chief who could very well order me to my death. I was familiar with Bush's World War II service. I knew that he had almost died twice. I knew that ten of the original fourteen members of his Avenger squadron did not survive the War. I knew that he had killed other young men and that he had watched other young men die. I knew that he had experienced the horror of war, and I trusted that he would do all he could to avoid subjecting a younger generation to that horror. During the four years that George Bush was my Commander-in-Chief, he never betrayed my trust. Anyway, it's not a soldier's place to question lawful orders; such orders are to be obeyed even if doing so results in the soldier's death.

Also, there was nothing "highly questionable" about the Gulf War. The Gulf War was a clear case of an aggressor nation threatening not only our interests and economic stability but that of the entire world. The United Nations' rapid, deliberate, and forceful response to the crisis is unequivocal proof of this fact.

As a veteran and a former soldier, I find your libel of our troops insufferable! How dare you suggest that our servicemembers killed Iraqi soldiers "who would have surrendered peacefully if given a chance;" i.e., committed murder! Before the air campaign began, our psyops (psychological operations) people were dropping cartoon leaflets in Arabic instructing Iraqi soldiers how to surrender. Many of the tens, even hundreds, of thousands of Iraqis taken prisoner during the ground campaign were carrying these leaflets. We made every effort to avoid needless bloodshed. In the midst of a combat assault, any enemy soldier occupying a fortified position or a military vehicle, or engaging in any act of resistance (including retreating) must be considered hostile and dealt with accordingly; i.e., killed. This being the case, Mr. Young, how would our troops offer the enemy the opportunity to surrender without unnecessarily endangering themselves?

Yes, many civilians were inadvertantly killed but that is one of the unfortunate consequences of war. Weapons go off-target; people end up in places where they shouldn't be. Their blood isn't on our hands; it is on Saddam Hussein's alone. Your hyperbole notwithstanding, aside from the very minor damage caused by Iraqi SCUDs, most of the destruction was limited to Kuwait and Iraq. This unfortunate consequence of war is also on Saddam Hussein's head alone. Saddam Hussein may still be "in power" after more than ten years since his invasion of Kuwait, but how much power does he really have? He can't sell oil without U.N. permission due to the sanctions imposed in 1990. He isn't allowed to operate military aircraft in the northern and southern thirds of his "domain." He has been constantly on guard against repeated coups since the war. Finally, he may be "ready to commit more atrocities," but he is in no position to do so. He lost 80-90 percent of his tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and other military vehicles in the war which he certainly hasn't been able to replace. U.N. inspectors had been dismantling most, if not all, of his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons programs, but, ominously, Bill Clinton botched that when he launched his "wag the dog" attack in December 1998 immediately prior to the House impeachment vote.

Oh, all right! I admit that my comments concerning Sanford's vote against Thomas were gratuitous and facetious. I know that Sanford was just being partisan. I completely agree with you that pigmentation is no basis for appointment to any position. Why don't you tell that to the Democrats, the NAACP, and the other liberal groups who were calling on the Bush Administration to appoint another black to replace the retiring Thurgood Marshall. Of course, they simply were attempting to back Bush into a politically embarassing corner. Whoops! Be careful what you wish for; you may get it in the end!

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